Press Releases 2017

UWTSD Senior Lecturer wins Eisteddfod craft gold medal

05.08.2017

A Senior Lecturer at the Swansea College of Art, University of Wales Trinity Saint David has won the top craft prize at the National Eisteddfod of Wales today (August 5).

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West Wales artist Julia Griffiths Jones has been awarded the Gold Medal for Craft and Design for her ‘Room within a Room’ installation which included a ‘wire room’ containing a Welsh dresser, a bed from Slovakia, clothing and a table and chairs  Her recreation of a traditional cottage interior, made entirely of mild steel wire, brings together many years of journeys and artistic practice, inspired and influenced by textiles created by women alongside their domestic duties in Poland and Czechoslovakia as well as in Wales. 

In recent years staff from the University’s Swansea College of Art have had great success in this competition with Peter Finnemore winning the Gold Medal in 2005, Tim Davies in 2003 and Sue Williams in 2000.

Educated at Winchester School of Art and The Royal College of Art, as a student Julia won a travel bursary which took her to Slovakia to study folk art and culture.   And years later the idea for the award–winning installation took shape when she came across a reconstruction of a Welsh farmhouse kitchen at her local museum in Abergwili.  Julia Griffiths Jones said:

“It was a room that you could not enter, where the viewer could only imagine the intense activities of domestic life being carried out daily’ said Julia. ‘Having drawn and documented similar scenes in cottages in Eastern Europe, I wanted to bring imagery from these two cultures together using line drawing in steel as the connecting factor.

"Being Welsh, but inspired by folk art from Eastern Europe, has meant that my life and artistic practice has entwined ideas from a number of countries. This latest work, “Room within a Room”, is the culmination of my favourite drawings from many journeys, here made in wire, uniting the remembered and the present.”

Julia’s work aims to translate textile techniques such as embroidery, stitching and weaving into a wire and metal form, changing their original nature and function but retaining their meaning and decoration.

Julia added: “As with traditional houses I had seen in Slovakia, life in a Welsh cottage was also lived in one room. I started to draw this room in red and black pen, knowing that the colour red is important to both cultures. In Wales if you were sick you would hang a red flannel petticoat up at the window, farm doors are painted red to ward off evil spirits.

‘Red is the predominant colour in all tribal and peasant embroidery but it is used in two entirely different ways – to protect and to mark. In its protective role, red is most commonly deployed as a fabric appliqued on vulnerable areas such as seams, edges and over the chest.”

 

 

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Eisteddfod judge Jessica Hemmings said of the Gold Medal-winning installation:

“Julia Griffiths Jones has found a way to create drawings in the air… Her way of seeing is partially familiar – we recognise the shapes of domestic objects and decorative details – but they are transformed into structural marks and cast shadows. The result feels as though a little magic is at work.”

Eisteddfod Judge Carwyn Evans added:

“Julia's work is so fine as to be almost not there… Informed by drawing, the outlines relate directly to objects, shapes and forms that we can identify. We imaginatively feel the works thinness between finger and thumb: a want to touch, explore, inhabit.’

And third judge Ceri Jones commented:

“Julia's striking and evocative forms resonate on many levels. That this is a domestic tableau makes the notion of absence all the more poignant. Who will tend to the kettle or slip on the socks? The details are suggestive and the shadows allusive.”

In 2014 Julia was one of just three artists to be awarded a Creative Wales Ambassador Award, which allowed her to develop the Room within a Room project. The installation was exhibited at two open-air museums in Slovakia in 2015 and a solo exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre last year.

Note to Editor

1) Born in Bangor, North Wales, in 1954, Julia Griffiths Jones grew up in Aberaeron on the West Wales coast and now lives near Carmarthen.  

She has been the recipient of a number of Creative Wales Awards from the Arts Council of Wales, and British Council scholarships.

Her work has been exhibited in leading galleries in Britain and Europe, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Museum of the Romanian Peasant in Bucharest and she has been commissioned to produce work for the National Museum of Wales among others.  In recent years her exhibitions have included projects with The National Wool Museum, The Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and Stories in the Making, a touring exhibition to galleries in Scotland and Wales.

For most of her working life Julia has been involved in the teaching of art, and is currently Senior Lecturer on the Surface Pattern Design Course at The University of Wales Trinity Saint David/Swansea College of Art.

2) Julia Griffiths Jones is available for interview. She can be contacted at

01267 241339

07792 418059

3) For more information go to www.juliagriffithsjones.co.uk.

Twitter: jgj_julia

To view a video of Room within a Room type in: Drawing out the Collection, Julia Griffiths Jones you tube, and then click on the video on the right, Room within a Room 1.