Notes from Wales Issue 1: Autumn 2014 - Page 32

Notes from Wales Finding your feet is easier if someone gives you a hand Alicia Miller discusses some of the inspiring programmes that are supporting emerging artists in Wales A couple weeks ago, I went to Turner House to see At Home He’s a Tourist, part of Ffotogallery’s Wish You Were Here 2014. It’s a series of short exhibitions that Ffotogallery organises every three years to showcase emerging talent in lens-based media here in Wales. For an established gallery to show work by emerging artists is an important form of support. It is this independent validation by a respected curator, gallery space or commissioning organisation that makes the proverbial art world go round. It’s a critical first step into the professional world for early career artists. One of the artists in At Home He’s a Tourist was Freddy Griffiths. I’ve known Freddy’s work since I saw it at his MA show in 2012 at Swansea Met. I got to know Freddy when he was selected for Axisweb’s Out and Beyond programme, which supported five recent graduates from MA programmes in Wales in the development of their practice during that critical year after graduation, where you come out of the somewhat cloistered academic community and into the wider contemporary art world. Out and Beyond paired these artists – also including Phil Lambert, Shaun James, Ian Wilkins and Megan Wyatt – with curators from arts organisations across Wales for one-to-one mentoring and general advice about the art world and how it works. Cymraeg > Freddy worked with David Drake and Helen Warburton at Ffotogallery. His year after graduation was not an easy one in terms of practice. He moved to Nottingham and began working at the Djanogly Art Gallery, but continued to spend time in Swansea, where he is from. He wasn’t sure where he was going with his photography and whether he would continue to work in the medium he’d done his MA in. Participating in Wish You Were Here gave a clear impetus – something to work towards – and conversations with Helen Warburton helped hone his thinking around the work. What he produced clearly marked a new direction for Freddy, while still being underpinned by his sophisticated engagement in questions of representation in photography. The work is lucid and thoughtful. Pulling apart a series of ‘Illustrated Regional Guides to Scotland and Wales’, he unravels its representations of place and invites us to contemplate its construction. The photographs of photographs are a kind of mirror window on the real, reflecting back on us an image of what we think we see. Profiled I began working as the Axisweb Associate in Wales in November 2010. I am Axisweb’s eyes and ears on the ground in Wales, talking to people, writing about its interesting and intense artistic community and giving Axisweb an offline presence in the country. Read Alicia’s Notes from Wales > See Alicia’s profile on Axisweb > Supporting the work of early career artists is usually left to artist collectives and small-scale local spaces and they do important work to bring attention to unknown artists. But there is a role for