SOFA 2012

SOFA_logo_500Sculptural Objects & Functional Art Fair

Park Lane Armory             New York – Efrog Newydd
20 – 23 April – Ebrill 2012

Wales’ presence at SOFA New York has been supported by Wales Arts International

Mae presenoldeb Cymru yn SOFA Efrog Newydd wedi cael ei gefnogi gan Celfyddydau Rhyngwladol Cymru.

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Ferrin Gallery in Wales 2012


Located opposite Ruthin Craft Centre’s booth at SOFA New York, 2012 was a dynamic display from Ferrin Gallery, Pittsfield MA. Ferrin Gallery was established in 1979 by 3 artists including Leslie Ferrin and is nationally known as a contemporary gallery specialising in figural sculpture and studio ceramics.

In addition to the Ferrin Gallery booth, the 15th Anniversary of SOFA New York saw Ferrin Gallery in partnership with Sienna Gallery, presenting a preview installation of the ongoing project COVET.

Molly Hatch
COVET curated by Ferrin Gallery & Sienna Gallery

Inspired by conversations between Museum of Fine Arts Boston curator, Emily Zilber and designer/artist Molly Hatch and Chris Antemann, COVET is an ongoing series of projects by contemporary artists inspired by museum collections and conversations about content, context, social history and patronage. Curated by Leslie Ferrin and Sienna Patti, the preview of COVET at SOFA New York, April 2012 included design, sculpture, ceramic, painting, photography, print and works on paper.

‘one of the strongest trends in contemporary art today is the reinterpretation of history as presented through modern ideas. Through the COVET project, we are pleased to offer our exhibition and public programs as an opportunity to inspire the creation of new artwork whilst simultaneously forging new relationships between museum curators and contemporary artists’.
– Leslie Ferrin

Following SOFA, New York, Leslie Ferrin has been invited by Mission Gallery, Swansea on a research visit to Wales during 25th November – 30th November as part of the Wales Arts International initiative, ‘Wales Curatorial Visits 2012 – Opening Gallery Doors to the World’. Mission Gallery are looking forward to building upon the research done at New York and have proposed a broad programme across Wales, using the fantastic resources and strong network of Applied Arts venues. There is a focus on Leslie Ferrin meeting ceramicist and Creative Wales Ambassador, Claire Curneen and Fireworks Clay Studios, other visits range from individual artist studio visits, to collectives, as well as exhibition, museum and gallery visits; ensuring that the wealth of visual and applied art across Wales is promoted.


The projects in COVET range from updates of subject or content; the recreation of an object using new technology; conceptual installations or “interventions” produced as collaborations with museums. Artists are currently engaged with curators and collections at multiple venues including Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; the Sterling and Francine Clark Institute, Williamstown, MA; the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; the High Museum, Atlanta, GA; and Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA.

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Eleri Mills: Creative Wales Ambassador / Llysgennad Cymru Creadigol

During Eleri Mills’ residency at Ruthin Craft Centre in 2011 as part of her Arts Council of Wales’ Creative Wales Ambassador Award, she spoke about her work in her studio one evening with Dr Jessica Hemmings. These notes taken during her talk offer an insight into her work:

Tra yr oedd Eleri Mills yn ymgymryd cyfnod preswyl yng Nghanolfan Grefft Rhuthun yn 2011 fel rhan o wobr Llysgennad Cymru Creadigol y Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru, buodd yn trafod ei gwaith gyda Dr Jessica Hemmings un noswaith gan roi golwg arbennig ar ei gwaith. Dyma ychydig o nodiadau diddorol  o’r sgwrs:

“While I was in college I started combining hand stitching with painting and that’s a process that I’ve been developing ever since. But as well as doing hand stitched work, I’ve always practice normal regular drawing and it’s the need to draw which has always fuelled my work, whether it’s in pencil, charcoal or stitch. In any case it is the subject matter, which is my main concern.

The landscape around me continues to inspire me very much and the flowing landscape of Montgomeryshire is particularly distinctive. I like to portray the gentle organic roundness of this landscape in my work. I do straightforward charcoal studies as well as ink work. I find that ink sometimes unlocks ideas because you have to be very focused – it’s not something you can rub out and you’ve ‘had it’ if something starts to go wrong. Working with ink can sometimes push me forward if I’m getting stuck.

Talking about a very intensely coloured landscape, I was trying to achieve a vivid sense of place – quite emotional actually. Inspired by the paintings of the Welsh artist, J.D Innes. These paintings were made one hundred years ago and they portray Arenig Fawr, Meirionnydd, near Trawsfynydd in almost psychedelic colours. I also did a series of quite large-scale landscapes, which were about embracing landscapes – landscapes that embrace you. Another way of portraying the Montgomeryshire landscape, which is rounded and rhythmic… 

Embroidery has the tradition of suppressing the female, but I’ve always found it extremely liberating and for instance, I choose to stitch standing up and I’m always walking when I’m stitching, which is maybe difficult for someone to understand. I work with very, very long threads which allow me to walk back to see what’s happening and look at the work in progress, because it’s merely another ‘painting’ for me – it has to have the right composition, it has to have the right balance, and I can only asses that at a distance. So if I were to stitch in static, traditional way that wouldn’t be possible to do.

