When I was in mid-Wales the other day I stumbled across a gem of a small gallery in Newtown, Powys. That sounds patronising, and I have of course since discovered that the Oriel Davies is a well-known and significant arts centre; but at the time I was unaware of its existence and status and simply delighted in an unexpected ‘find’. It has a good web-page for further information so I comment only on impressions from my visit.
‘New Town’ itself is only ‘new’ in the sense that it was indeed created as a new town on the banks of the River Severn by a charter of Edward I dated 16 January, 1279. The grid pattern of the new streets then laid out survives in the present town plan. Oriel Davies, essentially a late 20th century creation with recent additions, lies just outside that central area in parkland; its pavilion-like architecture reflects this situation.
Its main exhibition (lasting till 25 Feb., 2017) was called ‘Imaginary Worlds: Illustration Now’. It consisted of a range of illustrations; this small selection attempts to give a flavour of that range. Benjamin Buckley’s ‘Prawn Island’ grabs the attention as you go in:
In utter contrast to such marine ebullience is Lauren Housego’s stop motion animation:
Further contrast is provided by Penny Hallas’ tiny paintings, viewed through lenses mounted on stands of ‘found objects’, in this case including a hammer head:
In further contrast is ‘An Organism’, a splendid, large, pencil on paper collage by Bobbye Fermie:
What a range of images, what originality, ingenuity, diversity: a splendid exhibition, much enjoyed, all the more so for being so unexpected.