Dear Laura

Dear Laura,

Many thanks for your letters. It’s been very interesting to find out a little more about some of the things you’ve been thinking about recently.

One word crops up several times in the letters, I had to look it up to check what it means – stereoscopic. As I understand it, this refers to a kind of rudimentary 3D way of presenting an image, that relies on the pairing of two images, almost identical but representing slightly different perspectives, in the same way that our two eyes give slightly different perspectives on whatever it is that we’re looking at. It would appear that we can trick our eyes into seeing ‘through’ these pairs, to get an impression of depth. I quote Wikipedia: ‘eye focus and binocular convergence are habitually coordinated. One approach to the decoupling the two functions is to view the image pair extremely close up with completely relaxed eyes’. And then, presumably, our eyes would refocus, and the image pair would somehow merge and look as though they were solid?

In thinking about stereoscopic viewing, I’ve been wondering about how it might apply to other aspects of your practice. Firstly, the idea of the paired, but slightly different images – an original and a double, or a fake, even. You mention a few of these. Like your Father’s stuffed owl, a pile of lifeless feathers and cotton wool (or whatever it is that taxidermists use) posed in imitation of when it was capable of flying away; or your Mum’s plastic orchid, the only sort of plant she would put up with in the house. (By the way, did you know you share your name with an American bodybuilder? I’ve not been able to find out much about her, other than a few images online, of her in a bikini with straightened hair, flexing her enormous muscles). And then secondly, how it might apply to your relationship with John Dilwyn Llewelyn, the Victorian photographer and botanist who you’ve been researching during your residency. I wonder what it would mean for you to be stereoscoping with him? He as a ‘gentleman amateur’, that obsolete breed who contributed so much to the development of human knowledge, but who today would probably not be taken seriously; and you as a contemporary artist, perhaps in certain respects the modern equivalent? (Though not, as a rule, so wealthy!!). What would the ‘illusory whole’ glimpsed between the pair of you look like? (Of course, I’m not interpreting you as his fake!).

There is also the mutual interest in collecting that you share with JDL – him with his orchids, you with your selected instances of domestic recall. I’ve been thinking about how this, the collecting impulse, relates to stereoscopics too – the desire to gather together disparate items unified by a quality that perhaps only really exists in the mind of the collector, a desired characteristic, that creates another sort of illusory whole, here gone beyond a binary phenomenon to include multiple (infinite?) facets. Yours and his work might seem quite different, his scientifically rigorous and yours more vulnerable to the vagaries of memory, perhaps. But I would rather focus on the similarities in your ways of systematising perceptions to create an understanding of the world, or, at least, the impulse behind them.

Because one of my eyes doesn’t really focus, I am unable to see any sort of stereoscopic image. The last 3D film I tried to see was Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and after trying with the goggles on, I felt so strange I had to take them off, and instead put up with the weird double-vision images on the screen. I am aware that similarly, the significances and connections around aspects of your practice that I have attempted to see, and that I have written about in this letter might be misperceptions (likewise my understanding of what stereoscopics is in the first place). But I hope they are not entirely unhelpful.

Hope this finds you very well anyway. See you soon, no doubt. Phil,x.

Jane Phillips Award 2013


The Jane Phillips Award was set up in 2011 as a memorial to

Jane Phillips (1957 – 2011) Mission Gallery’s first Director

Mission Gallery are delighted to announce that the Jane Phillips Award 2013 application is available from today!

The Award includes £1000, a nine month studio residency, one year of mentoring, guidance and support in all areas of professional practice and a profile within Mission Gallery. Anyone aged 18 – 30, living in Wales who can demonstrate outstanding creative ability and ambition is eligible to be nominated.

The Jane Phillips Award recruits a host of respected mentors across the Visual and Applied Arts that assist at both the assessment and development stage of each application.

For each award there will be a guest selector: a respected professional working within the arts. The 2013 guest selector will be Claire Curneen, Ceramicist and ACW Creative Wales Ambassador 2012-13.

