Artes Mundi is the world’s largest international art prize. The exhibition opened on 21 October and shows at various locations around Cardiff, including National Museum Wales and Chapter Arts Centre.
The £40,000 prize of Artes Mundi 7 was awarded to John Akomfrah. The Welsh artist Bedwyr Williams was awarded Artes Mundi's Derek Williams Trust Purchase Award of £30,000. The work of all shortlisted artists will be shown until February 2017.
Photo: Bedwyr Williams, Artes Mundi 7
Helping artists and creative professionals to thrive to make great work and have sustainable careers in their chosen field is one of Arts Council of Wales’ main aims.
So while the exhibition is in Cardiff, and in celebration of a Welsh artist winning the Derek Williams Trust Purchase Award, here’s a little history of Bedwyr Williams’s development and how he came to be on the shortlist for Artes Mundi 7.
Bedwyr Williams is one of the artists who Arts Council of Wales have supported by various means over the years to make original and innovative works of art. His work often draws upon the quirky banalities of his own autobiographical existence. With his sculpture, installations, text and photography based works and live performances Bedwyr explores subject matter ranging from growing up in Colwyn Bay with size 13 feet, to a mini bus crash with four other artists in residence (in which he is the only survivor).
A Creative Wales Award
Back in 2010/11, Bedwyr Williams was one of 18 artists across all artforms to be presented with a Creative Wales Award.
These awards offer invaluable research time for artists at a critical stage in their professional career who want to develop new skills, research new opportunities or develop new partnerships. The Award was made to Bedwyr to develop new methods of working that reflect and react to the farming world which is slowly disappearing from our everyday lives.
Bedwyr at the Biennale
In 2013 Bedwyr Williams was selected to be Wales’ representative as a Collateral Event at the 55th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition.
The Venice Biennale remains the most important and prestigious event on the international contemporary visual arts calendar. His show was curated by two of Wales’s leading galleries; Mostyn and Oriel Davies and was shown in the Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, midway between the critical exhibition sites for the Biennale of the Giardini and the Arsenale.
At the Ludoteca he presented The Starry Messenger, which explored the relationships between stargazing and the home, the cosmos, and the role of the amateur in a professional world.
Before taking his work to Venice had given us a glimpse into his thinking. He called an Amateur Convention which was hosted at the Oakdale Workers Institute at St Fagans: National History Museum, Cardiff. The aim of this convention was to present talks, performances and film screenings that explore the relationship between stargazing and the home.
And who knew…?
His selection for the 2013 Venice Biennale was a fitting choice. Back in the 2005 Biennale during a presentation of work in the Welsh Pavilion by artists Peter Finnemore, Paul Granjon and Laura Ford in their exhibition Somewhere Else, Bedwyr Williams was awarded an artist placement commission by Cywaith Cymru Artworks Wales.
This took place alongside the official exhibition as a complementary add-on. It eventually led to the creation of a book and presentation by Bedwyr on the Giudecca entitled BASTA, the Italian for "That’s Enough!" BASTA was a rueful and wry reflection on the homesickness of the artist in residence.
Nurturing creative careers
Bedwyr is one of the many artists supported by Arts Council of Wales to build successful and sustainable careers as artists. In Gallery 21 of National Museum Cardiff his work Tyrrau Mawr (Big Towers) soars high into the landscape of his fictional city on the slopes of Cader Idris. A new high in Bedwyr’s career, perhaps?
Want to read more?
Take a look back at Cardiff's long tradition of celebrating radical and thought-provoking art here.