Cynon Valley Museum and Gallery work hard, in their modern guise of a trust, to maintain Aberdare’s reputation for culture. One of the Valleys’ artist activists, Dr Gayle Rogers, has a solo exhibition there until July 8th 2017. Anyone who loves the valleys’ wild landscapes will feel an echo with her work if they visit – it’s free.
I went on Saturday, when Gayle was there all day with a stream of visitors. She has called her show “The Parochial Artist”.
She explains that a politician sent her an email with the sentence “Parochialism is the death of humanity”: her work does capture the local but in an honest and positive way and is not narrow in scope. For example, far from death, the new life of renewables (at Pen y Cymoedd) emerges in the mist.
The same views – Afan valley, Mardy, Rhigos – are revisited in different seasons or (of course in Wales) in different volumes of rain from mist to downpour.
The works, mostly in pastels, charcoal and watercolour, are plein air or done in the field rather than in a studio. There are photos of the artist at work.
There are also monotype prints.
Gayle’s activist and feminist wit is also represented, as well as a nod to her well-known brightly coloured prints and mugs. The mugs which members of the Workers Gallery in Ynishir receive each year are limited editions to make a set over 4 years.
Cynon Valley Museum and Gallery has a freindly welcome, and plenty of local craft gifts and cards (always a good thing to buy).
They seem very accommodating of local art, and actively support equality. There are also books and a cafe.
The gallery, like the ones in the Muni in Pontypridd and Rhondda Heritage Park, faced closure from austerity forced on Welsh councils. People like Gayle petitioned and organised to keep them open. There’s a story to be told, and a big change to these formerly public assets. How sad that councils see public assets, like museums and open spaces, as troublesome costs. They may come to regret that but too late.