Some of the stitched pieces are about layered landscapes and they’re about revealing things and listening to the landscape. They’re about the poetry of a place. The stitched process and the appliqué process seem to be perfect for interpreting landscape in those terms.

Two years ago I started a part time MA course in Aberystwyth in print making, and I’ve been going there part time ever since. During that time I’ve been experimenting with work on acetate, which is a plastic film. I ink it up and then scrape / wipe off the ink to reveal the imagery. I’ve found a very new sense of freedom in this work – it is an adventurous time for me. 

A lot of the work that I have been doing recently, particularly the work on the MA, is a celebration of womanhood. I see very distinctive female forms within the landscape – also human forms in general. These can be intangible and ambiguous as is the landscape – it’s just a natural way of looking at things.

I’ve always liked the mark making possibilities that you get with printmaking, particularly etching, and lithography as well – it’s just another method of drawing. I find it very refreshing going from one medium to another. So I like to be able to go from the printmaking to the charcoal to the pen and ink, to the stitched work – It gives me a huge sense freedom and it makes me very happy. So, printmaking is just another process that I can use to express the ideas.

I’ve always thought that the work should be highly expressive and the work that I’m doing now is almost like a choreography, which I like very much, although I find it physically very tiring and involves a lot of movement, I’m trying to get that movement through into my artwork. I find that very exciting – the possibility of creating that sense of movement in the mark making. It is something that I’d like to develop further and perhaps work with actors or dancers in the future.

The landscape is a frame of mind. During my artistic journey which started about 35 years ago the landscape has evolved and has been many things along the way from the very graphic imagery for the National Farmers Union commissioned panels (which had to be correct in detail) through to figures within an ancestral landscape to the very emotional landscapes that I have been producing recently on the MA in Aberystwyth on the acetate. It’s an on-going artistic adventure, so it’s a job to know how it will develop over the next year or so. But I am very grateful to have been given this Creative Wales Ambassador Award, which will allow me to go to new places and to absorb new influences.”

As part of Eleri’s Creative Wales Ambassador Awards, she is undertaking a residency at Columbia University, New York until the end of April 2012. We look forward to see how her work has developed during her time in the Big Apple.

We caught up with Eleri Mills during SOFA New York and here’s a video of her talking about her time as a resident artist at Columbia University and her presentation at SOFA:

Fel rhan o wobr Llysgennad Cymru Creadigol, mae Eleri Mills yn ymgymryd preswyl yng Ngholeg Columbia, Efrog Newydd tan ddiwedd Ebrill 2012. Rydym yn edrych ymlaen i ddarganfod syt mae ei gwaith wedi datblygu ers eu chyfnod yma.

Dyma Eleri Mills yn siarad am ei chyfnod preswyl yn Ngholeg Columbia, Efrog Newydd ac am ei chyflwyniad yn SOFA Efrog Newydd:

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Adriano Berengo and Glasstress

Glasstress at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York

Glasstress is a project set up by Adriano Berengo in the glass making region of Venice, Murano. He first invited artists to work with his studio in Murano in the 1980’s and the resulting glass art research projects have continued to draw attention. Glasstress was represented as a major collateral event at the Venice Biennale of Art in 2009 and 2011.

Glasstress was present at SOFA New York 2012 and simultaneously at The Museum of Arts and Design also in New York.

We caught up with Adriano Berengo at SOFA and he told us a little about the ideas behind Glasstress:

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SOFA Archive: Catrin Howell

West Wales based ceramicist, Catrin Howell was represented by Ruthin Craft Centre at SOFA Chicago in 2003, 2005, 2006. As a direct result of her presence at the show, she was approached by the Clay Studio, Philadelphia and invited for a two month residency in 2007.

Brought up on a farm in Cardiganshire, where her studio is based, Howell creates lively animal sculptures inspired from the surrounding countryside and founded on legend, myth and fantasy. She is renowned for her imaginative portrayal of wild beasts and creatures.

Howell has already made her mark on an international platform having exhibited with Ruthin Craft Centre at SOFA Chicago and Collect, The Crafts Council’s major international contemporary art fair in London for many years. Early in her career, Catrin had a piece of work purchased for the internationally reputed Ceramic Collection in Aberystwyth, Wales. Her work is now found in collections across Europe and the UK, including Prague’s Museum of Decorative Arts, and the International Ceramics Studio Collection in Kecskemet, Hungary.

Having graduated from the University of Wolverhampton and later the Royal College of Art in London, Howell has won several awards for her work including a Fletcher Challenge Merit Award, New Zealand (1994) and the craft Gold Medal at the National Eisteddfod (1999). In 2001 and 2011 Ruthin Craft Centre undertook major solo exhibitions of her work.