JanePhillips Award Recipient 2011 | Laura Edmunds

Laura Edmunds was the recipient of the inaugural Jane Phillips Award in October 2011. Her 6 month residency ran from 1st November 2011 to 30th April 2012.

IMG_5377Laura Edmunds in her studio

“The Jane Phillips Award was awarded to me at a time that is crucial to my professional and creative development. It is easy to lose focus and concentration upon leaving university, and I felt that I was able to continue the practical and theoretical work that I had spent 3 years developing, as well as the new ideas that were coming into play as I worked by myself for the first time. The Jane Phillips Award bridged the gap between university life and the beginning of a career; and so it was an invaluable opportunity. It was an insight into the career that lies ahead of me; at times challenging but always rewarding.” -Laura Edmunds

During her residency and mentoring in association with Mission Gallery, Laura was accepted as an exhibitor of Welsh Artist of the Year and winner of the Drawing Prize, 2012 (St. David’s Hall, Cardiff) and was shortlisted for the Young Artist Scholarship, Vale of Glamorgan National Eisteddfod 2012. Laura is now studying an MA in Applied Design and Art, majoring in Visual Arts, at Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

The Jane Phillips Award 2013 application form will be available on the website from the 22nd April 2013.

Further information: |

The Jane Phillips Award is administered by Mission Gallery, Swansea.

Laura Edmunds | in conversation with Hannah Kelly

Laura Edmunds

in conversation with Hannah Kelly

In October 2011 the Jane Phillips Award announced Laura Edmunds as its first recipient. Laura received £1000, a 6 month residency in Swansea Studios and mentoring from professionals across the arts. Highlights of Laura’s achievements included being awarded the drawing prize at Welsh Artist of the Year, 2012 at St. David’s Hall, Cardiff and being shortlisted for the Young Artist Scholarship, Vale of Glamorgan National Eisteddfod 2012 where she exhibited in Y Lle Celf.

On 21st June 2012 Laura took part in an ‘in conversation‘, alongside her presentation of work as ‘Maker in Focus’ at Mission Gallery to reflect on her time as the first Jane Phillips Award recipient.

HK – Throughout the 6 month period of the Jane Phillips Award I have had the pleasure of being a mentor to you and what I believe the Award did most notably, was allow you to find your voice as an artist. You came to Mission Gallery as a mature, professional young artist and perhaps one of the most poignant things that you have said to me was, that the Award gave you the time to discover the relationship between yourself and your practice.
Throughout the Award I have watched you develop a confidence in your ideas. You developed strength to reflect on existing ideas, to return to them and have the confidence  to say, ‘this is who I am, and this is what I do and that’s ok’. Your subject deals with a lot of juxtapositions between what is permanent and what is non-permanent, particularly in relation to the body. There is a notion of control and ultimately things we haven’t got control of, particularly in relation to life and death. It has been rewarding to watch you work. You have a very beautiful, intuitive process in which you explore your experiences of grief and the loss of a loved one and you present it to us in a way which we can all relate.

LE – I draw on my experiences and from bodily traces because I am trying to wrap my head around how someone can be so physical, fleshy and heavy and then in a moment, they’re gone. I have been trained in textiles and drawing but was interested in developing three dimensionally so during the Jane Phillips Award residency I explored harder materials, in particular I was looking at precious metals. I enjoy the play on words with what is precious and what isn’t.  I worked initially with teeth. I have teeth in a box in my studio; I think they are very beautiful. There is some comfort in them, although they can make your stomach churn. I found a bodily trace from a person that I loved who is now gone; it became a lot more precious, almost like a relic.

HK – how did you find the transition from working with textiles to exploring silversmithing?

LE – It was just a totally different way of working. As I said, I was trained to think in a certain way with very soft, tactile materials and suddenly all these scientific chemical processes were being introduced. It was really exciting; I enjoy being taken out of my comfort zone. I learnt a lot from it and grew a lot as an artist.

