Originally from Bala, Angharad Pearce Jones has worked in steel for over 30 years and in her largest solo show to date, she reworks an installation originally constructed in her own home during lockdown.
Angharad’s huge installation places visitors on one side of the fence or another, by presenting them with a simple choice: whether to enter the gallery through the left or right doorway.
The work was developed in response to the artist’s perception of increasing divisions in society following the 2016 Brexit referendum and was originally constructed in her own home during lockdown, when she dissected the kitchen and dining room table with a palisade fence.
The Covid-19 pandemic brought new meaning to the piece, yet it is emblematic of any kind of divide or border and conjures up so many questions on the nature and impact of both personal and political choices.
Angharad has worked in steel for more than three decades, as a blacksmith, metal fabricator, installation artist and sculptor.
She understands its ability to divide, imprison or protect and for this installation she has built a dedicated space, quoting the aesthetics of the edge of town industrial estate, where visitors can stare back at one another through a three-metre-high security fence.
The table and chairs are no longer the original, wooden Ikea furniture of her home but sculptural constructions in solid, plate steel with perfectly laser-cut slots for the fence panels to glide through.
In the early stages of development, Angharad, who is bilingual, worked with sixth form students from two comprehensive schools in Aberystwyth.
Ysgol Penweddig, a Welsh-language medium school and Ysgol Penglais, a non-Welsh medium school, to explore some of the themes of the exhibition across a linguistic divide.
As a material, steel can also implode, twist, and distort and for the second part of this exhibition, Angharad presents immaculate reproductions of scenes of impact, that she has been documenting for over seven years.
Incidental artworks, painted in bright colours, and printed with beautiful aqua graphics, enticing us to look more closely at scenes of destruction.
Many of them are from places known to the artist, ferrying her three children around over the years; swimming lessons at Ystradgynlais, training at Pontardawe Town football Club or drop-offs at Swansea Central Station.
A more subtle example is simply a missing bar in a section of railing behind Brynaman Primary School, creating a gap that generations of local children have squeezed through when a parent calls, “Time to go home”. Having had to create perfectly straight railings for a living, Angharad has a keen eye for an imperfect one and regularly stops her vehicle, to photograph it from all angles, later to be duplicated in her workshop in Garnant, west Wales.
This exhibition is funded by an Arts Council of Wales Create Grant and the forthcoming publication is funded by the Henry Moore Foundation. A seminar will accompany the launch of the publication in late September along with guided tours, specialist tours for local disability groups and an education program for schools and colleges.
IMPACTARDRAWIAD: ANGHARAD PEARCE JONES is on at Aberystwyth Arts Centre until Sunday, 12 November