Following on from the initial Lines and Strata exhibition in 2006, a call for submissions for Lines & Strata 2 is imminent. Watch this space…
What is Lines & Strata?
“Lines and Strata: Wales Drawing Today” at Oriel Mwldan, Cardigan.
Drawing by artists born, living or working/studying in Wales
Line: strip, stripe or thread
Strata: underlayering, tier, lamination, vertical depth.
The title refers to the mechanics of drawing process rather than subject matter; how a linear or calligraphic construction develops across a picture surface; built over layers of adjustments and corrections.
“Lines and Strata” presents a cross-section of contemporary drawing practice from artists born in, living or working in Wales.
This exhibition has been selected by four artists who identify drawing as central to their own art practices. They have imposed no restrictions of size, date or medium; time-based and three dimensional works have been included where the elements of drawing predominate. Consequently, both fine and applied arts are represented.
Comprising an intriguing range of work, “Lines and Strata” does not guarantee to define what drawing is, but promises to provoke debate about what drawing might be.
Lines and Strata in situ at Oriel Mwldan
Case notes on an Open Drawing Show at a Regional Arts Centre; organised and curated for and by Artists.
1 The Submission Process
Ease of access for applicants was of prime concern to us. Initial submissions were to be sent by e-mail, disc or photos / slides by post. We were heartened by the photographic quality of the submissions; very few slides, photographs or digital jpegs were sub-standard. Though of course we did find some colour balance bias when the actual work arrived, this show was after all being selected on criteria of line and calligraphic mark-making rather than subtle colour harmony. We felt this was preferable to a situation which required an artist from say, Wrexham, to deliver work and return home; await our decision and make a second return journey, possibly to collect rejections. I don’t enter work on those terms anymore and would not impose those terms on others. Such a process might have pre-selected only those artists with the time and economic wherewithal to devote to such excursions, thereby excluding work from more financially constrained artists who might nevertheless be producing exciting art.
Entry to this show was free at the point of submission. . When I first subscribed to artists Newsletter 23years ago, the practice of charging for entry forms was very unusual. Now, it is the norm. As in the broader social context, the have nots are used to subsidise the haves… why perpetuate a system in which the uninvited are required to pay for the partygoers? We felt that those artists whose work was deemed unsuitable for this particular show would not be required to pay. There was a most positive response by artists to our decision to waive a submission fee. When they realised that there was no financial commitment at the point of entry, they were quite happy to pay the hanging fee of £7.50 per work once their inclusion in the exhibition was assured. In a rather interesting financial aside, we found that even a self-funding show like this one, after all administrative expenses, still left us £300 to offer as a prize. [incidentally awarded to Trudi Finch].
3 No size restrictions
drawing can be as physically imposing as painting and sculpture. If any artist felt they might like to submit large scale work, they were free to do so in the knowledge that they need only pay framing costs once that work was guaranteed a berth in the exhibition; again, no prior financial commitment was required.
4 Cv not required
We didn’t ask for a C.V. at the submission stage. We feel it is a mark of intellectual laziness to refer to an artists background if a selection panel can’t make a decision based on the visual evidence before them. Any C.V.’s sent at this time were ignored. This has actually vindicated our selection, for though most works chosen did tend to come from artists with a recognised track record, there were pieces by as yet unknown artists. If Lines and Strata proves to be their entree into the public arena, the project will have been well worthwhile
5 No age restriction
Why do so many opportunities construct an age limit barring under 16’s? Why are students awarded their own subsidiary prize? Our view was that if a sixth-former or college student produced a drawing good enough to warrant inclusion in the show it was good enough to be considered for the main prize. At the other end of the age scale, why do so many competitions consider that the creative process ends after the age of 45 years? In any other occupation this attitude would be deemed discriminatory and punishable by law.
6 The venue
Over several years, we have developed a rapport with the personnel who operate Theatr Mwldan, our region’s premier art centre. Without this bank of goodwill, the ”Lines and Strata” project would not have developed.
Oriel Mwldan is the perfect gallery space for a project of this kind.
a] It is a very versatile space on two levels with an integral screentrack providing a variety of irregularly sized bays, and the stairwell provides a substantial vertical space which we were able to utilise for large scale, vertically-biased work.
b] It is staffed by a supportive team. My colleges and I would like to thank them all for their forebearance and cooperation during the organisational phase of the exhibition, and for their enthusiasm once the work was on the walls. Particular thanks should go to Louise O’Neil, who facilitated the talks and workshops which we ran concurrently with the show, and Sam Vicary our exhibitions organiser. They both took a professional risk on four artists with no recognised curatorial track record and with no means of funding behind them. They have constantly provided advice and been extremely generous with their time throughout the entire process.
7 The Exhibition
Which leads me to the artwork submitted. We all know that the principality of Wales is producing visual art which can sit comfortably beside anything being produced anywhere at this time.
We hoped that the submission might to some extent reflect this current level of achievement. Our expectations were fully met by a range of work which was uniformly technically accomplished; at turns lyrical, witty, intellectually rigorous, challenging.
Visitor book quotes
“Some terrific work; please curate another”
“Stimulating work of excellent Quality”
“Very well put together”
“A great credit to Cardigan”
“Best exhibition yet in the Mwldan – great impact”
“This is my sixth visit. It really is the best exhibition I’ve seen here in many a long year. It appeals on all levels. Thank you.”
“One of the best exhibitions of art I have seen put together in Wales”
[this information can be verified by Sam Vicary; Mwldan Exhibition Organiser tel.01239 622 400]
Our thanks go to all the artists who contributed their work to this project; our only regret is that we were unable to raise the funding for the production of the full colour catalogue which this work truly merited…This problem will be addressed in the organising of Lines and Strata 2. Watch this space..
Glenn Ibbitson April 28th 2006