Artists in Residence host digital exhibition


Two Welsh-medium Artists in Residence at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David have launched a digital exhibition to celebrate their year-long tenure at the University.

Owain Roberts & Jess Burtonshaw

Owain Roberts a Jess Burtonhsaw.

Working within the University’s Swansea College of Art, Jess Burtonshaw and Owain Roberts have spent the last year supporting students, encouraging them to engage more with the Welsh language and inspiring them to work and discuss their output bilingually.

In partnership with the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, the two Welsh-medium Artist in Residence roles at Swansea College of Art were created two years ago to support current students as well as help recruit new students to study Art through the medium of Welsh.

In their latest exhibition, Bwlch / Deuoliaeth (which translates to Gap / Dualism), Jess and Owain have used the opportunity to respond to their time working within the College of Art whilst also considering their work in the context of Covid-19 and lockdown.

After studying an Art Foundation course at Swansea College of Art, Jess Burtonshaw went to Bath to study Fine Art but moved back to Swansea to take on this role.

"I remember the day before the University closed .... Owain and I were helping to take down an exhibition in the Dynevor building," says Jess. “Before lockdown, our usual day at work would be packed but after the announcement, things calmed down - we were less busy because we didn't have Open Days to work on and I couldn't visit with students in their studios.

“A week before Easter, we were planning our end-of-year exhibition, and because of lockdown, we had to think about how we would translate our work into an online exhibition,” adds Jess.

“At first, it was challenging because it was so unfamiliar and we didn't know how to create an online exhibition. But, after some experimentation, we became more familiar with how to curate our exhibition using the platform. Overall, I enjoyed the experience of creating an online exhibition and I also learned new skills. Also, creating an online exhibition allowed my friends and family across the UK to see my work.

“We decided to name our exhibition Bwlch/ Deuoliaeth, with ‘Bwlch’ or Gap representing my half of the exhibition. But what is that gap? Everyone is having a gap period in their lives. The gap represents the linguistic gap, the gap in moving back to Wales having lived in England for three years, and the gap between Swansea changing as a city,” continues Jess. "The word appears in the work and is represented through a series of prints, sculpture and photographs."

Bwlch / Deuoliaeth poster

Prior to taking on this role, Owain Roberts - originally from Llanfairfechan in North Wales - was a Welsh-medium student on Swansea College of Art's BA Music Technology course and graduated last Summer.

During his period at UWTSD, he worked on writing an album using many instruments and singing in a rock and hard rock style incorporating other genres, mostly through the medium of Welsh.

But what was it like to curate a digital exhibition?

“Creating the online exhibition was a new experience for me,” says Owain. “I'm used to using similar software so it was an interesting process to compare. Using Zoom to launch the exhibition was very easy and I feel the launch went smoothly, and Jessica and I had extremely positive feedback. I’ve really enjoyed my time working as an Artist in Residence and have gained numerous valuable and varied experiences, which has helped me work out what kind of career I want to pursue,” continues Owain.

“The work on display as part of this exhibition is personal to me because it can be seen as a capsule of my time and mindset through lockdown - and having a creative outlet has been really useful for me during a time where I can't do my usual hobbies outside recording music,” adds Owain. "I hope to be able to work as a sound technician in the future having had the experience of working after graduation and I now look forward to the challenge once things get back to normal."

During their time as Artists in Residence, Jess and Owain have also been organising a wide range of Welsh language social events as well as assisting with external events including running workshops at Yr Egin in Carmarthen and working on the Josef Herman Foundation Schools project.

Gwenllian Beynon, Welsh Language Co-ordinator at Swansea College of Art has worked with Owain and Jess during their residencies, mentoring, developing and offering them a range of creative experiences.

"The role of Welsh-medium artists in residence is crucial to the success of Welsh-medium education developments at Swansea College of Art within UWTSD," says Gwenllian Beynon.

“Jess and Owain have brought a wide variety of creativity to their jobs and it's great to see the culmination of their creative work in this digital exhibition. I wish them both well as they move into the next stage of their career and I would also like to thank them for their hard work and enthusiasm over the past year.”

Swansea College of Art's Welsh medium provision within the University has grown significantly in recent years and a growing number of students within Swansea College of Art - from Foundation student to those studying for PhDs – now study part of their degree course through the medium of Welsh with at least 40 credits available through the medium of Welsh on most courses.

For further information about Swansea College of Art's Welsh medium provision, please contact Gwenllian Beynon.

More information about the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol branch within the University of Wales Trinity Saint David can be found on our website.

Further Information

For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies, Principal Communications and PR Officer on 01267 676908 / 07449 998476