56 Group Wales
at cross purposes - three-way conversation between two artists and a curator
This touring exhibition is presented by 56 Group Wales and is curated by Dr Frances Woodley. It is the outcome of three-way email conversations conducted between two artists and a curator during the 'lockdowns' of 2020 and 2021. Sixteen group members were partnered by sixteen invited artists from all over the UK and Ireland. Both the exhibition and the accompanying book of conversations reveal meeting points and divergences that make for lively, generous and wide- ranging exchanges. The project has involved a deep and transformational engagement with the creative experience of another artist and produced a useful model for curatorial practice.
Grwp 56 Cymru – 56 Group Wales at Oriel Môn
‘At Cross Purposes’: A three-way conversation between two artists and a curator.
Oriel Mon will be launching a brand-new exhibition, on Saturday 29th of April at 2.00pm. The exhibition At Cross Purposes is a creative curatorial project initiated by the renowned artist group, Grwp 56 Cymru - 56 Group Wales, in partnership with artists from all over the UK and Ireland.
The project has culminated in a travelling exhibition launching in Oriel Môn, Llangefni. The two-year long project required that sixteen members of 56 Group Wales be partnered with sixteen invited artists for a three-way email conversation with a curator, a form of contemporary letter writing particularly well-suited to Covid 19 lockdowns when artists were often confined to makeshift studios.
The project title, At Cross Purposes: three-way conversations between two artists and a curator reflects its mix of conversation, creative practice and imaginative curation. The exhibition is accompanied by a substantial book of these conversations and is available for sale at the Oriel shop. This exhibition and the process by which it was achieved is a must-see for artists, students and the general public.
Nicola Gibson, Visitor Experience Manager, Oriel Môn stated “We are delighted to be the very first venue to launch this experimental exhibition curated by Dr Frances Woodley. Our visitors will be amazed by the work on show, which includes a diverse mix of paintings, sculpture, installation, and new media work. The informative conversations had between artists and curator, will I’m sure make this exhibition a well-rounded and enriching experience for everyone.”
At Cross Purposes is a creative curatorial project supported by 56 Group Wales that has led to the production of new work and new partnerships, a touring exhibition and accompanying book. The title of the project reflects its mix of conversation, creative practice and curation. The purpose of the project has extended members’ creative practice through partnerships with artists from across geographical, generational and thematic borders to re-identify 56 Group Wales not just as the modernist avant-garde group it started out as in 1956, but as a cognizant, creative, collective and critical contributor to contemporary art in Wales. The project builds on and continues what has already been started by the group itself.
The project required that sixteen members of 56 Group Wales each be partnered with an invited artist from elsewhere in the UK and Ireland as selected by the project director, Dr Frances Woodley. Each pair of artists were then invited to engage with her in a three-way conversation/correspondence using email. Thirty-two artists and a curator have thus been involved in this project over a period of time that spanned the Covid-19 lockdowns when artists were often confined to makeshift studios. The curation of the exhibition at Oriel Môn reflects these conversations through the pairing of artists' works.
Conversation is both a meeting of minds and a talking at cross purposes. Change occurs during this process which, in turn, becomes the subject of further conversation. Correspondents have needed to be to be reflective, reflexive and generous—each party seeking out the best in the other.
Though highly structured, the outcome of the project was not prescribed. Tiffany Oben, 56 Group Wales member, summarised it thus: ‘There is a sense of setting something in motion, to allow it the freedom to evolve, to see what becomes of it and where it leads. The project will result in an unspecified exchange of some kind, an act of generosity and openness in an attempt to find understanding through ‘conversation’ establishing the Other as co-creator [possibly]. In this way, the artist becomes explorer [collaborator, contributor, sharer, friend] and the proposed process becomes the practice regardless of expertise and preferences for media.’
We live in a time when borders, identities and loyalties are being called into question. The ways in which many artists approach this situation is by undertaking creative and dialogical practice with others. Dialogue exposes artists and their practice to the unfamiliar and overlooked and generates new perspectives.
Dr Frances Woodley, Project Director
Aberystwyth University School of Art Museum and Galleries, Buarth Mawr, Aberystwyth, Wales UK, SY23 1NG, 14 Feb - 24 April 2023, Mon - Fri, 10am - 5pm.
Oriel Môn, Rhosmeirch, Llangefni/Anglesey, LL77 7TQ, 29 April - 11 June 2023, Tues-Sun, 10am-5pm.
QSS Studio & Gallery, 2nd Floor, The Arches Centre, 11-13 Bloomfield Ave, Belfast BT5 5AA, 7 September - 28 September 2023, Mon - Fri, 10am - 5pm.
Elysium Gallery, 210 High St, Swansea SA1 1PE, 11 Nov - 23 Dec 2023, Wed - Sat, 11am - 9pm.
AT CROSS PURPOSES: THREE WAY CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN TWO ARTISTS AND A CURATOR, ed. Dr Frances Woodley.
Available from the Oriel Môn shop. Price £24. Also available from 56 Group Wales