- Professor of Fine Art
Slade School of Fine Art
University College London
Born in west Wales I studied painting and fine art media at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, completing my PhD at the Slade in 2000. While teaching I also studied for an MA in psychoanalytic theory at Middlesex University, graduating in1996.
As a visual artist, poet and theorist, I am fascinated by the relation between words and images, and my work is best described as cross-disciplinary.
My visual work includes drawing, photography, film, video and audio-visual installation, accompanied by written or spoken texts revolving around themes of place, subjectivity and identity. Early exhibitions include: About Time, ICA, 1982; Audio Arts, Tate Gallery, 1982; Showroom Gallery, 1988; Ffotogallery, Cardiff, 1990, 1992. My 16mm film Cylch yr Ynys, ACGB funded, 1992, is distributed by LUX.
This led to doctoral study on the relation between words and images within the act of self-reference, in particular the photomontages of surrealist Claude Cahun and the prose and poetry of author H.D. The theoretical framework, using the semiotics of the American philosopher C.S.Peirce to re-read Freud, has formed the basis of my continuing research, for which I received a Leverhulme Fellowship in 2003. My critical papers include ‘Peirce and the Image: the Work of Art and the Sign’, Università degli Studi di Urbino, 2007; ‘Bild, Imagismus und das Kunstwerk’, Kassel University Press, 2009; and ‘Open the Page’, Inside the View: Helen Sear. ed Drake, D. (Cardiff: Ffotogallery Wales, 2012); and ‘Peirce and the Image: Re-staging the Sign’, RS•SI Recherches sémiotiques / Semiotic Inquiry, 2015.
My first collection of poems, False Spring, Enitharmon Press, 2007, was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh prize for a first collection and anthologised in The Forward book of Poetry, 2008; Rome: A Collection of the Poetry of Place, 2008. I received a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2009 to work on a further collection, Gospel Oak, Enitharmon Press, 2013. An artist’s book of poetry and images, The Moon is Shining on my Mother, commissioned by the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, for the exhibition The Moon and a Smile, and published by Enitharmon Editions, 2017, is held in various public collections including the V&A, the British Library, National Library of Wales, LLGC and Stanford University. Readings of poems from these collections are available on The Archive of Now.
Performances of poetry with visuals and video include ‘For the Oak’, e-and-eye, Tate Modern, 2006; and Crazy Wisdom, King’s Place, London, 2009; PolyPly, 2010; Camden Arts Centre, 2013. Readings include Other Words. 3rd San Francisco International Poetry Festival, 2003; Starting at Zero, Kettle’s Yard Gallery, Cambridge, 2006; Poetry International, South Bank, 2014; a collaboration with Sampurna Chatterji, Gelynion – The Enemies Project: Wales, 2015; Multilingual World Literature, Swansea, 2017; Fast Forwards, Lefverhulme network, 2019.
The research on the relation between words and images is currently focussing on the concept of the ‘macaronic’ as the juxtaposition of languages and images within the framework of the same poem, or artwork, as a means of questioning translation. Essays that articulate this concept exemplified in The Moon is Shining on my Mother include a review of macaronic pamphlets, Poetry Wales, 2016, vol. 52, no.3; and ‘The Contemporary Macaronic in Wales' in Thinking Through Relation: Encounters in Creative Critical Writing', 2021.
With Prof. Clare Lees, director of the Institute of English Studies, SAS, University of London, and 5 Slade colleagues, I established MiCA (Medieval in Contemporary Art) bringing together artists, writers, medievalists, and curators to realise research into medieval artefacts as a resource for contemporary art and poetry.
Currently I am co-PI on the network Spineless Wonders with Institute of English Studies, SAS, UoL; Manchester School of Art, MMU; and dept. of English, University of Dundee https://www.ucl.ac.uk/slade/project/spineless-wonders. This project aims to promote research, teaching and public engagement with Small Press Collections in libraries and collections across the UK.
Appointed in 1995 to set up the BA in Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, I have worked on several programmes across the Slade and UCL, including UCL Film Studies and was Head of the Slade PhD programme from 2020-2022.
As Primary Supervisor I have supervised 17 doctoral students to completion and currently supervise 3.
In 2011 I was fortunate to be awarded a Provost’s teaching award.
The Moon and a Smile 2017 - Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, Wales, UK
A series of 12 artist books with 28 poems and 48 digital photographs also printed as 12 scrolls plus 6 still photographic digital prints. The work responds to the early 19th century photographer Mary Dilwyn Llewellyn
‘Yellow Oak’ and ‘I wanted Green’. 2013 - Rowing
‘Yellow Oak’ stone lithography print and ‘I wanted Green’, 16mm film installation.
The din of happiness 2013 - 16mm Film - Camden Arts Centre, London
Film-poem; engraved text on oak panel with 16mm film black and white loop projection commissioned by Lucy Reynold's work ANTHOLOGY.
I wanted Wood 2012 - Camden Arts Centre
Filmpoem: 16mm black and white film projection onto a sculptural object with a textual inscription from my book 'Gospel Oak'.
London's Burning, video of performance 2012 - Triangle Space, 16 Islip St. London, SW1 4JU
'Without Boats, Dreams dry Up'
Organised by Cape Farewell, ecological issues in the arts and sciences
In Touch no, 15 1995 - Cooltan Arts Centre
Photo-text work, black and white
In Touch no. 8 1995 - Cafe Gallery
Photo-text black and white
Changing Light installation 1995 - Wrexham Arts Centre
Changing Light 1994 - Smith Street Gallery, London
Set on the island of Skokholm off the coast of Pembrokeshire
'Everyday', and 'Away, Away' 1992 - MOMA Oxford; Leeds City Art Gallery
Circle the Island 1992 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre; Rhyl Arts Centre; Ffotogallery, Cardiff
Installation of 108 photographs
Yr Ynys: The Island 1990 - Ffotogallery, Cardiff
Installation of still photographs with sounds and spoken text, taking the theme of the islands of Pembrokeshire
The Sound Between 1989 - AVE Festival, Arnhem, NL;London Film Festival, London Filmmaker's Co-op
Video installation with sound based on the coastline of Pembrokeshire
Yellow Lemon in 'Green House: Yellow Lemon' 1989 - Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff; Spacex Arts Centre, Exeter; Chisenhale Gallery, London
Installation of still photographs, projections of stills, sound set on the island of Crete. A joint touring exhibition with Helen Sear.
The Moon is Shining on My Mother 1988 - Chapter Arts Centre
Photographs and sound installation addressing the shift in language from Welsh to English
Between Themselves 1988 - Showroom Gallery, London
Installation with images addressing power structures using Sissinghurst as metaphor.
Exhibition with Simon Biggs
Where is the Moment? 1987 - London Filmmaker's Co-op
Tape-slide sequence with spoken text
Institute of Measurement and Control 1985 - Spacex Arts Centre, Exeter; Plymouth Arts Centre
Photographs with sound work by Stuart Brisley
Food as Metaphor 1984 - Camerawork, London
Collaborative photographic installation work with Janet Anderson and Stuart Brisley
Seascape 1982 - Tate Gallery
Tape-slide taking driftwood turning as a metaphor for processes of history
Family Portrait 1981 - ICA, London; Third Eye Centre, Glasgow; Arnolfini Bristol; Franklin Furnace, New York
Tape-slide audio work with spoken text addressing issues of identity and subjectivity
We Thought we Could Walk on Water - South London Gallery
Still photograph with spoken text taken the frozen sea in Helsinki as metaphor