Everyone is welcome to the opening of the Billboard Gallery on the 13th August at Llantarnam Grange, 12pm until 2pm.
Llantarnam Grange has a new Billboard Gallery! Installed in July 2022, this space will showcase new work by Welsh/Wales based artists. Each year they will commission and install a new image, sharing the different perspectives, materials and ideas from a range of artists and makers.
By bringing work outside the gallery walls we hope to celebrate and inspire creativity in the wider community.
Artist Adéọlá Dewis was selected as our first commission through an open call in autumn 2021. Dancing Outside Opens the Road is a new work created by artist Adéọlá Dewis and photographer Catriona Abuneke.
Inspired by Cwmbran’s history of farming and its connections to the tin industry, this piece draws parallels to elements of the Yoruba deity Ogun, the West African god of iron, metal and metal work.
I felt this juxtaposition helped to link my specific aesthetic with the integrity of this beautiful Welsh town. I brought to this work my passion for honouring women and for allowing opportunity to celebrate them through transformation. – Adéọlá Dewis
Transformation here refers to the use of costume and adornment. The apron was designed with simple lines and each costume was envisioned to be an element of lines and symbols that would be repeated – inspired by the vévé (drawing) of Ogun.
Artist Naz Syed of Creative Lives worked closely with Adéọlá and Catriona to make connections in the local community. Four women were invited to take part in the photoshoot, where the joy and spirit of Tabassum Ali, Rahila Hamid, Pytsje, and Buhe Ncube was captured, and transformed into the final billboard artwork.
Giving an explanation of the new work, Adéolá said:
We were thinking about the area of Cwmbran – tin industry, the land and farming. We drew connections to the Yoruba deity associated with work, farming, tools and iron – Ogun. Naz was instrumental in inviting people from the community to take part in the photoshoot. Her approach was intuitive and based on deep knowledge of the beautiful women featured. Catriona brought skill, talent and joy in capturing and editing the images.
Naz Syed, Creative Lives said:
It is really special to be a part of the first billboard project, from being part of the artist selection, to connecting the community and sharing their stories. To be bringing such diverse artwork to the Grange and exhibiting work in the urban landscape for more people to experience it and showcase diverse artists and art really matters. I can’t wait to see Adéọlá’s artwork unveiled and see the people who were part of its faces when they see themselves celebrated and in the spotlight. They each brought compassion, community spirit and a warm energy, with such rich stories of heritage and belonging.
Tabassum Ali, one of the community featured in the work, said:
I have felt privileged and quite honoured to be involved. Because I feel I am just the same as everyone else. To be part of someone else’s vision its quite special. Doing new things for me opens up my mind. I need those challenges outside of work and family.
Louise Jones-Williams, Director of Llantarnam Grange said:
Llantarnam Grange opened in 1966 and has remained at the heart of the artistic and social community in Torfaen for over 50 years. As a venue we play a vital role in our community, bringing people together physically and digitally, supporting artists, improving people’s health and well-being, providing opportunities for talented young people and encouraging creativity for all. The pandemic changed how we thought about presenting artists’ work and we decided we wanted to find new and exciting ways to engage with our local community. We wanted to broaden the public’s access to culture by commissioning and installing artwork on the outside of our building for everyone in Cwmbran to enjoy, communicating that visual art has a home in Cwmbran, with Llantarnam Grange at the centre. We are thrilled to share the piece created by Adéọlá Dewis for our first Billboard Gallery commission which both celebrates local history and embraces the diversity of communities in this area. We aim to bring the transformative power of the arts toas wide an audience as possible and this project aims to remove the barriers which may be experienced by community members who have yet to visit us, making art accessible to everyone before they even enter the building. We hope to continue this type of work which aims to energise public spaces, inspiring and connecting people.
There will be an opening at Llantarnam Grange on Saturday 13 August, 12-2pm, and it will be on display until July 2023.
This project has been funded by the Arts Council of Wales Cultural Recovery Fund. Supported by Creative Lives, Unearthing Creativity and Newport Fusion.
For more information, please visit Llantarnam Grange’s website: https://llantarnamgrange.com/exhibitions/billboard-gallery/