Below is my 1000-word review for I.P 2
Blancedi Argyfwng Cymreig (Welsh Emergency Blankets)
CELF AR Y CYD AR DAITH
The piece I am reviewing is available and part of the exhibition CELF AR Y CYD AR DAITH (JOINT ART TOUR) currently on display in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales. The exhibition will be available and open to the public from Saturday 30th of April 2022 to Sunday 26th of June 2022.
The CELF AR Y CYD AR DAITH exhibition is part of a bigger collection containing one hundred pieces altogether. The selection of these Art objects happened in a very non-conventional way, where in the year 2020 during the covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, the National Museum of Wales asked people to vote on Instagram posts by clicking the like button. This process of public choice and popular demand helped the National Museum of Wales to shortlist and create this collection. Now the collection is on tour, around the different areas of Wales.
The Art piece Blancedi Argyfwng Cymreig (Welsh Emergency Blankets) was produced in 2019 by the Welsh artist, Daniel Trivedy and won the gold medal at the National Eisteddfod under the category of fine art, in 2019.
Artist’s statement “I am absolutely delighted and thrilled to win the Gold Medal. I feel that it validates my practice and that the decision to change my career ten years ago wasn’t wasted.”
This work revolves around the ideas of migration, refugee crisis and the human condition and is the result of intermingling similar, but opposite, materials and elements.
The blankets are made with metallised polyethylene terephthalate (MPET) material and are normally used in emergency situations where the human body needs urgent warmth and physical protection from the elements to stabilise body temperature and survive. Trivedy decided to use these MPET gold emergency blankets associated with first aid protection material as canvases. He hand printed, very skilfully, Welsh traditional designs and patterns on those gold emergency blankets. These patterns represent Welsh fabric and textile design history and heritage, part of a unique Welsh craft culture. These traditional Welsh designs and patterns are associated with homely warmth, childhood, memories, traditions, heritage, and comfort and usually appear on homeware like blankets, pillows and duvet covers.
On the other hand, the gold emergency blankets are the symbol of hope and safety when human body is in a tug of war between life and death but also associated with pain and suffering, elsewhere and ‘others’. The emergency blankets are very different than traditional Welsh blankets. They are standardized, mass-produced, thin and fragile, single use blankets. Gold emergency blankets do not have any patterns on them instead they have a reflective surface on each side so both elements in this piece carry a special value and different meanings. When you merge the material and the element together, they become something else and represent something else too.
Design, patterns, and materials hold an incredibly special place in our mind because when we face them, they speak to us without making any sound and we go through a journey of emotions, revisiting those moments in time when that material or shape was part of our life. This brief journey of emotions can make us happy or sad depending on the memories we have. Materials and designs speak to each other too, sometimes they sit well together, and sometimes they clash and contrast.
By looking at those gold emergency blankets in front of us our mind goes through an emotional experience of revisiting those memories of TV screen images where people are wrapped in those gold-coloured sheets shaking and shivering while laying or sitting on the ground. These memories are associated with pain and suffering of lived human experience and therefore makes us emotional but when we look at traditional Welsh wool tapestry, or carthenni they remind us of warmth, cosiness, home, and safety.
Combining gold emergency blanket element (Material and design) which talks to us about providing protection in tough times when the fate of life is uncertain with designs and patterns representing home and comfort draw attention through these artworks towards what is happening on the UK (United Kingdom) and EU (European Union) shores with refugees. These artworks respond to a proposal from the Welsh government to become the first Nation of sanctuary for (asylum seekers and refugees) people fleeing life threatening conditions like wars and persecution. The artist decided to represent the provision of warmth and comfort of home by replacing the emergency blanket with traditional Welsh wool tapestry or carthenni. The closeness of the elements hand printed patterns on gold emergency blankets symbolises the spirit of sharing the Welsh heritage with others. The piece also represents the joy and celebration of life through colourful patterns replacing the plane reflective surface of the emergency blanket. By putting together emergency blankets with Welsh traditional patterns it also speaks to a miraculous, psychological phenomenon of holding two opposing views at once, cognitive dissonance, and being in two places at once, bilocation, by reconciling the two identities of the Welsh citizen and the global citizen. The thin, single use gold foil sheet is seen around the globe as a lifesaving tool to tackle refugee emergency “elsewhere” and it found shelter under the Welsh heritage of traditional blancedi and so becoming seamlessly one “here”. Welsh emergency blankets capture the feel of the Welsh nation’s response towards the human condition with a heritage of rich tradition of providing sanctuary.
Artist Daniel Trivedy said “You’re not just saying, here is a blanket to keep you warm. You actually saying we are willing to share our culture with you and think about the wider world and what’s going on in it.”
This project Welsh Emergency Blankets connects well with my personal project WATAN dealing with the issue and raising awareness about refugees, homelessness, statelessness and feeling lost.
The Art Centre website. https://www.aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/ (Accessed on 13th May 2022)
Artist website. http://www.danieltrivedy.com/ (Accessed on 8th May 2022)
Open exhibition website. https://eisteddfod.wales/ (Accessed on 13th May 2022)
ITV. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p097qpmr (Accessed on 8th May 2022)