The Art of Poetry; an Artist and a Poet Have Joined Forces for a New Exhibition. Karen Price Finds out More about the Project from Iwan Bala and Menna Elfyn

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Art of Poetry; an Artist and a Poet Have Joined Forces for a New Exhibition. Karen Price Finds out More about the Project from Iwan Bala and Menna Elfyn


Byline: Iwan Bala ;Menna Elfyn

POETRY has been inspiring art - and vice versa - for centuries. Now two of Wales' biggest names from the visual arts and writing worlds are collaborating on a new exhibition with a difference.

Field-notes, which opens at a gallery in Carmarthen tomorrow before touring, takes maps as its starting point and many of the finished pieces are reminiscent of a writer's jotting book.

Iwan Bala National Eisteddfod Gold Medal-winner Iwan Bala and his colleague, the Western Mail columnist and award-winning poet Menna Elfyn, have spent the past year preparing for the exhibition.

The pair are both lecturers at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Carmarthen.

But with two very busy and different careers, it wasn't always easy to get together and work on the show. Menna Elfyn "I thought we would be able to work closely together but, as it happens, it was difficult to find the time to collaborate," admits Bala.

But the artist is now preparing to hang around 40 pieces - 25 of them large scale - at Oriel Myrddin ready for this weekend's opening.

So how did the collaboration come about? "Over the years I've worked with a lot of Welsh poets," says Bala. "Generally speaking, the work I produced included illustrations of what the poems were or there were poems explaining what my images were. But, this time round, I wanted to get deeper into the poetry, although not all of the work is based on poems."

Bala's new mixed media pieces not only focus on Elfyn's poetry but some have been devised from words, such as place names or names of people, who are important to the collaborators.

And while some of the paintings feature illustrations, many of them purely focus on the words.

"I've been painting a lot more words this time," says the Welsh Artist of the Year judge. "There are also fragments of Menna's poems. I've been trying to capture the process of writing poetry as much as anything else. The paintings have been made to look like field-notes (the title of the exhibition) so they look like pages from a notebook in a sense."

As well as being colleagues at the Carmarthen university, Bala and Elfyn have worked together in the past - but not incorporating her poetry. …

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The Art of Poetry; an Artist and a Poet Have Joined Forces for a New Exhibition. Karen Price Finds out More about the Project from Iwan Bala and Menna Elfyn
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