Notes from Wales Issue 1: Autumn 2014 - Page 20

From our correspondent in... South Wales Viva La Valleys Bob Gelsthorpe, our south Wales correspondent, introduces the wealth of artist-led activity in the region Artist-led activity has always been in the vanguard of promoting new developments in artists’ practice and never more so than in south Wales, where initiatives like g39 and tactileBOSCH have served as trailblazers. Now a new wave of artist-led projects is entering the field. First stop is in Abertillery, Blaenau Gwent, where Zosia Krasnowolska and Dafydd Williams have been running The Kickplate Gallery in a former hairdressers since 2013. A kickplate is the sheet of metal installed at the bottom of a wall where a hairdressing chair would sit, to prevent bored customers damaging the walls. The name also suggests that the project is ‘kicking back’ against small-town boredom and the lack of galleries in the area. Since its inception the gallery has exhibited work by no fewer than 44 artists from over 20 countries and 3 continents and, in a short space of time, has developed a great reputation for the quality of its shows. This ambitious programme continues with the recent exhibition ‘dall’Esterno’ (8 August – 6 September 2014), a show of seven artists from what, in western Europe, is perceived to be ‘eastern Europe’. Profiled I usually describe myself as an artist, but I find the term creative practitioner encompasses a lot more of what I do. I was born in Blackpool, but now live in Cardiff. My work is about generosity and reciprocation, but that breaks down into three main strands of practice-based research: artist-led activity and its insurgence; studio practice and its role as a ‘catalytic chamber’; and the legacy of both and what that legacy means in social, emotional, visual and political terms. What that means to me is an emphasis on discovery and empathy. I’m currently working on ‘A Giant, Whose Shoulders I Stand On’, a curatorial project with Cardiff Contemporary that will be the second in a trilogy of exhibitions based on ideas of generosity and faith, as a reciprocation through artists invested in (but not limited to) South Wales. I graduated from Cardiff School of Art and Design in 2012 and currently enjoy working at Bit Studios, an artist-led studio complex in east Cardiff. See Bob’s profile on Axisweb > The Kickplate Gallery. Credit: Zosia Krasnowolska NOTES FROM WALES | AUTUMN 2014 19