Helen has been a director and member artist of Oriel Makers since 1992
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 29th 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 forty or so artist-makers, many of them local, with a central team of eight 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.
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 paints in watercolour, enjoying the accidental marks created by the paint's flow and expanding on these with pencil and other media. Her inspiration comes from the beautiful coastlines and villages of Pembrokeshire, North Yorkshire and South Wales, and trips abroad, particularly to Italy. A love of gardens and all things botanical started as a child, visiting the many gardens around County Durham.
In the last few years Helen started making a new collection of one off original prints using plant materials from her garden in Cardiff. The fragile nature of the flowers and leaves means that each print is completely unique. Some of these prints are built up slowly into collages combining them with grey-scale prints of her watercolour paintings.
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 email@example.com
Helen Lush (author) from Cardiff, Wales, UK on May 30, 2013:
Good - I hope you will come and visit us in the gallery. Wellfield road, round the corner is brimming with cafes and nice shops and we have the park and a fab new ice cream parlour nearby!
Krys W from Abertawe, Cymru on May 30, 2013:
I will have to investigate! The only gallery I know is the one in the Bay. My sat-nav messes me about so much when I try to drive round Cardiff that now I only ever come in by train and as a result tend to stay in the very central or Bay areas. I think I visited Roath Park once several years ago shortly after moving to Treorci.
Helen Lush (author) from Cardiff, Wales, UK on May 01, 2013:
Thanks Rose Anne - it's a long way from Virginia :-)
Rose Anne Karesh from Virginia on April 30, 2013:
Thank you for such an informative, well written hub! You've made me want to travel to your gallery and see for myself.
Helen Lush (author) from Cardiff, Wales, UK on April 11, 2013:
Thank you - I hope you get here one day :)
Donna Herron from USA on April 10, 2013:
This gallery looks and sounds wonderful :) I dream of going to Wales someday. When that day comes, I'll definitely have to visit Oriel Makers! Thanks for sharing :)