Friday, September 11, 2009

Catherine Bertola: "Artist l Object l Project" National Museum Wales, UK

Artist l Object l Project

Catherine Bertola Michael Cousin Deirdre Nelson

Artists respond to national ceramics collection

Brecknock Museum & Gallery, Brecon will host Artist l Object l Project - three major new installations based on Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’ ceramics collections - from 5 September until 31 October 2009.

Artists Catherine Bertola, Michael Cousin and Deirdre Nelson have used museum pieces ranging from the quotidian to the kitsch to investigate the human, universal nature of the ceramic object.

Catherine Bertola’s site-specific installation work explores the forgotten and invisible histories of places, people and communities. For The People’s Collection of Pottery, Brecknockshire 2009 (image attached), Bertola has assembled and catalogued a temporary museum collection of pottery owned by people from the Brecknockshire area. She reflects on the personal significance and everyday purpose of these items, and the ongoing importance of ceramic as part of our personal and cultural heritage. Bertola has created a wallpaper, Blue Babylonica, based on the familiar Swansea Willow pattern to act as a backdrop to the collection.

Filmmaker Michael Cousin looks at the history and decline of commemorative ceramics as an outlet for political and social commentary in his film H1N1. He has selected a jug made by the Cambrian Pottery, Swansea, dating from 1814, depicting the banishment of Napoleon to Elba. Cousin has digitally recreated this jug with a current major news story - a series of images exploring the paranoia and global hysteria surrounding swine flu (image attached).

Deirdre Nelson is interested in the human stories behind collections and objects. In No Bed of Roses and the sound piece Shift (in collaboration with Matt Hulse), she focuses on the Nantgarw China Works in South Wales, using the lowly 10% success rate of ceramics in the firing process to create an installation exploring the gulf between the luxury of the finished object and the poverty, disappointment and dogged perseverance involved in its production.

Artist l Object l Project has been organised in collaboration with Brecknock Museum & Gallery and the University of Glamorgan as part of Celf Cymru Gyfan – ArtShare Wales - Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales’ visual arts partnership programme which aims to increase access to the national art collection through innovative collaborative projects around Wales. ArtShare Wales is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

One of the project’s organisers, Dan Allen, said:

“The exhibition not only promises to be a rich visual experience, but will form a useful case study on how artists view, respond and regard collections. Each artist’s chosen object or objects will be exhibited alongside their own response.”

Artist l Object l Project is in conjunction with The Go Between, a major international conference focusing on the role of the artist as mediator between collections and audiences. For more info visit

Entry to Brecknock Museum & Gallery is free for the duration of the exhibition. For opening hours and further details please phone 01874 624121 or visit


Catherine Bertola

Blue Babylonica

2009, screen printed wallpaper

Commission for National Museum of Wales, Cardiff

Courtesy of the artist and Workplace Gallery