Oriel Makers, an Art and Craft Gallery in Wales - Celebrating 27 Years
An artist-run gallery in Wales
Oriel Makers is a bit different from most galleries - it is run by a community of artists and makers, who share all the management responsibilities. It was the first of it's kind in Cardiff and has become a local success story, celebrating it's 27th Anniversary this year. One of it's attractions is that visiting customers will be greeted by a different artist-maker each day.
The gallery opened in the summer of 1991 and continues to showcase quality contemporary art and fine crafts whilst also providing a bespoke service for customers, and selling a wide range of gifts, including glass, textiles, jewellery, wood, photographs, ceramics, paintings, prints and greetings cards.
Running the gallery
Oriel Makers represents the work of thirty or so artist-makers, many of them local, with a central team of six who each have specific responsibilities within the organisation. Meetings are held monthly to discuss finances, improvements, PR and general management as well as looking at work from new applicants and organising the rota for the next month. The gallery's running expenses are paid for out of commission on sales, with varying commission rates corresponding to the makers' level of involvement in management.
Oriel Makers operates like a cooperative - member artists are encouraged to play an active role by stewarding, giving them the opportunity to meet the public, network with other artists and gain experience in the administrative and day to day duties involved in running a gallery. All new work is scrutinised for quality and originality and existing work is reviewed to maintain a high standard of excellence. The meetings also provide an opportunity for the group to chat about their work and catch up with news.
Six of the artists:
Ruth Harries - Textiles
Ruth lives and works in Cardiff, having studied Textile Print at Cardiff College. She won the overall award for Welsh Artist of the Year in 2008 and has represented Wales at the Festival Interceltique de L'Orient in France. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including France, Holland, Sweden, the Netherlands, USA and Ireland, and has shown widely in group shows, including Pfaff ArtEmbroidery London, the National Eisteddfod of Wales, Welsh Contemporaries in London and in numerous exhibitions with the Fibre Art Wales Group.
There are figurative and abstract elements to Ruth's work, which represent emotionally charged atmospheres and recollections within the family. Aspects of her Welsh identity and the use of the Welsh language are also important.
She works intuitively and spontaneously, using machine stitch, achieving subtle variations in colour and tone in a free and expressive way, aiming to express the speed and gesture of a mark. The diverse qualities of mark-making produced by painting, writing and drawing are considered in stitch.
Ruth Shelley - Glass artist
Ruth specialises in contemporary glass design. Her works’ signature is the use of vivid, dramatic colour in fused and kiln-formed glass which includes panels, tiles, mirrors, bowls, coasters and jewellery. She also designs and produces more traditional leaded lights and has worked alongside architects on numerous restoration projects.
Much of her work is inspired by the dramatic shapes and forms of the mid Wales landscape where she grew up. Ruth is a member of the Makers Guild in Wales and the Society of Designer Craftsmen. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally and works from her studio in Cardiff.
Molly Curley - potter
Molly Curley trained at Cardiff College of Art, specialising in book illustration and teacher training then pursued a career in art education, finally taking early retirement in 1982, after sixteen years of teaching.
Since that time, having discovered the joy of working with clay, she has developed a new career as a potter. Over the last twenty years the scope of her work has developed; various clays are now used, all wheel-thrown to produce a range of domestic ware, mostly decorated with liquid clay (slip) and all fired in electric kilns. In addition there is a big demand for her commemorative ware (plates etc.) and house-plates, which are made to order in slip decorated earthenware.
Molly is a founder member of Oriel Makers, South Wales Potters, and a professional member of the Craft Potters Association. She has exhibited widely and works from her studio in Llanishen, Cardiff, where she lives.
Louise Young - Botanical art
Louise Young works in a medium which has been traditionally used for illuminated manuscripts and has been a favourite of Botanical painters for centuries. Her quiet paintings of flowers and found natural objects are painted in watercolour paint onto vellum. The vellum comes from one of the last remaining producers in the UK. The technique of painting on this surface demands very delicate brush strokes and very sparing use of water. The paint sits on the surface of the vellum which gives the colour its glowing intensity.
Louise sets up an arrangement of items in her studio and paints at life size directly from them. Most of the objects which form her subject matter have been gathered on walks in the countryside and on the beaches of Wales and other parts of Britain.
Helen Lush - Painter
Helen's paintings draw inspiration from the colour, texture and mood she finds in her subjects. Her Degree was in Textile Design and texture continues to be important in her work. Watercolours often start with a watery wash of paint and develop through the accidental flourishes this creates. Her paintings feature the beautiful landscapes of Wales, particularly the Pembrokeshire and South Wales coasts, the historic buildings of Cardiff, and her local park, Roath Park, with it's boating lake, bridges and resident ducks and geese.
Helen also takes great inspiration from all things botanical - wild flowers, trees and gardens - particularly her own small city garden. The botanical theme has continued with her gaining a Diploma in Garden Design, and forming the group "Roath Botanic Garden Artists" in 2010 with fellow artist, Louise Young.
A love of poetry and the written word has encouraged her to use calligraphy in many of her paintings, commissions and her bespoke Calligraphy Prints.
Alun Rees - Woodturner
Alun has been interested in working with wood since his school days when he first had the opportunity to use a lathe in woodworking classes. Years later he bought a small lathe and began turning as a hobby, making a wide variety of objects. Since then he has expanded and refined his skills and knowledge about wood-turning.
Using a VB36 lathe allows him to produce bowls and platters up to 36inchs in diameter, as well as a wide range of smaller items. A large part of Alun's inspiration comes from sourcing wood with burrs and pronounced grains which add to the individuality and character of the finished piece.
Finding Oriel Makers
Oriel Makers is situated in a leafy suburb of Cardiff, very close to Roath Park and the fashionable shopping area of Wellfield Road.
Oriel Makers has been represented at the National Eisteddfod, been involved in local arts events, and continues to play an important part in the promotion of local and national artists and makers.
In the UK in recent years the economic climate has made life difficult for many small businesses particularly those involved in the arts and hopefully this local success story provides inspiration to other artists and makers thinking of setting up their own enterprise!
Oriel Makers, 37 Pen-y-lan Road, Roath Park, Cardiff, CF24 3PG. Tel. +44(0)2920 472595. email firstname.lastname@example.org
A few of the artists at Oriel Makers
- Helen Lush - painter
Watercolour paintings of landscapes and botanical subjects
- Ruth Shelley - glass artist.
Contemporary glass artist, specialising in the use of kiln formed glass including panels, mirrors, bowls, coasters and jewellery.
- Ruth Harries - textile artist
The Art of Stitch
- Alison Graham - ceramics
Porcelain vessels, jewellery and wall pieces
Related articles by author
- Painting Pembrokeshire
Art in Wales - watercolours of the Pembrokeshire coast in West Wales, with poetry and writings inspired by happy times spent there.
- Watercolour paintings of Venice
Paintings of the canals and architecture of Venice, with information about materials used, methods and painting tips.
- Watercolour paintings of Staithes, an English Fishing Village.
Paintings of an English fishing village including watercolour painting tips and details of materials used. Staithes is a picturesque fishing village in Yorkshire – a beautiful place to visit and paint.
- Painting Composition
Tips and advice to help achieve successful paintings from photos and landscapes.
- Art in the Garden
How to use sculpture to best effect in the garden
- Artist on a Bicycle - Paintings of Sardinia.
How a cycling holiday inspired a series of watercolour landscape paintings.