HK – The box of teeth, it is actually your family’s teeth isn’t it?

LE – yes, they are. My Mum has collected 3 children’s worth of teeth! I was talking to various family friends who have all offered me their own family’s teeth and I’ve thought, ‘oh no, no thank you’. I find it quite interesting how I feel comforted by the teeth that I use and yet I feel horrified by others.

HK – Your work has a strong craft root; unlike many other young, contemporary textile artists you have not used computer technology in your process. Instead you have presented the teeth on a material that has been aged and made heavy with repetitive stitch. Your design palette is exquisitely subtle, with black thread and gold shimmering against earthy colour schemes combined with neutral cloth. Repeat stitches manipulate the inherent warp and weft imbuing the cloth with the personal tragedies you have experienced; marks that evolve from a series of intuitive decisions. Intriguing and mystifying, they appear to have been taken on a journey through your ideas and now exist independently with their own story to tell.

LE – the aging process was talked about a lot during my degree. People have questioned why I don’t just bury cloth in the ground, get it dirty, dishevelled and old but through this process I have no control. A lot of the stitch marks that I use, they are so tiny, they are like pores from the skin and I don’t think a lot of people may notice that, but it is important that I make work that I feel like I have some sort of control over. During a time of loss, I felt like I had no control, so now control in my work has become an important element. It is something I have only realised recently and there’s definitely a lot of scope in it for the future.
I have also been asked why haven’t I used the actual teeth that I have got and just present them but, it feels like it is something that I have to do, the making process is really important to me. I have to be involved in the process.

HK – Your stitching demonstrates skill and is a process reminiscent of drawing, of which you are also a master draughtsman. You took the full 6 months to complete one drawing; presenting a precisely drawn repetition of marks, complex but unfussy, built up to present something which appears as though it is disappearing.

‘Trace’ 2012 | Section of Drawing | Pencil on Paper

LE – the drawing did take a really long time to do, I actually hurt myself through the drawing process! I felt like I was building the marks up but, I meant for them to look as though they were burning away or decaying. Decay is something I am really interested in within my work; holding on to something that’s not permanent. The drawing was a presentation of what process actually is. It took 6 months but presents itself as something so delicate and fleeting; a sort of moment. I have often been asked why I don’t do huge marks and why it is all so constrained and tiny but, it is something that I feel is my language.

HK –You consciously present yourself and your experiences within your work in a way which we can relate to but it still is very much, ‘Laura Edmunds’ presented for everyone to analyse.

LE – It is like that, but what was so great about the Jane Phillips Award was that I got to meet so many like-minded individuals; in the professional sector but also in a creative and contextual way. So speaking to artists like Rozanne Hawksley or Becky Adams; about how she takes her experiences and how she translates them into something which is visual, so that other people are able to understand it and relate to what has happened is really important. I was able to establish for myself that it is ok to make work about my experiences because, for a while I thought, ‘how long can I make work about what happened’ but I realised during my time on the residency that this is who I am, this is how I work and it is ok to continue. I needed the time to accept it.

HK – throughout the Award you were able to speak to a variety of mentors to challenge and encourage you; were there others that influenced you?

LE – There are many interesting individuals; I visited Fireworks Clay Studios and met Lowri Davies, it was great to speak to someone who works in a completely different way to me, she was able to give me hints and tips about how to keep going after you leave university. It’s a scary time where I felt like I was going to drop off the face of the earth, I didn’t have a Masters lined up, no PGCE and Lowri was able to give great advice on how to continue.
I feel like I have established relationships with artists, galleries, studios not just in Swansea but in Cardiff and across Wales and they will stay with me now throughout the rest of my career. Being introduced alongside the Jane Phillips Award established me. I was trying to get my name ‘out there’ sending off my CV to different venues, but what made me different from all the other graduates that were out there? Having the Jane Phillips Award introduce me to this network was priceless.

HK – throughout the Award you moved forward at full speed and made a name for yourself as an up and coming artist though papers, blogs, websites and magazines; has this has shifted your attitude in regards to your career aspirations?

