Open Frequency 2010: Alistair Owen selected by Gordon Dalton

Open Frequency 2010: Alistair Owen selected by Gordon Dalton Alistair Owen, Bird, 2009. Photocopy print

Artist and writer Gordon Dalton profiles the work of Alistair Owen, a recent graduate of Cardiff School of Art and Design

You walk into an empty room: four walls, one window and the door you just came in through. There is no furniture, or anything at all to speak of. If you haven’t walked straight back out, you will probably walk to the window to see if there was anything instantly interesting to gaze at. You might take refuge in one of the corners like little Jack Horner, a place for reflection.

Alistair Owen would probably take the time to sit in each corner to see what it felt like. He’d notice scuff marks on the floor, dirty fingerprints on the light switch, blu-tak on the magnolia walls. He’d probably notice the silhouette of a seagull flying outside. He probably acts in a similar way in any room he is in. He will have a fondness for corridors, with their stacked chairs and discarded Kwix coffee cups. I dare say he loves train station waiting rooms, all expired stamped tickets and yesterday’s copy of The Sun. He’ll like the promise of a future destination but also the sadness of somewhere left-behind. A hospital waiting room would have a similar fascination for him, what with the apprehension, sadness and joy that they bring in the form of discarded kids' toys, a left behind cardigan, a sleeping relative.

He will have a favourite seat in a pub where he can observe small interactions. I wonder if he gambles, or just takes pleasure in the day to day activity of the bookies. All those small one-to-one spaces such as dirty jeans on plastic green seats, all in a line but meant for privacy; the coin going into the slot machine; the small blue pen plucked from a Perspex box, a scribbled bet given through a hole in the counter with the slightest of eye contact.

Out on the street Owen is the person staring through your lace curtains. I wouldn’t be surprised if he follows the postman on his rounds. He’ll stare two seconds too long at the homeless man and his dirty wet blankets and collected ephemera. He probably counts the gaps in their teeth. Buying his vegetables for the week, he’ll overhear a conversation about the weather and someone’s next door neighbour. He’ll admire the rough print on the orange boxes and the way just one of the bananas he’s bought hangs over his canvas shopping bag. Owen will be slightly envious when he turns the corner and sees the bundled piles of flattened cardboard, casually tossed out into the delivery yard of a supermarket.

Alistair Owen probably plays a lot of video games in dark rooms. He likes being inside them, likes how one pixel sits next to another, building a new environment. If Alistair Owen does go on holiday, he probably prefers the journey rather than the destination. His holiday snaps are probably just interiors of his hotel room. If he’s feeling particularly creative, he’ll throw all the sun loungers in the pool and wait and see what happens.

Gordon Dalton, May 2010

Artist's biography

Alistair Owen graduated in 2009 with a first class Fine Art degree from Cardiff School of Art and Design. In the same year received the Graduate Award from Safle, a public art consultancy in Cardiff, and had a residency at tactileBOSCH, Cardiff (Building Up-Not Tearing Down).

Selected group exhibitions include the selection of 'And' (2010) for ZooManifesta, Fresia gardens in Corso Giovanni XIII, Italy; Plan B Open Studio, Cardiff (both 2010); Building Up-Not Tearing Down, tactileBOSCH in collaboration with g39, Cardiff; Drawn In, Drawn Out, Drawn Round, g39, Cardiff; Some people deserve everything they get, The Royal Standard, Liverpool; For Real, Spike island, Bristol; Sculpture Studio Chapter, Cardiff (all 2009).

During 2010 Owen will have solo exhibitions at Muse Gallery, London (September) and Safle, Cardiff (October) and in March 2011 will have a solo show at g39, Cardiff. Owen lives and works in Cardiff. 

About Gordon Dalton

Gordon Dalton is an artist, curator and writer based in Cardiff. Recent shows include exhibitions at Bank Art, Los Angeles; Galerie Skuc, Lubjiana and Keith Talent Gallery, London. Curated projects include public art works such as Olaf Breuning for Bristol City Council and Marjeta Potrc for Safle, Cardiff.

Dalton is Learning & Interpretation Manager for Glyn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea and the co-director of Mermaid & Monster - a contemporary art agency based in Cardiff. He is currently writing his debut novel - The Art of Lying and Dying.

Open Frequency keeps you in touch with new developments in contemporary art practice from across the UK. The artists are selected and profiled by leading curators, artists and writers, presenting the work of artists to watch out for over the coming year. Open Frequency represents a forward-looking glance today of the artists who will be setting the agenda tomorrow.