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Manabu Hasegawa – Best Artwork in Show

Dust before the wind・Python 6inch, 風の前の塵・パイソン 6インチ, Pencil and colored pencil on paper,velvet,wood panel, 17 3/4×12 5/8×3 1/8 inches, 45×32×8cm, 2011

Congratulations to Japanese artist, Manabu Hasegawa for winning the Best Artwork in Show award. Hasegawa has been represented at SOFA New York 2012 by Megumi Ogita Gallery in Tokyo,

We were all amazed by Hasegawa’s work, a series of real-sized guns made from paper and graphite. The work is incredibly well realised, it’s very hard to believe that the pieces are actually hollow, sculptural replicas.

Image seen here

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SOFA Archive: Rozanne Hawksley

Rozanne Hawksley - Queen of Spades - Courtesy of Ruthin Craft Centre
Photographer: Dewi Tannant Lloyd

Rozanne Hawksley was included in SOFA Chicago 2005 alongside friend and fellow textle artist Audrey Walker.

Hawksley speaks of her delight at being included; ‘My work is often considered to be ‘non-categorised’, therefore. I was so pleased to be included in SOFA. I am always proud to be associated with Ruthin Craft Centre, the support and opportunity they have offered me via the profile and experience at SOFA has been fantastic and invaluable’.

Rozanne Hawksley works predominantly in textiles and embroidery. Using found objects alongside textile and stitch she investigates overarching themes of love and loss, war and suffering, isolation and the abuse of power.

Hawksley attended the Royal College of Art during the initiating moments of postmodernism in the early 1950s and became part of the group that included Lucien Freud, Francis Bacon and John Minton, Her years as a mature student and then tutor at Goldsmiths College, in the late 1970s and 1980s, coincided with the period when the textile course there became the unrivalled centre of international influence in the textile arts.

Whilst living in America, Rozanne undertook commissions for Eleanor Roosevelt and the Kennedy family, and also designed for the Womens Home Industries, the post-war project created by Lady Reading. But it was after her return to Britain and a postgraduate course at Goldsmiths College in the 1970s that she began using textiles and needlework as an art form.

Widely acknowledged as having played a significant role in the development of interdisciplinary textile teaching, research and scholarship, her contribution to the ground-breaking 1988 exhibition, The Subversive Stitch, is regarded as seminal. Since the late eighties Rozanne began to attract the attention of critics and collectors alike and her work appeared in shows across Britain and Europe. She has since exhibited annually, showing in Japan, Europe and the United States, as well as throughout the UK.

One of her works, Pale Armistice is in the collection of the Imperial War Museum, a funeral wreath of white gloves with bleached bones nestled among artificial flowers, has become totemic of the death toll of the First World War.

Now in her seventies Hawksley is still a practicing artist. Much of her art, because it is shown as installation, has no permanent existence except in photographs, and many other pieces have never been seen at all.  During the Spring of 2009, Ruthin Craft Centre organised the first touring solo show devoted to Rozanne Hawksley. Entitled Offerings, which later toured to Mission Gallery in Swansea.

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The Museum of Art and Design, New York

We visited Museum of Arts and Design in Manhattan yesterday. It’s in a great location at Columbus Circle which overlooks Central Park and Broadway, the organisation moved to this current location in 1986.

The Museum of Arts and Design (“MAD”) explores the blur zone between art, design, and craft today. Accredited by the American Association of Museums since 1991, MAD focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the artisanal to the digital.

We saw four exhibitions at the museum many of which featured the work of British artists and makers.

Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design

The exhibition highlights works that deal with issues such as the ephemeral nature of art and life, the quality and content of memory, issues of loss and disintegration, and the detritus of human existence.

On entry to the show there is an installation by Elvira Wersche which uses coloured sands to create a geometric pattern on the floor of the museum. The materials have been collected from locations around the world including holy and sacred sites, the historic site of Troy and Ground Zero in New York.

The show continues with further works by artists such as Pheobe Cummings 2010 piece Flora.

The show also features work by British artists, Catherine Bertola, Linda Florence, Glithero, Andy Goldsworthy, Paul Hazelton, Stephen Livingstone and Julie Parker.

Joe Mangrum performance at SOFA New York

The Museum of Arts and Design continue to expand the exhibition with Swept Away Project at SOFA New York. Artist, Joe Mangrum is making a performance/installation in the MAD booth using coloured sands to make an intricate mandala sand painting.

Glasstress New York: New Art from the Venice Biennales

Glasstress New York: New Art from the Venice Biennales is an innovative and experimental international gathering of glass sculpture created in Murano at the studio of entrepreneur, mentor and founder of Venice Projects has engaged international artists, architects and designers. The resulting works were originally commissioned for and presented at the Venice Biennials of 2009 and 2011. The pieces offer new insights into glass making with installation and sculpture sometimes incorporating light, projection and sound as well as prototypes for production.
Artists featured in the exhibition include: Jan Fabre, Michael Joo, Jaime Hayon, Patricia Urquiola, Tony Oursler and Mike + Doug Starn.

Glassstress also has a stand at SOFA New York 2012

We also saw Hanging Around: Necklaces from the MAD Collection and Beauty in All Things: Japanese Art & Design.

We will be posting our images to Flickr shortly, so look out for more in depth coverage from MAD!

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