LE – I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with myself when I left university. A lot of people kept asking if I was going to teach. I thought I would quite like to, but I also want to be able to make my work. It has made my future a lot more clear and has made it feel a lot more accessible. I kept thinking about different things I wanted to do but, I feel now like I know how to get them. I feel like if I don’t know how to apply for an opportunity, award or internship that I now have a relationship with Mission Gallery where I can now ask for advice and mentoring and that will stay with me for the rest of my career.

HK – you have been an amazing ambassador for the first Jane Phillips Award; were there any highlights for you?

LE –One highlight was the opportunity to take part in a photography workshop with Toril Brancher at Oriel Myrddin Gallery. When applying for different internships and awards I know that the photography included in the application is crucial so I’ve really taken the skills I learnt from that day.
Meeting the exhibiting artists of Mission Gallery throughout the 6 months has been a massive opportunity.  I got to know a lot of the volunteers and build a relationship with everyone. Being part of the group exhibition, ‘A Feminine Perspective’ curated by one of the volunteers of Mission Gallery was brilliant. I was introduced to so many people at various private views and events at Mission Gallery and other venues.

HK – we have talked a lot about how the Award has allowed you to develop your confidence and a strong sense of direction; how important do you think an Award like the Jane Phillips Award is for young, emerging artists?

LE oh, it’s massively important! When I first left university I was working 6 days a week in an office and trying to find time to do something remotely creative. Through the Award, I was given a studio, funds and all sorts of support and I was able to sit down and think, ‘what now, what do I want to do?’ It was brilliant to have the time and space to just make work and not have to think, ‘this is going to be graded’. It was time to explore things which sometimes didn’t work, I was supported in being able to think, that this was ok and I was able to move on to the next thing. It gave me growing space.

HK – you have been the perfect combination of artist and ambassador and you’re gaining real momentum with your career; a participant in both the 2012 Welsh Artist of the Year and Y Lle Celf at the National Eisteddfod of Wales. It has been a pleasure to watch you develop an internal strength throughout the Award and I look forward to seeing your future unfold.

LE –It has been a fantastic start to my career, as for a lot of people it can take so many years to get their name out there and it has happened to me straight away and I think that is all thanks to the Jane Phillips Award and Mission Gallery.
The time, money and support of the Jane Phillips Award in addition to experiences throughout the Award allowed me to explore my ideas and my work. I was able to question, ‘why I work in certain ways, why on a small scale, why is it quite contained’ I feel that I am able to ask myself these questions now and that I am ready to build on them. I explored the use of projection during my residency and I would like to continue exploring the use of the digital and the use of sound. I have confidence now that I will grow in the next 5 – 10 years. My work will build with the experience I have gained; I trust my judgement now and don’t apologise for working in the way that I do.
This is my language.

Laura Edmunds | Swansea Studios 2011/12

In love with Mission Gallery: Nicolas William Hughes

Nicolas William Hughes
Nicolas William Hughes

Name: Nicolas William Hughes

Relationship with Mission Gallery?: Ex volunteer, Exhibited Artist, Friend

What are your favourite memories of Mission Gallery?: Oh there are so many; helping out with so many good exhibitions, meeting lots of Artists I admire and thanks to the gallery I can now call my friends, working with the artist Anton Goldenstein setting up his fantastic exhibition in 2009, having long chats with Jane and Amanda. Working at the mission helped me to meet some of the best people I have ever met and has given me so many opportunities. 

What have you been up to since you left Mission Gallery?: I started my MA in 2009, I have been focusing on my practice, and I have exhibited in Swansea,Bristol and as far as Berlin. But to be honest I don’t think you can ever leave the Mission Gallery if you have been part of it. So many people I know who have been a volunteer over the years are in some way still connected to the gallery. The Mission Gallery is a place that stays with you; I will always feel part of the Mission Gallery.

