Spring life through art

Getting through the winter months can sometimes be challenging. The NIA team have embraced this period with force and determination to path their way into a positive, if thoughtful spring, heading towards a vibrant summer.

Gareth has a busy couple of months in May and June working with Theatr Ffynnon, Elaine Paton and devising a new Clarks performance for festivals in Wales. The last few months have been equally busy as Gareth has toured his solo show (F.E.A.R.) and directed Jonny Cotsen’s autobiographical performance Louder Is Not Always Clearer.

The new Clarks show has been commissioned by Wales Outdoor Art Consortium and is entitled ‘Electioneering’. The premise is a sideways look at the body language and media trained responses of politicians in the limelight. Little did the Clarks know that Mrs May was calling a snap General Election so the show has something of a timely feel. Electioneering will be at Dance Days in Swansea, Big Splash in Newport, National Eisteddfod in Anglesey, Festival No.6 in Portmerion and Llawn in Llandudno. There are other planned performances popping up across Wales with a sneak preview at Machynlleth Comedy festival and The Blue Lagoon.

In August Gareth is taking (F.E.A.R.) to the Edinburgh Fringe and will be performing from 4 – 28 August. It’s a busy and productive time. 

Electioneering 4.jpg

Marega, ‘a natural born ScriBBler’, can only describe her latest event as the equivalent of having Soul Food. In ‘Draw To Perform’ at the Fabrica Gallery, Brighton.

She describes the event as ‘The appreciation for sharing practice in this type of event is enriching for all involved’. For this years event she chose to return to her starting point of combining drawing / markmaking with movement. ‘I first explored this idea in 2009 and the voice telling me to return to the starting point eight years later with a body that is eight years older felt like an important choice to make.’ 

The drawing theme has continued to thread its way through the year so far, with the invitation to facilitate drawing workshops with teachers ( from secondary and primary schools ) in South Wales and in North Wales – which will take place later in the year.

The underlying aim is to re-kindle the urge to make a mark  and to encourage different ways of seeing using different approaches to drawing.

Finally on the drawing theme, Inviting The Neighbours Around To Paint will be part of the TROUBLEMAKERS festival in Swansea, 15 & 16th July.

TROUBLEMAKERS is a festival with the aim to disrupt the everyday and offer up creative alternatives as to how we navigate our way from A to B.image.jpeg

Photo credit –Manja Williams

Jo is currently exhibiting some of the photos from her Home in Maindee, photographic project, has transformed part of Maindee Library into a Living Room space.

I’ve sat in quite a few living rooms over the past months, listening and sharing stories with such great people, about why they’ve chosen to make Maindee their home. says Jo.  “The living room is the heart of any home and it’s the room where most people have been comfortable enough and inspired to talk to me.  It’s been so great to see visitors coming in to sit in the space and get a real sense of what this project has been about, and what it has meant to me.”

 The project has been an honest account of the people featured, with each one sharing their own personal and historical links to Maindee. Some of the stories are funny anecdotes, some are sad too, but all reflect a genuine and loyal connection to the area.


   This is the third project NIA members have supported Finding Maindee with, all through the ‘Ideas: People, Places’ larger Welsh regeneration project.

In March, Jo photographed the International Women’s Day event at The Riverfront and went on to march with the international Million Women Rise peaceful protest held in London. These recent assignments are part her creative archive she continues to add to, of her previous photographic work raising awareness of domestic abuse.

While Stephanie is preparing to spending time in the studio working on her first major solo mosaic art and sculptural exhibition funded by the Arts Council of Wales this coming autunm. She has spent an intensive period of time working on the research of this project, formulating a visual process she has created to aid her language and communication, as a predominately visual-spatial thinker or person with dyslexia.

Although this period has had its challenges, two notable events of integration with her mosaic artist community have provided support and a sense of well-being to her new direction of thought. In March Stephanie was invited by mosaic activist Carrie Reichardt to aid her in the completion of her iconic mosaic house in Chiswick, London. Isidora Paz Lopez, director of The 1st International Mosaic Intervention, Chile, and many other international mosaic artists who met in Chile in 2014 where reunitied. This brought 13 artists together once more, plus the addition of many more from The Treatment Rooms Art Collective based in London to collectively bring their artistic energy togther to finish the house.


