Visual Arts: Capturing Charmed but Doomed Coastline; through Her Paintings, Shirley Anne Owen Asks People to Consider the Impact of Global Warming on Wales. We Find out More about Her Latest Exhibition, Shifting Shores

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), October 10, 2008 | Go to article overview

Visual Arts: Capturing Charmed but Doomed Coastline; through Her Paintings, Shirley Anne Owen Asks People to Consider the Impact of Global Warming on Wales. We Find out More about Her Latest Exhibition, Shifting Shores


Byline: Shirley Anne

SHIRLEY Anne Owen's paintings and drawings reveal the beauty and wildness of the Welsh coast, captured in the deep of winter.

Her new show, featuring more than 40 paintings and 60 drawings, is a tour de force for the artist, whose long love affair with the environment prompted the project.

It brings into focus the consequences of rising water levels on the coastline and raises long held cultural memories of the advance of the sea.

Inundation of the land has been a recurrent motif in the Celtic mythology and this is linked by the artist in her observations of threatened sites - from the Gower to Ceredigion.

The work was completed earlier this year following publication of the National Trust report, Shifting Shores, a paper dealing with the devastating effects of climate change that are accelerating erosion and flooding. It calls for an immediate action plan.

Owen, who since 2003 had been involved in a number of exhibitions focusing on aspects of the Welsh coastline, felt great personal concern on reading this report, and that became the genesis of her project to chart the lands at risk.

In total, about 143 miles is under the care of the National Trust - a sixth of the entire Welsh coastline, much of it considered of "international renown" and it is estimated that over the next 100 years, three quarters of this will be severely affected.

Iwan Huws, National Trust director for Wales, says sea-level rises and more frequent storms appear inevitable, even in the next few years. His impassioned plea, to raise awareness of the issue is well served by Owen's forceful set of images as she unfolds the impressive collection of charmed but perhaps doomed landscapes she encountered on her own voyage around the shoreline.

In the '60s the artist attended Cardiff Art College, studied graphic design at Newport and worked as a medical artist and photographer before settling into family life. In 1997 she opted to become a full-time artist and since has been extremely productive, exhibiting widely and accumulating a number of accolades.

In Shifting Shores she displays a maturity of style compatible with her interest in memory, myth and poetry.

The artist's impressionistic style suits this record of eerie and often majestic sites where there is little tonally between the swirling sea, the leaden skies and landforms, fragile with their bleached colour and occasionally highlighted by the red bracken.

In Dinas Dinlle we see beyond the flood defences, the atmosphere grey and showing an inclement day uplifted by a cleverly composed slice of sunlight dividing the canvas. …

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Visual Arts: Capturing Charmed but Doomed Coastline; through Her Paintings, Shirley Anne Owen Asks People to Consider the Impact of Global Warming on Wales. We Find out More about Her Latest Exhibition, Shifting Shores
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