What are you up to now?: I finished my MA this year, since then I have gone on to a good post with another Welsh gallery in Cardiff. I have been also focusing on my career as an artist and have a group show coming up, as well as a residency in April 2012. I am aiming on gaining some other residencies in Europe.

How did your time at Mission Gallery help you with your professional development?: Greatly, as I mentioned earlier I have met so many people through the gallery at private views etc, some of these people have become good friends. Having both Jane Phillips and Amanda [Amanda Roderick – appointed Director of Mission Gallery 2011] giving me their advice and help since I finished my degree has been a godsend and I am so grateful to them both. Jane gave me some of the best advice I have ever had. I was given great opportunities whilst volunteering at the gallery, which gave me insight to how a contemporary art space is run. I had the great opportunity of exhibiting in the gallery in September this year, which was a great honour.

Nicolas William Hughes | Tweeter

I can’t count how much being a part of mission gallery has helped me, but I can say without question that I would not be where I am in my career without the aid of Mission Gallery, and especially Amanda and Jane both are/have been great assets to the Welsh art scene as a whole. The whole Welsh art scene and I sorely miss Jane.

What’s the funniest thing that happened to you as a volunteer at Mission Gallery?: There were so many funny moments, there was never a dull moment when you were working with Jane Phillips. I think one thing that should be remembered would be when I was sent to the shop to buy a bunch of daffodils for Saint David’s day, with stupidity I bought a big bunch of tulips by mistake, I remember Jane and Amanda taking the mick out of me for weeks after that.

Sausage sandwich or bacon sandwich?: I will have a mixture of sausage and bacon.

[a little bird tells us you’re a great cook Nicolas, so we’ll have ours with egg too!]

Do you love Mission Gallery?: Yes very much!

Feature Drawing | Esther

bye bye Zebra pencil sharpener; you did us proud

 A tribute to our friend; ‘Zebra’

Last week was brilliant at Mission Gallery we had lots of visits from artists who have donated work for the Art Auction (20th Aug – 2pm) at the famous Reading Room on Alexandra Road. Amongst the lovely artists to pop into Mission Gallery was Claire Curneen who brought along 4 year old Esther.

Inspired by our friend, ‘Zebra – the pencil sharpener’, Esther drew a fantastic portait of him which has been chosen as this weeks feature drawing .

Zebra | Esther | Age 4
'Zebra' | Esther | Age 4
About Zebra

Zebra is made of wood and features some lovely stripes and a kind smile. He came to Mission Gallery via a dark and gloomy attic. Following his release, Zebra donated his life to helping pencils create bright and beautiful drawings. As with many of our volunteers at Mission Gallery, Zebra was happy in his work and a valuable team member. He understood the aims of Mission Gallery and helped us to achieve many of our desired goals. His particular area of interest was education and he could be found on a daily basis in our new Books & Resource Area. He was a friendly pencil sharpener who stood proudly on his island of red. He inspired many young artists and liked mainly green pencils. Zebra was not so keen on large triplus learner’s pencils, as their triangular shape often got stuck in his belly. Esther’s realistic portrait is the last known image of Zebra as we came in on this bright Monday morning to find Zebra in pieces! Zebra stayed in safe hands with the full-time staff during the children’s workshop today with tutor Keith Bayliss and assistant Lauren Savigar. Lauren is a wonderful volunteer at Mission Gallery and has kindly volunteered to take Zebra away for some TLC. We wish Lauren and Zebra all the best and look forward to seeing him again soon.
In the meantime if you would like to visit his portrait he is on display in Mission Gallery courtesy of Esther  during 15th- 21st August. 

Congratulations Esther!

