Powerful new exhibition examines the impact of second homes

Posted On : 29/06/2021

A mythical island and thought-provoking questions about the future of rural Wales serve as the inspiration for a major new exhibition at Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre by local artist Ben Lloyd.

Opening on Saturday 3 July in the St Davids Room, Gwales explores the themes of forgetting, oblivion, escapism and the gentrification of the wild through sculpture, film and sound.

Drawing upon the artist’s own experience of growing up on the St Davids peninsula, along with Osi Rhys Osmond’s concept of ‘Cultural Alzheimer’s’ – used to explain the forgetting of Welsh identity – Gwales looks at the impact of second home ownership on local populations.

The exhibition combines humble materials and objects from farm buildings, which may seem easy to abandon, but prompt viewers to consider the families, communities, heritage and local spirit that they represent.

Ben Lloyd said:

“The title of the exhibition is taken from the story of “The Assembly of the Wondrous Head” in the Mabinogion, where a group of companions live for 80 carefree years in a marble palace, oblivious to the outside world, until a forbidden door is opened and harsh realities return.

“In a contemporary context, the opening of the forbidden door of Gwales is the realisation that, in the words of Welsh poet Mererid Hopwood, ‘we cannot live in oblivion and pretend that all is well, but must look and see and act’.”

Rocky island viewed from the sea

Ben Lloyd studied at art schools in Carmarthen, Liverpool, and Cardiff, before returning to live and work in Pembrokeshire in 2004. He has exhibited widely in group and solo exhibitions, including the British Museum, Liverpool Biennial, and Cardiff’s g39 and Chapter. His previous work has focussed on utopian colonies, such as the hopes of a far paradise in the US for Quakers fleeing persecution in West Wales (The Road to New York, 2015), and the establishment of Freetown, Sierra Leone, and its Krio culture (Empire Kiosk, 2010).

Gwales has been supported by the Arts Council of Wales and will be on display until Sunday 2 August 2021.

Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre is owned and run by the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and is the home of Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales in Pembrokeshire.

Follow the link for more information on Oriel y Parc Gallery and Visitor Centre.