Artist and writer Iwan Bala has a multi-disciplinary approach to his practice, involving wall hung painting and drawing, assemblages and site-specific three dimensional work. He is a founder member of The Artists’ Project, a member of the Beca group and has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad and participated in several international site-specific art events. He has published numerous books, articles and essays on contemporary art in Wales, as well as presenting and researching television programmes, lecturing, and managing public art projects and organising and curating exhibitions. He is now senior Lecturer at the School of Creative Arts and Humanities, Trinity College, Carmarthen.
Group Exhibitions include 'A Propos Ceri Richards' at the National Museum and Gallery of Wales, curated by Mike Tooby (2003-04); Welsh Painting for the 21st Century at the Mall Galleries, London: 'Wales; Unofficial Version' at the House of Croatian Artists, Zagreb curated by Alex Farquarson; 'Myth and Modernity', Welsh painting exhibited in Hong Kong; 'Strata', site-specific work, Strata Florida, Wales and Kells, Ireland (2006) curated by Dr Anne Price-Owen.
Works are held in many public and private collections including the National Museum and Gallery of Wales (Derek Williams Trust), the Contemporary Art Society for Wales, Newport Museum and Art Gallery, Brecknock Museum, Y Tabernacl (Museum of Modern Art, Wales) A Fundacion Casa Museo "A Solaina" de Pilono, Galicia, Spain, The University of Glamorgan and The National Library of Wales. He won the Gold Medal for Fine Art at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1997.
Publications include 'Certain Welsh Artists', (ed) Seren (1999) and 'here+now' Seren (2005), 'Groundbreaking. The Artist in the Changing Landscape' (ed) Seren (2005) and 'Hon, Ynys y Galon' Gomer (2007).
Cario Cewri Gweigion/ Supporting Hollow Giants (Los Gigantes)
In pamplona in northern Spain, I witnessed a procession of giant figurines, with the heads of kings and queens. These papier mache figures, called ‘Los Gigantes’ are an important feature of festivals in Spain. I saw them again in Barcelona in 2007. The figurines, sometimes 6 or 7 metres tall, aqre carried by one person, strapped into it and walking. It made me wonder about the figureheads of government and celebrity, how the ordinary citizen is always ‘carrying’ these rich, famous and powerfull on their backs. It also makes us realise that inside every powerfull, ‘big’ figure, a little person is doing all the work.
Calon y Goedwig/Heart of the Forest
The forest symbolises nature, growth, protection, and there are grave fears about the survival of our forests. The heart of the forest is beating still, and there is hope of regrowth, but it is fragile.
There is a saying, ‘we are all in the same boat’, meaning that our lives are affected by the same things wherever we are. I see the baot as symbolic of our journey through life, and the twin faced Janus signifies how important it is to look backwards (at the past) as we also look forward (to the future). The past holds lessons we must never forget, and connects us with our ‘roots’.
One of a series of works that depict the outline map of Wales as a leaping woman. In the past, Wales was thought of as an old lady, but now that we are re-inventing ourselves, it is time to think of a more independent and free spirited young woman, leaping confidently into the world.
Ianws – Elegguá
Ianws (Janus) is the Romano-Celtic deity that gave its name to the month January. It signifies the coming together of past, present and future. Ellegua is a Carribbean Santeria deity.. a guardian of the crossroads that I learnt about from a visit to Cuba. Here, both are syncronised into an icon that again emphasises the importance of remembering the past, our heritage, as we make that leap into the future. If we forget our past, we may well lose our identity.
Wele Rith/Behold, a Wraith
This image is a combination of an island (shaped like Wales) on the horizon, but also a submerged heart. It could also be seen as a mask. It signifies the hidden depth of culture, and how a superficial gaze only reveals a surface, or only sees the mask that is put on as a disguise. What we see is an illusion, a wraith. The true essence of a place (of a people) can only be revealed with time and patience.