Children’s Summer Art Workshops:

Colour | Monday 8th August
Collage | Monday 15th August
Pattern | Monday 22nd August

Morning Session: 10am – 12pm | Afternoon: 1pm – 3pm
Colour, Collage and Pattern workshops inspired by the paintings of Jane Phillips and led by artist Keith Bayliss. The results of these workshops will be displayed alongside Jane’s paintings during August Bank Holiday Weekend:
27th – 29th August 2011.
£7.50 per workshop | Ages 5 – 13 only | Booking and pre-payment essential
01792 652016 |

In love with Mission Gallery: Tom Smith

Tom Smith | Working on Live Out Loud at Mission Gallery
Tom Smith | Working on Live Out Loud at Mission Gallery

Name: Tom Smith [aka Thomas Smitha]

Position at Mission Gallery: Gallery Assistant

How long have you been at Mission Gallery: 2 years 3 months 3 days 3 hours

[should have asked him how old he was too!]

When did you decide to work at Mission Gallery?: During the first year at University after meeting Jane and Amanda during the Ainsley Hillard exhibition

 Do you enjoy being at Mission Gallery? Any highlights?: Yes, Dark Star by Jonathan Anderson and Offerings by Rozanne Hawksley

 Got any secrets / stories you can share about Amanda, Hannah or Emma?: They secretly look forward to taking down an exhibitions vinyl lettering so they can construct words around the office walls!

Roderick aManda ->, hannah! hannah, eMMa eMma 🙂  


You’ve been pretty involved in setting up the Jane Phillips Award & Auction, what was your role?: I’m involved with photographing auction work and updating the website. As well as photographing the work exhibited in the Jane Phillips Live Out Loud exhibition.

 How’s it going?: It’s going really well, the website looks fantastic and highlights the work of Jane Phillips and the donated works

What is your favourite thing to do outside of Mission Gallery?: Work on my art practice as a photographer  

Thomas Smith | ' #21 ' mounted photo, framed (size 39 x 31cm) | Jane Phillips Auction starting bid £20
Thomas Smith | ' #21 ' mounted photo, framed (size 39 x 31cm) | Jane Phillips Auction starting bid £20

What’s your style?: The style of my work is small models photographed on my iPhone

If you had an unlimited pot of money what would you buy from Mission Gallery? Hmmm… I think it would have to have been programme/user from Ben Rowe’s exhibition.

What’s your favourite biscuit? (why): A rich tea; because 9 times out of 10 there’s one lurking in the biscuit tin at home!

Do you love Mission  Gallery?: Yes, with all my heart ♥

Ben Rowe & Jane Phillips | The Artist

Ben Rowe | Batteries Not Included*
Ben Rowe | Batteries Not Included*

… a journey of words; pondering the end of one exhibition and the beginning of another …

In the last post about Ben Rowe we used the phrase, ‘…time has travelled […]’ at Mission Gallery. Indeed, time has travelled and Mission Gallery is preparing for Live Out Loud, an exhibition of paintings by Jane Phillips (1957 – 2011). Jane Phillips was Mission Gallery’s first Director and facilitated the success of Mission Gallery as a venue for presenting contemporary visual art and craft.

—Ben and Jane in the same context?—

It is appropriate to talk about Ben Rowe and Jane Phillips in the same post, as without individuals who believe in supporting young and emerging artists, and pushing art and artists to the forefront of importance amongst art venues (such as Jane) there would be limited opportunities for relatively unknown artists (such as Ben).

The guarantee of success is reasonably achievable when selecting an artist who has an established, or an international reputation, whose work needs no introduction. It is quite another matter to acquire an eye for young and emerging talent, and to generate a successful exhibition based on an artist with little previous exhibiting history.

 However, with guidance from Jane Phillips as Director and Amanda Roderick as Gallery Development Officer, Mission Gallery has developed a reputation for successfully taking risks on young and emerging artists; offering them their first solo exhibitions, allowing talent to flourish and instigating successful careers.

 So what makes an emerging artist stand out from the rest? Or more specifically in this scenario why was Ben Rowe selected for a solo exhibition at Mission Gallery?

—Jane Phillips—

The work of artist Ben Rowe and Director Jane Phillips couldn’t be more aesthetically different. Mission Gallery are about to transform themselves from a gallery of colourless MDF sculpture into a feast of energetic painting with colour theory at the core. Jane Phillips was an individual whose energy, dynamism and love of life and of colour will long be remembered and yet the selected exhibition of Ben Rowe’s work is full of escapism and drained of colour.

