Picture shows Gweni Llwyd.

Venice Biennale invigilator Heledd reviews fellow invigilator Gweni’s Summer Show exhibit

While she takes part in the Wales in Venice Invigilation Plus Programme with the Arts Council of Wales at the Wales Pavilion, first year Fine Art student Heledd Evans aims to explore her writing skills. Just before she left Cardiff for this career changing experience, Heledd reviewed fellow invigilator Gweni Llwyd’s degree show piece, ‘Dwylo Blewog’. Over to Heledd:

I chose pieces that explored concepts I was interested in – I was excited to write about them, but it was also good experience in writing about the ideas I’ve started to develop.

Gweni Llwyd’s piece, ‘Name’ defies gallery conventions, from its composition to its content. A peculiar array of plinths stand in an arrangement reminiscent of Stonehenge, with room to move between them and interact with each one in turn. Each pillar is intensely tactile – they encourage you to reach out to them. This is unconventional: rarely are we invited to do this, the general gallery outlook being ‘Look, but don’t touch’.

It’s a refreshing change. So often artworks or artefacts are restricted and encased in glass to the point that they are made redundant of their original purpose. Gweni offers a solution to this, encouraging us to fully participate with the work.
The plinths vastly differ in size, colour and texture, yet they do speak cohesively together. Their differences emphasise their own materiality – the pebbledash is reinforced in its unyielding stubbornness by the delicateness of the fur. These conversations between seemingly unrelated elements feature heavily in the piece. Embedded in three of the plinths are videos. The footage is a strange mix of animated, archival and primary footage; all combined in such a way that creates narratives between similar formal elements. The accompanying soundtrack is hypnotic and trance-like. It informs the mood, with sudden changes in the audio altering the way we connect to the video.

Each material’s accompanying video intensifies our relation to it. The pink furry video shows hands petting and stroking animals and materials – they reinforce the tactility of the plinth and make you want to reach out and mimic the behaviour. The plaster plinth requires you to look down to view the video, differing from how the material usually sits above us and goes unnoticed. Gweni gives these seemingly mundane materials a sense of agency. They are transformed by the digital content, and the digital content transformed by them. Virtual material seldom speaks to us in the way that physical objects do: we can’t feel it or directly relate to it. Here both are combined. The plinths ground the videos in reality, exceeding in blurring the distinction between what is here now and what exists elsewhere. It is an experience unlike any other and succeeds in everything an artwork should.

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Photo: Gweni Llwyd and her Summer Show work