Lois Williams is a contemporary welsh artist, and one that I only discovered last year. Her work is very…peculiar, it often puts more emphasis on the actual materials used rather than the conceptual side of it, and this is a rather refreshing outlook on the idea of contemporary art, but seems distinctively welsh because of it. Her choices of materials are at one with place and also come to possess an affinity with one another, which she recognises. She conspires to compound this, as her works metamorphose through time.I have actually seen some of her work throughout my years of exploring the art scene within Wales, and it evokes a strange sense of modesty to it; it is not there to catch attention, nor is it there to disgust or repel; it is humble, and creates a sense of whimsicality, which is beautiful.
“The Black Garden”, 1984
There’s something about Williams’ work that directly references my own interests in the destruction and abstraction of shapes and forms within my own life, and the use of wool and man-made objects within this piece really flips a switch within me. There’s something so beautiful about how the piece is formed; hinting at suppression of nature and the pain caused by humanity on natural ecosystems, as well as the rather obvious welsh connotations of the Sheep and wool. Quite possibly my favourite aspect of Williams’ work is the fact that she commonly utilises these welsh motifs, and therefore I can relate to the piece far more than many contemporary artists who are from another place.
‘Untitled’ Installation piece
Another fascinating piece by Williams’, this one references the thick woollen blankets crafted and passed down through the generations by Welsh women, which were used to provide warmth and comfort when the winters were bitter, as well as providing the young women with something to preoccupy themselves as the males of the family would work down the mines. The inclusion of the mechanical loom seems to reference the growing industrialisation of the mining trade, and the loss of jobs that was suffered by the industrialised, vile conservative ways, as well as the loss of these ancient and traditional techniques, which have been forgotten and neglected. This could also be shown through the limp hanging of the blankets, which are frayed and un-hemmed, crafting a bedraggled, pitiful display above the old, out of order machine.
There is something very comforting about this body of work, as well as having a great deal of coordination and affinity between the pieces shown, the use of wool, and braided wool at that, is really something to behold. Once again it references the use of wool as a precious material within our own culture, and the relationship between providing comfort and warmth for welsh people throughout the ages, as well as it’s use as a currency and trading good. Once again it reminds us of the use of knitting and handing down of clothes and keepsakes, and provides an insight into the rugged and sustainable mentality of the Welsh. Oddly, they seem to resemble shells, which creates an odd juxtaposition of earth and sea, but this is what Wales is known for; especially the connection between the Coal within the ground, and the importance of it’s travelling through the dock and over the sea, providing the Country with it’s livelihood.