Inspiring City article

In addition, Detroit, this notable ‘surviving’ city, was the location of this years SAMA Conference for the Society of American Mosaic Artists. As Carrie and Isidora were talking at the event and UK’s Tamara Froud, and friend, was winner of the Site-Specific Award, I volunteered to help at the event as my work was being featured in the conference. Rubbing shoulders, litteraly, with one of the Maestro’s of the mosaic world, Verdiano Marzi was not only an inspiration, but an incredible opportunity to share techniques, materials, process and laughter, and a lot of it too, with many of the notable international mosaic artists of this time.

Behind the scenes with NIA artists

imageIt was certainly a year of creative projects flung far and wide. But we did manage a quiet day or two in late December to catch up for chat and plan some NIA exploration for 2017. Keep watching this space! For now we thought we’d share a little bit of what’s been happening lately…

A busy few months now sees Gareth touring Wales with his first solo show (F.E.A.R.) – a one-man show about constructed fear.


The show examines the pressure society, religion, media and family place onto young shoulders. In this life story, that encapsulates early childhood memories and public information films, a clear and ever more fevered narrative unearths the fears of a middle-aged man plagued with the news of Islamic State attacks, the revelations of Edward Snowden, the rise of UKIP and of a growing concern of physical decay. Described as ‘a powerful blast of theatre’ (F.E.A.R.) allows the audience to witness the vulnerability of a solo male performer in full confessional mode.

Gareth is excited that this is showing across Wales in February and March, with an additional show at AMATA Falmouth. (F.E.A.R.) will be at The Riverfront from 22 – 24 March and if you remember his performance in NIA’s Beneath The Surface you will know that it’s going to be a compelling performance.

Time and Place created an opportunity for NIA’s Mosaic Artist, Stephanie Roberts to support local residents in re-connecting with a local environment through making observations of urban textures.

These mosaic art studies created visual records of textures and patterns relating to the architecture and environmental status of their time of creation and place of origin. These mosaic artworks will contribute to the archive of Maindee’s regeneration project through a community developed project which gave opportunities to groups to form and study through creative arts the contemporary landscape of their local environment through investigation and discovery.

The project focused on collecting images gathered from the buildings, pavements and roof tops to draw on the individual attachment that connects us to an environment, therefore the story and subsequent emotion. Photographic images of detailed landscapes were translated into mosaic using the andamento, the movement of the tile, to re create the landscape and develop each individual character mosaic. A process of abstraction through repeating each design brought a unity of aesthetic to each piece and therefore creating, if you like, intellectual pattern or a ‘swatch’ of fabric design which relates to the original inspiration for the project at Cazer’s Menswear that hosts a multitude of mosaic art at its door.

Marega’s 2017 has started off by diving straight into a creative melting pot, with a collaboration between HiJinX Theatre and Frantic Assembly. Working with students, teaching physical theatre skills and devising techniques.

photo-1Along with her getting the marketing side of Mr and Mrs Clark’s (F.E.A.R.) tour under way, future projects in the pipeline include a further exploration into linking the world of drawing and dance. A meeting with the Riverfront in Newport, is planned to start a dialogue about how to put these ideas into practise, which will result in a performance later in the year. She’s hoping to work with Maja Palser  ( yes, they are related! ) who composes music and sound composition.

Marega has also been invited to perform at a performance-based art event in Brighton which takes place at the beginning of March. This comes as a result of taking part in the Draw To Perform festival in London last year- a wonderful event if you like crossing art forms and getting messy.

Jo is on a journey with her documentary photo project about why people are Finding a Home in Maindee. It’s been a journey of sharing stories, many of these stories are hers as well as theirs, while she takes a look at why and how people came to live there.

Carol talks about why she needs to downsize the family home. Her home in Maindee was where her children used to hold discos in the living room when they were young. Jhons and Francy’s home gave them back their health and a new life with the communities they’re now part of. Jo is planning an exhibition of the work in late spring.
She’s also been focussing on her editorial work, mainly through documenting children and families, and has had a few features along with a front cover in JUNO, a natural parenting magazine. With a new project in the planning stage about relationships – working with children to find out who inspires them in their day-to-day lives and why.