 Jane Phillips’ exhibition Live Out Loud allows the viewer to visit the origin of Jane Phillips as an artist of the 1970’s and offers some insight into her artistic ethos. It is here where we can begin to see some of the similarities between her artistic practice and that of the young, emerging artists who have been presented at Mission Gallery.

 Whilst studying at Central School of Painting (now Central St. Martins) during the late 1970’s, Jane’s practice could be termed ‘obsessive’. ‘Obsessive’ is a term that has been heard repeatedly throughout the duration of Ben Rowe’s exhibition, ‘Second Star to the Right and Straight on Until Morning’.

Jane Phillips’ early sketchbooks are filled with repeated drawings of the same line of coast. Drawings that if laid out would form a panorama of a single view point. A development and evaluation of ideas can be tracked through the sketches of repeated imagery. Almost identical sketches of trees appear time and time again and the development of trees into markmaking can be tracked from book to book.  Drawing exercises and colour technique were of paramount importance in the development of Jane Phillips’ practice. We know from peers that Jane confessed to finding very little help from her tutors. Her interest in Josef Albers, ‘Interaction of Colour’ was deeper than a simple interest to read of his knowledge of the subject; Jane was passionate about completing every exercise he offered, in order to gain full knowledge of how colour could work for her.

No painting was ever begun before intense preparatory work and a full understanding of the colour variation intended for use was gained. Paintings that would appear almost fully formed would be evaluated carefully and re-worked appropriately to ensure the desired effect.

 When we are allowed this level of insight into this working process of an ambitious, passionate undergraduate who developed into one of the most dynamic women working in the contemporary arts, we can begin to see similarities in the work of Ben Rowe.

—Ben Rowe—

Ben as an undergraduate produced predominantly found object based work. Ben has stated that this method of working left him feeling disengaged from the making process and frustrated with his lack of instruction from tutors. Just as Jane methodically learned about colour not from her tutors but through Josef Albers exercises, Ben developed his knowledge of handcrafting MDF through watching online videos; following their guidance to develop his knowledge on how he could manipulate MDF to create his own style of craftsmanship.  

 Whilst Jane observed the landscape and trees, Ben watched 1980’s films which have been watched, re-watched and vigilantly researched. Particular transportation devices are chosen from each film and are sketched and designed before any sculptural work commences. The process is methodical and the careful preparatory work is perhaps not apparent to the viewer when observing the final objects presented. Although there is no denying that each piece of work proudly presents a painstakingly accurate technique. With no machinery involved, each piece is carefully hand-carved and often made of hundreds of smaller pieces which are placed together during installation. Each piece of work presented is often the result of anything from four to six months of crafting.

 Upon entering ‘Second Star to the Right and Straight on Until Morning’, the majority of viewers exclaimed just how tempting it was to touch and interact with the work as a result of Ben’s ability to transform MDF. A prime example is how the dull and lifeless MDF can, through Ben’s manipulation, be transformed into a hand-carved flex of wire that has the ability to look fluid and flexible. It is only through obsessive research, preparation and in-depth knowledge of material that this kind of wizardry can be achieved.

—to conclude the pondering—

Through her experience and development as an artist, Jane Phillips had an ability to identify exceptional talent of this calibre before any exhibiting reputation was needed and through his development and continued ‘obsessive’ dedication there is a bright future of exhibiting potential for Ben Rowe.

For any young artist the example of Jane Phillips and Ben Rowe highlights the need for research and preparation in relation to success. For emerging talent it highlights the importance of venues such as Mission Gallery who with Amanda Roderick as successor to historic values and ambassador of new ideas, continue in the ethos of nurturing development, taking risks and presenting visual and applied art from young and emerging artists.

And for Mission Gallery, it highlights how proud we are to be an artist run, artist led contemporary arts venue.