'His connection to land is demonstrated as cultivator – from seed to growth to food and meal as social gathering, a timeless act. He investigates landscape, and the details of landscape, including its history and myths, for explorations of culture within a contemporary context.' (Tim Davies)
Owen Griffiths is an artist working collaboratively with communities and fellow practitioners, most notably with long-term collaborator Fern Thomas. A graduate of Fine Art at Oxford Brookes University in 2005, Griffiths is based in South Wales, from where he works both locally and internationally. He is the founder member of a number of artists groups and networks; he also coordinates and curates projects and events. In 2011 he co-created Forever Academy with Thomas, a research and dialogue program working with artists designers and thinkers.
Griffiths is interested in all aspects and details of collaboration and contemporary cultural shifts as acts and antidotes to financial, social and environmental challenges. Griffiths has been exploring the sense of collaboration and documentation through installation and the event as an act. Concerned with environmental and social issues, his practice also explores the significance of food and cooking as a universal experience, creating a new participatory arena for work.
In 2011 he was commissioned by Adain Avion, Cultural Olympiad Wales, to develop a major work responding to the idea of working with the community, the city and the Olympics. The work has involved transforming a derelict, city centre football stadium into a vegetable garden. Vetch Veg is an interdisciplinary project, part sculpture, part centre, an eco system and resource. Unlocking unused land owned by local authority and earmarked for unimaginative development, Griffiths is interested in the notion of the artwork as the catalyst between government and society. Inviting the local authority to trust the public, inviting them to become active participants rather than witnesses in the changing landscape of their city. Vetch Veg will run for one year until September 2012, after which the community will run the project. Its function is multilayered, and its activities will encompass, film making, lectures, gigs, sculptures, discussion, and events.
Griffiths and collaborator Thomas have been working nationally and internationally on projects and residencies since 2005, working in Mexico with street cooking actions. In 2010 they created participatory project For the Bees, where they worked with a musician to create a piece of choral music for a choir of people to sing to two beehives in an act of concern working with, Cooperative, International year of Biodiversity and the National conference of Entomology. It was shortlisted for Amateur Scientist of the Year on BBC Radio 4. Most recently they have been working on Lets see what happens… with The Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea, curated by Karen MacKinnon. This project, supported by British Council, and is a dialogue between four artists based in Wales and two Chinese artists, centred around a series of conversations and exchanges between the two countries.
The notion of the artwork and artist negotiating, re-imagining and developing projects and resources as extensions of architecture, design and urban planning, together with site responsive, people responsive and collaborative acts are at the heart of his current work. They culminate in events and time based projects involving documentation, dialogue, consultation and legacy.
- 2011 Forever Acdemy, Forever Academy and Axis, Nomadic
- 2011 Vetch Veg, Cultural Olympiad Wales Adain Avion, Swansea
- 2010 For The Bees, Studio SAFLE, ACW, Taliesin Arts Center, The Cooprative, Swansea
- 2009 Alternative Dialogues - Recopy Exchange, Mission Gallery, Swansea
Qualifications and training
- 2005 BA Fine Art, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford
- 2008 Ground: Owen Griffiths & Kathryn Ashill, Curated by Tim Davies, Oriel Lliw, Pontardawe
- 2006 Festival / Gwyl, Mission Gallery, Swansea
- 2011 Golden Rod Adorned Log, g39, Cardiff
- 2011 FUTURA BOLD FUTURA OBLIQUE, The Nunnery, Bow Arts, London
- 2010 VEND, Elysium Gallery, http://opusartists.wordpress.com, Swansea
- 2010 What will be seen, Bay Art, Cardiff
- 2009 Y Lle Celf, National Eisteddfod of Wales, Bala, North Wales
- 2009 Opus : On drawing, Elysium Gallery, Swansea
- 2008 Identitades Y Memoria 04, Museo Del Stad, Morelia, Mexico
- 2008 Y Lle Celf, National Eisteddfod of Wales, Cardiff
- 2008 Obsessions, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford
- 2008 A Collection of Drawings, Mission Gallery, Swansea
- 2007 Catalyst, Mueseum of Modern Art Wales, Machynlleth
- 2005 Brookes Contemporary, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford
- 2009 Curatorial Internship for the inFOCUS Gallery, Curator - Ongoing, Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown, Powys
- 2008 ANNEXE (a Salon De Refuse), Framework Curates: a collection of work unselected by the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Tactile Bosch Gallery, Llandaff, Cardiff
- 2009 Zen Garden, National Theatre Wales, Cardiff
- 2007 Alternative Dialogues: Cultural Exchange Through Cooking - A Social Sculpture based initiatve working with Swansea Bay Asylum Group developing a three year project producing a cook book, Mission Gallery, Swansea
- 2010 FAO Artists in Ressidence, Aberystwyth Arts Center, Aberystwyth
- 2009 Celf Eden Ressidency, Plas Tan Y Bwlch, Maentwrog, North Wales
- 2008 Identitades Y Memoria, Identitades 04, Morelia, Mexico
- 2006 Artist in Residence for Fine Art Department, Swansea Metropolitan University, Swansea
- 2006 Art IG residency, Art IG, Hannover, Germany
- 2005 Artist in Residence, Mission Gallery, Swansea
- 2012 Artists Taking the Lead, Cultural Olympiad for Wales, Cultural Olympiad, Wales
- 2010 Let's See What Happens, Glynn Vivian Gallery, Wales and China
- 2010 For the Bees - a song of will for the bees, Off site project in public spaces in Swansea sponsered by Studio SAFLE, Swansea Community Fram, Clyne Botanical Gardens (sponsered by SAFLE)
- 2009 Research Trip to Xiamen, China, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Xiamen, China, Swansea, Wales.
Competitions, prizes and awards
- 2011 Judge, Welsh Artist of the Year 2011, Cardiff
- 2009 Welsh Artist of the Year 2009 'Winner of the Drawing Award', St Davids Hall, Cardiff
Web links - gallery/work/projects
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