'I Felt I Was Being Disloyal' ENTERTAINMENT I Award-Winning Painter Shani Rhys James Has Two Major Exhibitions Opening in Aberystwyth - and One Sees Her Branching out with Installations. Karen Price Chats to Her about Moving in a New Direction

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), January 17, 2015 | Go to article overview

'I Felt I Was Being Disloyal' ENTERTAINMENT I Award-Winning Painter Shani Rhys James Has Two Major Exhibitions Opening in Aberystwyth - and One Sees Her Branching out with Installations. Karen Price Chats to Her about Moving in a New Direction


Byline: ARTS & CULTURE edited by Karen Price

HE may be a renowned painter with a clutch of awards to her name but for more than a decade, Shani Rhys James toyed with the idea of creating mechanical installations.

s. Now as she opens an exhibition featuring 3D sculptures she admits that she had been in two minds about branching out.

"I felt I was being disloyal to painting if I did something different," says the winner of the 2003 Jerwood Painting Prize. "I haven't abandoned painting at all - it's still my thing."

The display, Cassandra's Rant, at Aberystwyth's Ceredigion Museum is undeniably the work of the Powys-based artist.

In fact, it brings to life some of the subjects from her large-scale canvases for which she's become renowned, such as a baby's cot (domesticity) and a female Victorian figure (the female condition), which both feature mechanical devices.

Illustrations for the sculptures also feature and some of the items are displayed in front of her paintings . Rhys James focused on developing her automata collection after securing a Creative Wales Award from the Arts Council of Wales.

While some pieces have already been displayed as part of regular exhibitions, this is the first time they are featured together.

She started thinking about creating installations after seeing a show by Canadian artist Jana Sterbak in 1994.

"I just thought it looked like such fun to create installations," says the mother of two, whose work tackles feminist issues and domestic scenes.

"That stayed with me over the years but it took me until around 2005 to do it."

She collaborated with a number of people to produce her moving sculptures, which include a claw-like hand coming from a Victorian bodice.

"I'm not a mechanic but the pieces are my concept. I did all the drawings and worked with a mechanic and a student from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama on the costumes."

Rhys James' mother, Jeanie James, who was an actress, recorded the voices from characters she has played over the years which can be heard coming from some of the objects.

For the artist, it was the chance to indulge in her own love of theatre.

"There's a part of me that always wanted to work in the theatre," reveals the National Eisteddfod Gold Medal winner, who was awarded an MBE in 2006 for her services to art. …

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'I Felt I Was Being Disloyal' ENTERTAINMENT I Award-Winning Painter Shani Rhys James Has Two Major Exhibitions Opening in Aberystwyth - and One Sees Her Branching out with Installations. Karen Price Chats to Her about Moving in a New Direction
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