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Review: St David’s Hall exhibition space - 'Triad' and 'Mount Analogue'

(January 30, 2013)

St David's Hall, Cardiff, is hosting simultaneous shows in their exhibition space, running from 26 January to 1 March 2013: Triad, by Gareth, Morgan and Ioan Griffith; and Mount Analogue, by James Moore.

James Moore - Lost CoastLost Coast, James Moore - oil on canvas, 119 x 86 cm

Jennifer Pearce, founder of Art Club, was at the opening ...

Triad - Producing Connections, Ongoing Works
Gareth, Morgan and Ioan Griffith

Gareth Griffith believes all things are connected. His sons, Morgan Griffith and Ioan Griffith, exhibit alongside him at St David's Hall, Cardiff's exhibition space in Triad, having collectively been the mainstay artists of Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno’s recent show, Shelter. The St David Hall show is the first time we have been able to readily view connections between these very different artists' work at a single exhibition. Artists from the north and south, including Iwan Bala and Barrie J Davies, mingled with film crews and journalists at the exhibition opening.

Visitors to St David Hall’s exhibition space will be familiar with the work of Morgan Griffith. Known as Sonomano, his collages portray, what could be seen as, slightly sinister depictions of familiar, found images. His figures are eyeless. Thin lines connect to mushrooms, or intricate geometric patterns (like cat's-cradles) spout from their mouths and beam from their eyes. The lines can be seen as web-like, strong and entangling, or treacherously sharp, like laser beams or cheese wire. Nose Bleed is the most arresting of his works here; a collage on paper depicting a small child in monochrome, with a larger coloured head and painted nosebleed. Reminiscent of the small childhood traumas everyone can relate to.

Ioan Griffith's work is based on found images. Almost all his exhibited pieces are made from found 35mm slides, blown up to a larger scale with the integral frames recreated. Holding a slide is a tactile experience, the texture of the card is almost velvet and there is always intrigue and beauty in the scale of them and their inherent potential is realised only when used with a projector. At this scale, you get the image and the object as one.

Old photographs were not really valued until the 1970s in academic circles. Now, the simple compositions and time-capsule mood of these pictures is being exploited by modern artists. The images and the technology are from the 1970s, with their 'Made in Britain' labels and snapshot naïveté. Using images from family life is part of the zeitgeist: Phil Collins’ contribution to Artes Mundi 5 recently included a slide show of unadulterated, found images; Cardiff artist, Laura Reeves' practice is working with an archive of 382 35mm transparencies. Originally belonging to a man and woman (apparently named Richard and Beryl), and dating from the early sixties onwards, Reeves found them in a charity shop.

Ioan likes a pun. My favourite here was Ffoncof Fer (short memory stick), its Welsh title revealing this to be a walking stick to aid memory. The visual gag being a stout stick - too short to be used for walking by most people - handily including the addition of a USB device; helpful for those of us with a short memory. Another is the piece Ar Goll (lost), with its bicycle bell attached to a similar stout stick. The bell would be a useful aid to summon help in the dense forest, yet the bell helps transport that action to an urban setting, creating a comedic vision in the mind. A very successful showing for this artist, who had sold all his works by the opening.

Gareth has exhibited widely, having combined a teaching career with his artistic practice throughout his life. Dad to Ioan and Morgan in the literal and, possibly in the artistic sense too. Griffith senior has been revisiting that time in his work recently, a vivid period in his life, working there while raising his two youngest sons, in the early 1970s. Although Morgan had not been born when his family lived in Jamaica. Ioan and Morgan's other brother is a designer, based in Italy. So, Gareth has produced a very creative progeny. Jamaica, he told me, had a very narrow middle class. So, daily contrasts between the wealthy and the poor were real and evident. The colourful landscape and the family tent seem very much in evidence in his work. As seen in the show Shelter, many depictions are made from the models made for that show. His work - juxtaposing the leisure use of tents in Tent 2A with the more survivalist usage in Erecting a Shelter - makes you think about how humanity reacts to the environment it is in, and the fragility of being human without protection.

As this show promises, this is a chance to see three artists at different stages in their careers, which provides the opportunity for south Wales based arts fans to investigate the contemporary art scene in the north.


Mount Analogue, James Moore

James Moore - Mount Analogue
Mount Analogue
, James Moore - oil on canvas, 108 x 74 cm

Cardiff-born artist James Moore spoke to me about his work, which captivated me with its hyper-realistic detail, digitalesque foliage and incongruous shadows. I see similarities to Julian Opie and René Magritte in the use of flattened solid surface and jarring angles.

At first sight, the title image Mount Analogue (above) looks like a depiction of an Arizona mountain scene, painted in a museum diorama. On closer inspection, you can make out its integral steps and platform. In fact, it is a mountain for gorillas, created for a zoo just outside Paris. Moore has depicted it to deliberately make it appear more monumental in scale.

James Moore - Through a glass darklyThrough a glass darkly, James Moore - oil on canvas, 69 x 48 cm

Another picture, White Forest (below), was taken from a screen shot of the computer game Half-Life. It looks like a picturesque view, but the trees seem eerily correct, And, while Moore has realised them beautifully in oil, the programmers' mathematics show through.

James Moore - White ForestWhite Forest, James Moore - oil on canvas, 85 x 69 cm

James is interested in unreal locations. From life-size constructed realities to binary illusions, brought to us via PC and games consoles. These works speak of the visual influence on contemporary generations. Well worth a view.

For more information on James Moore and images of his paintings, see

Jennifer Pearce, 30 January 2013


St David's Hall
The Hayes
CF10 1AH
phone: 029 2087 8500
Twitter: @stdavidshall
Facebook: St David's

Exhibition space open Monday to Saturday, 10:00-16:00.

is available for all works.


Jennifer Pearce - a volunteer with Made in Roath and g39, the artist-run gallery in central Cardiff - is the founder of Art Club and can be followed on Twitter.

If you liked this, you'll also enjoy:

     Review: Eight and a half Welsh comedians, December 2013
The Albany Gallery, Cardiff
, Christmas Exhibition, December 2013
John Gingell Award at g39
, September 2013
Response, Annie Giles Hobbs, June 2013
     Review: Arcadecardiff, June 2013

     Review: St David’s Hall exhibition space - Triad and Mount Analogue, January 2013
Review: St David’s Hall Christmas Exhibition, January 2013
     Taming the Drew? Graffiti as art,
September 2012
     Review: Nothing Like Something Happens Anywhere - Chapter Arts Centre, Canton, Cardiff, August 2012
     National Museum of Art, contemporary galleries, March 2012


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