Artist launches new exhibition

By Julie McNicholls Vale   |   Deputy news editor   |
Saturday 6th August 2022 7:30 am
@JulieCambrian
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Russ Chester, who is pictured inset, paints scenes rooted in his experiences in Wales
Russ Chester, who is pictured inset, paints scenes rooted in his experiences in Wales (Russ Chester )

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Tremadog artist Russ Chester is getting ready to launched a new exhibition at Oriel Môn on Anglesey this week.

This will be his second solo exhibition. The first, at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw earlier this year was very successful.

Working on a three-year-long project which found him painting nearly every single day, Russ decided to put that exhibition and the one on Anglesey under the same working title ‘Y daith yn fy nghalon’ – ‘the journey in my heart’ – which is also the title of his new book.

“Art has been a journey which has lasted all my life, but which took on a new importance when I moved to Wales as a teenager in the late 1970s,” said Russ.

“Since that move, I have worked mainly outdoors, initially on local farms then eventually further afield around Gwynedd and Anglesey; firstly doing dry stone walling before turning to tree surgery and powerline clearance. So what’s this got to do with art?

“I am aware of the complex patterns hidden in my surroundings and have been lucky enough to see parts of Wales not many people have access to; the far corners of fields, lost little lanes, into farmyards and into people’s lives. I know the cold, I know drenching rain, I know summer heat, I know weather, I know the seasons, I know the light, I know the trees, I know what stone looks and feels like, I know the countryside, and the lie of the land.

“‘The journey in my heart’ project is a culmination of my experiences presented in paintings that explore the light, textures, mood and colours I have encountered along the way.”

In his first exhibition Russ sold 70 per cent of the 31 paintings on show, and managed to pick up additional commissions.

“With the current economic climate, energy and fuel hikes and a war in Europe, I really thought I wouldn’t sell quite as much as I did, so I was totally made up to have attracted so much interest,” he said.

Russ has had a further six paintings accepted for the venue’s Summer Show, which can be seen until 2 October.

The Glyn-y-Weddw show focused on the scenery of Gwynedd and Pen Llŷn. The next one in Oriel Môn is a completely separate collection of paintings and is an enormous undertaking with 69 paintings going to fill this impressive gallery space; and while it still depicts Gwynedd and Pen Llŷn, it also visits the scenery of Anglesey and other parts of Wales.

With his next exhibition just days away, and the same circumstances still in the news, but now with the addition of political turmoil, how does Russ feel about it?

“The situation is again very worrying, but I’ve come to believe that people still want to have nice things around them. This is a huge exhibition for me and quite a stressful situation, I’m really hoping that the paintings I’m taking to Oriel Môn will give people a chance to relax in a beautiful gallery and reflect upon something else for a change. I’m also hoping that the exhibition does particularly well for Oriel Môn as it has a special place in my heart.”

Nicola Gibson, visitor experience manager at Oriel Môn said: “We are so thrilled to finally be able to show Russ’s work here. We have had to delay his exhibition twice due to the lockdowns, but the wait has definitely been worth it. Russ has created a spectacular body of work specifically for Oriel Môn. I can guarantee that all our visitors will be astounded by these stunning landscapes of Wales”.

Russ’s work can be viewed at the Oriel Môn Gallery, Llangefni, Anglesey, from this Saturday, 6 August, until 18 September.

The exhibition is interactive and all painting labels have a QR code to scan for maps, photos and other information about the areas which inspired his work. The paintings can also be viewed in an on-line exhibition at www.orielmon.org

Oriel Môn is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm and admission is free.

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