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Review: The Albany Gallery, Cardiff

(December 01, 2013)

The Albany Gallery, Cardiff
Christmas Exhibition 2013

Albany - Ancient and Modern, Garry Raymond-PereiraAncient and Modern, Garry Raymond-Pereira
oil on panel - 60 x 60 cm

We are blessed in Wales with some wonderful public collections and non-commercial ventures showing contemporary art. Art has been considered an essential part of our regeneration schemes, generating a variety of public works and the graffiti scene shows a grass roots creative enthusiasm.

Buying art is not a mainstream activity, so most of us avoid visiting commercial galleries. However we live in a time when you can view a piece at the National Museum and see the same artist’s work for sale within walking distance. If you brave the perceived barriers to entry - of not being a serious collector or having a fortune to spend - visiting commercial spaces allows you to see current works by living artists, enriching the knowledge and enjoyment available by visiting other spaces.

To get started, try your local gallery. and the accompanying ‘GALLERIES’ pocket magazine lists a few, showing them on separate pages for Cardiff and for the 'rest of Wales'. One excellent way in, is to visit a seasonal exhibition. These usually offer a mixture of artists' work so you will always find something that appeals and you won't be stuck feeling you have to be polite about work that just isn't to your taste.

The Albany Gallery, in Albany Road, Cardiff, is close to where I live, and I have been visiting irregularly for many years. Milkwood (soon to re-open as M.A.D.E) and Sho Galleries are in walking distance, as well as the Gate arts centre. They each have different exhibition policies, so if you have the time, it's worth visiting them all and find what appeals to you.

The Albany gallery is above an Italian restaurant, over two well-lit floors (don't forget to ring the bell for entry), with space on the stairs used like a miniature version of the RA's summer exhibition.

On my visit to their Christmas exhibition (which runs to 31st December 2013) I climbed the stairs, taking in whimsical pictures of poultry and still lifes, arriving into a square, well-filled space. Its centrepiece is a Kyffin Williams oil - a vast, dark picture of a moonlit seascape - out of most people's price range, it must be said, but still a thrill to consider the possibility. Alongside this pricey number were some beautifully-executed, realistic paintings by an artist they have only recently been showing; Garry Raymond-Pereira. They are impressive and charming, and likely to prove popular.

Up On Cloud Nine, Garry Raymond-PereiraUp On Cloud Nine, Garry Raymond-Pereira
oil on Welsh slate 40 x 70 cm

The variety of work at the Albany includes: views of Venice; abstracts; nature studies; whimsical pictures of poultry; ceramics; bronzes; jewellery; and landscapes and townscapes of Wales, by some of the best practitioners around.

Living with art is a personal matter and this is well respected by the gallery. They will keep tabs on what you buy and be happy to be led by your desires and changing needs. They also frame works to the artist's specifications and it was here I was staggered by their demonstration of museum glass versus standard, reflections minimised to the point that it was invisible. They offer advice on care and on how to light your purchase to the best advantage, in a friendly helpful way.

Ceri Auckland Davies is one of Wales' few exponents of egg tempera painting. Ceri composes his paintings in a modern way, creating high levels of realism and yet the framing of his views are unlike traditional sea or landscapes. They often have the feel at first glance of a zoomed-in photograph, but when examining them at close range the feeling is more of being in scale with the view, as if you were in situ. This makes them powerful and compelling, as if you have been transported to the place depicted. Which, for many people who know Wales well, will also allow them to recall the last time they were at that very spot

I was discussing a work by Ceri Auckland Davies on the upper gallery with a friendly and knowledgeable member of staff. I have seen his work many times but at such close range, the lines of this Cliffside view seemed heavier than usual. I was joined in the debate by other customers, one of whom let me know that Ceri uses anything to make a line - from feathers to sticks. I began imagining the artist working away at these sublimely skilled and uniquely composed views. The assistant said that, as they had sold one of the pieces submitted for the exhibition already, he had popped in with another that morning. Then, like children seeing what Santa had brought, we eagerly watched as his latest work was unwrapped with care and white gloves. Another point of knowledge I gained here: if you are to wrap a painting in bubble wrap, do this bubble out as in storage this can leave a mark.

Calm Waters (Porthllysgu Bay), Ceri Auckland DaviesCalm Waters (Porthllysgu Bay), Ceri Auckland Davies
egg tempera – 16 x 32 in

The work did not disappoint. A dark twilight scene of a landscape with a hint of a church on the west of the horizon. Unlike any of his work I had seen before, I have only viewed his sunny seashores until now, so in every sense this was a revelation. Just goes to show that by visiting regularly, you will be sure to gain more knowledge, maybe insights into an artist's development, and have an enjoyable time.

Exhibition runs until 31 December

Jennifer Pearce, December 2013

Jennifer Pearce is the founder of Art Club and can be followed on Twitter

The Albany Gallery
74b Albany Road,
CF24 3RS

Telephone +44 (0) 29 2048 7158
opening times - 11:00 - 17:00 Monday to Saturday,  11:00 - 16:00 Sundays and Bank Holidays

If you liked this, you'll also enjoy:
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     Review: Arcadecardiff, June 2013

     Review: St David’s Hall exhibition space - Triad and Mount Analogue, January 2013
Review: St David’s Hall Christmas Exhibition, January 2013
     Taming the Drew? Graffiti as art,
September 2012
     Review: Nothing Like Something Happens Anywhere - Chapter Arts Centre, Canton, Cardiff, August 2012
     National Museum of Art, contemporary galleries, March 2012


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