Keith Bayliss took over R&J's Instagram page from 25th - 31st January 2021.
DAY ONE: Monday 25th January
Two years ago, I produced four large works in oil on canvas as a central facet of my Yo Lo Fi/Fe Welais i exhibition in The Tannery at MoMA Machynlleth (May/June2019). Each exhibition is an opportunity to make new work and this exhibition was created specifically for the space in which it was displayed.Yo lo fi/Fe welais i, in part, pays homage to a creative friendship with my long-time friend, the late writer and teacher Malcolm Parr, who died in 2020. It was a friendship and working relationship which proved to be of fundamental importance to my development as an artist. The exhibition was also a personal visual response to influences and situations that are currently at play in the world.
The exhibition also featured eleven small figures, seated “visitors” and Shrine - first shown in Susana and the Elders at Oriel Q in Narberth. This subject has fascinated artists for centuries – the story is an old and sadly continuing one. Aspects of its drama are enacted in some form each day with sometimes tragic consequences.... A painting titled ‘Swsana’, produced many years ago was the starting point for this exhibition. The three main protagonists in the story, Swsana and the two elders, are made as half life-size figures in a self-contained environment or enclosure and created from wooden screens painted with seated and falling figures.
Images 1-5: Yo Lo Fi at The Tannery, MoMa Machynlleth Images 6-8: Swsana at Oriel Q Narberth
DAY TWO: Tuesday 26th January
My most recent exhibitions have all incorporated a sound element produced by my son, the musician Joseph Bayliss. These haunting soundscapes are an integral and complementary part of the environment and often feature the poetry of David Thomas as a part of this audio visual collage. Included here is a short clip from their work on ‘Shrine’.
Full length versions and additional soundtracks can be listened to on my website www.keithbayliss.co.uk
Shrine was a response to the current phenomena of roadside shrines appearing everywhere. They are attached to trees, park benches, viewed from the roadside or a public path. Old places of remembering and contemplation are falling into disuse, becoming redundant, we are a people in need of the spiritual. It is an ongoing subject matter and interest for me. We are lost, spiritually adrift. We inhabit a world of roadside shrines and makeshift memorials. Art provides a scrapbook resource of images removed from our experience, a place of reference but many of us cannot read them. But still they are important. They contain something essential.
The first collaboration for Joe and I was Hortus Conclusus: The Enclosed Garden at Mission Gallery in 2012. This site specific exhibition saw a change in my practice and set in place ideas and imagery I continue to develop. Am grateful to Clive Hick Jenkins for the kind words he wrote about my work at that time.
1: ‘Feet’ from Hortus Conclusus 2-4: Shrine installation (Oriel Q & MoMa Machynlleth) 5-6: Hortus Conclusus, Mission Gallery 2012 7: Quote from Clive Hicks Jenkins essay, ‘Keith Bayliss and the Hortus Conclusus 2011
DAY THREE: Wednesday 27th January
In February 2013, I was invited to be the Artist in Residence at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. It was a great pleasure to be able to set up a studio alongside the Stanhope Letter Press. I spent the month as resident there, producing over thirty preliminary drawings in pencil and then in ink and wash, cutting blocks, proof printing by hand and finally printing ten blocks in an edition of two on the Stanhope Press and a series printed by hand in an edition of five. I called this project The Journey. I rarely make one-off prints, they seem always to develop into a series and a narrative begins. The story in this case is not a new one for me – an individual moving through life, facing adversity, dreaming, hoping and hopefully finding solace – but as the first few drawings were being made, aspects of the space in which I was working affected the imagery. I was there to make prints and use the Stanhope Press, but the presence of the displayed objects surrounding me – symbols of human endeavour – and discussions with visitors and staff, encouraged thought processes and ideas that played into the work.
I have, throughout my life as an artist, worked with writers both from Wales and abroad. When asked to be a resident artist, I immediately invited my friend David Thomas, a Welsh poet based in Birmingham to collaborate. The contents of this limited edition box-set are the outcome of this opportunity.I must thank Steph Mastoris, Head of the National Waterfront Museum for the opportunity, help and encouragement.
DAY FOUR: Thursday 28th January
I miss the seemingly haphazard, anarchic and wonderfully creative phone call conversations with my friend the artist William Brown, who died in 2008. William, by his immense enthusiasm to make and exhibit and to be as inclusive as possible, made him a dynamic presence in Wales and abroad. Our ‘The Haunted House’ exhibition at the Dylan Thomas Centre Swansea in 2006 for me, was important. I had made small constructions, in tissue and wood, for my own interest, but I chose to make Still-Life, apples on tables. But my still life apples had leaves that became wings, everything painted white and were the Souls of Fruit. We had readings and poetry from David Woolley, David Greenslade, Malcolm Parr and David Thomas.
Several years before his death, William proposed a three artist exhibition exploring the theme of Venus - a subject which predates written history from the Palaeolithic period to the present day. Venus is the first Icon and aspects of Venus find themselves reflected and re-interpreted, in Pagan and Christian iconography and referenced in contemporary life. This exhibition consisted of mainly new work produced by Me, William and Roger Moss and was first exhibited at Oriel Q, Narberth in 2018 and a year later shown at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre in Cwmbran.
Thank you William, for always pushing me in this odd and inimitable William fashion into unknowingly making a wonderfully expressive addition to my visual vocabulary.
(i) The Healer (for William Brown). Diptych. oil on canvas, 122x168cm, 2008
ii) La Maison Hantee, Still Life, 2006
iii) Venus, Oriel Q Narberth, 2018
DAY FIVE: Friday 29th January
At the moment I am drawing. In a day I can produce many. Or sometimes pitifully few. I am using drawing to explore an idea for an exhibition which will consist of 20-35 sculpted heads that will ‘people’ a gallery. I will accompany the exhibition with a separate but related show of drawings. I am hoping to select from these.
It is intimidating to sit in front of a clean white sheet of paper. But oddly, at the same time I find it exciting, to make a mark not knowing what may appear. Of course a familiar image will appear. An image from the small repertoire of images I use. The repertoire does grow, but very slowly.
DAY SIX: Saturday 30th January
Once again, a female figure has become the central character in my work. I did not know who she was. As I started to make marks with my pen the name Proserpina came to mind and stuck there as I drew.
I did some research about this story and realised that this was her, the character coerced into spending half the year in the place of the dead. My Proserpina spends her time consoling the Souls. And it seems that my drawings in pen, brush and ink are coming full circle and telling her story. I do like surprises!
DAY SEVEN: Sunday 31st January
This character who has become Proserpina walks through the landscape along a path, lined with Souls.She would be anxious at first. She engages in conversation. She appears wearing what could be a halo. A real Goddess!
Nothing is new. The same stories persist. We are human and fallible. We love, need, lie and deceive. These are all subjects visited by many artists over the centuries. I have known them since I began looking at art, when I was a child. The stories are as old as mankind but are also painfully contemporary and can take many forms. They are often the stories of innocents; stories that reveal the worst in us, that which is tragic and destructive. They are also stories of the triumph of truth over lie.
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