5th February 2019
To whom it may concern,
In support of Daniel’s application, Obscene beasts and corpses.
Danny has asked me to provide a letter of support which will champion his work and this project. I am happy to do so.
Danny and I first met in the early 90’s whilst being taught by Osi Rhys Osmond at Carmarthen college of Art. Osi’s passion for both Wales and the craft of art making has I believe left a lasting impression on both of us (and probably all who studied under him). Osi emphasised again and again the importance of colour and mark making over and above using ‘ideas’ alone to conjure art ‘tricks’. Such a message was a dogma for us young artists, how is art created free of ideas? Obviously his intention was to mould young minds, too teach the graft of good observation, of how to learn through drawing. And fore-mostly how being an artist requires long hard work. Those are values based on a sincere belief in dedication.
Osi’s teaching had side effects which I believe were just as important. He united us students in a kind of patriotism for Wales based on a love of the welsh countryside. That also encouraged in us a belief in collaboration on projects driven by purpose and cause. Perhaps this is why several of us chose to study and remain for some years in Liverpool, a city at the time much aligned with grass-roots community empowerment. And likewise why we chose to form collectives dedicated to ‘positive and creative social activism’.
Through those years we worked together and with others on many public art projects. Danny’s artwork throughout was defined by a quality of craftsmanship and an emphasis on a strong work ethic. During the last fifteen years we have both since returned to Wales. We live far apart, but I have followed his career with interest. We have had an occasional opportunity to collaborate on art projects, including on his recent R&D project, with me serving as his mentor.
In his recent work Danny has found a way to purpose his craft within an issues based subject-matter. To me his recent art work has a naïve quality which exhibits these issues in an intentionally obvious and somewhat clunky format. The works scale is impressive in itself and his methods are rewarding not least because in them I see his mental gears turning. I enjoy the way he has seemingly dealt with that old ‘ideas’ problem through incorporating this subject-matter as collaborators in his arts production. The end result is sculptures that work on several levels and which can be interpreted in many ways. To me that interpretation is rewarded further by knowing his reasons. Yet their value is to also invite an instinctive response regardless of further delving into whatever purpose exists.
For these reasons I champion this new project. I think this new proposal develops those early efforts into something more tangible and thought provoking. It seems like the right next step, a spring board perhaps to who know what.
I expect that this project will much strengthen the bond between his works purpose and its making. I think his use of the more literal figure shape compliments that greatly through the associations they suggest. I can see also how it makes sense how such forms are an intriguing way to formulate his aims.
As a colourist myself I also enjoy his proposal to use colour. This is something we both explored throughout the R&D project and through its discussion via the projects blogs. Colour remains a rarely used and feared medium on sculpture. Danny’s use of it here would contribute toward filling that gap and I reckon would add much to the sculpture’s expressive purpose. I like how his use of colour is inspired by the church’s venues, how their painted wooden objects and statues compliment that aim, how it continues with Osi’s legacy perhaps?
Danny’s chosen tour places seems to mirror his production method of merging source material in the making process. I can see how each place’s context will benefit the outcome at the gallery. Exhibiting in out of the way places is beneficial in other ways. I can see that the churches provide a site-specific backdrop for documenting the project. These images may have a lasting value greater than its tour. Similarly I imagine working within the eco-centre will benefit a context and reading, as well as an audience from that specific community.
To involve both of these establishments seems a fitting way to strengthen the projects aims. In my experience Danny often wants feedback to inform the work.
Through conversations with Danny I understand his reasons for exhibiting in such lesser known places. Galleries themselves are essential to a projects success and it is great that Aberystwyth Arts Centre are on board for the end show. Yet I also recognise the case that galleries can not, or will not provide enough opportunities for so called ’emerging’ artists. Seeking such alternatives is hard work, but a worthwhile opportunity to develop freely the work in its best light. These alternatives compliment and extend the potential success of the final exhibition.
In this proposal Danny is taking a pseudo religious and philosophical theme as a means for discussing contemporary issues. That idea seems at odds to me with the impersonal and institutionalised nature of church and ‘eco’ establishments.
Both have a seriousness and self importance which might in some way be challenged by aspects of these sculptures. However, a bit of controversy can be a useful way to draw people in to enjoy the work and to think about its themes. I believe this work will do so without being gratuitous. His proposal looks to have colourful and humorous qualities, which I enjoy and which I believe are a benefit to the language of arts in Wales.
Danny has a track record for making engaging, original, well-conceptualised and realized artworks. His keenness, enthusiasm, attention to detail and dedication is impressive and I have every confidence that this project will lead to great things. I am absolutely certain this will be a worthwhile phase for Danny and will lead to future exhibitions that Wales and the Arts Council can be proud of.