Casgliad: Cecile Johnson Soliz


Gathered 3, 2013, Paper, paint, wood. 24” x 7” x 6” and 20”wooden arm


Capel Y Graig is excited to welcome Cecile Johnson Soliz to work as artist-in-residence from June 2nd – 27th.

Cecile has been working on a Major Creative Wales Award in Cardiff during the last year exploring relationships between photography, drawing, painting and sculpture.

We shall be opening up the Capel on Thursday evening, June 19th between 5-8pm and would like to invite you to join us.

We will also be welcoming visitors on request during the last two weeks in June. If you would like to visit, please get in touch and speak to Avi.



Capel Y Graig, Ffwrnais (Furnace), Machynlleth, SY208PQ.

Parking: See signs for Dyfi Furnace on the A487.



Mae’n bleser gan Capel Y Graig goresawu Cecile Johnson Soliz i weithio fel artist preswyl o Mehefin 2ail – 27ain.

Mae Cecile wedi bod yn gweithio ar Wobr Creadigol Mawr Cymru yng Nghaerdydd dros y flwyddyn ddiwethaf yn archwilio’r berthynas rhwng ffotograffi, lluniadau, peintio a cherflunio.

Fe fyddwn yn agor y Capel ar nos Iau, Mehefin 19eg rhwng 5-8pm a hoffem eich gwahodd i ymuno â ni. Fe fyddwn hefyd yn croesawu ymwelwyr ar gais yn ystod pythefnos olaf mis Mehefin. Os hoffech ymweld, cysylltwch i siarad gydag Avi.



Capel Y Graig, Ffwrnais, Machynlleth, SY208PQ.

Parcio: Gweler yr arwyddion am Ffwrnais Dyfi ar yr A487.








Jenny Hall

I was introduced to Avi Allen and Capel y Graig on a land journey curated by Simon Whitehead in 2012. Having descended, soaking wet, from low hanging cloud in the Cambrian hills I walked into the serenity of the restored Capel and rested mind and body.

I returned again recently. It remains as exquisite an offering as I had remembered.

01‘Hollow’ prototype

Avi invited me to the Capel following a workshop I ran in early May that she attended called ‘Play, Space and Performance.’ Jointly run with my colleague Dr Andrew Filmer, a lecturer in the Dept. of Theatre, Film and Television at Aberystwyth University, the workshop sought to explore intersections between architecture, construction and theatre. We used lightweight modular cardboard boxes designed for sitting and standing on, that connect together and also fit comfortably in the arms of a child.

We explored how these boxes might form a modular theatre set that becomes an integral and malleable component of a performance.

The boxes also serve another purpose: they are a prototype for a new installation that I am researching: ‘Hollow’ makes visible the underground space left after mineral extraction. Its muse: a curvaceous 17th century copper mine.

One of my sketches of the 1826 cross-section of Orijarvi copper mine

Over the winter I was artist-in-residence at Fiskars Village in Finland, a thriving arts and cultural space that was once alive with blast furnaces and molten iron. In the 17th Century, copper ore was smelted there that had been extracted from the local Orijarvi copper mine. The only record of this beautiful space is a draughtsman’s cross-sectional drawing from 1826. No data has since been recorded because the mine was flooded once exhausted.

We have burrowed underground for raw materials to build wealth. With which we have concentrated population and cultivated society. We have much to thank for the underground chambers that gave birth to life above ground.

I want to make visible these underground spaces that serve as a mirror of the culture above ground. Further I want to rationalise the organic, sensuous forms to restore the industrial drive behind their inception.
‘Hollow’ mirrored on a reflective surface (sketch up model)

04‘Hollow’ prototype: a place for moving in, on and around

05‘Hollow’ interior (sketch up model)

I would like to create a regular rhythmic form that can be easily constructed, that can increase and decrease proportionally in steps. The cube lends itself to such a structure. Interestingly, Plato associated the earth with the cube.

06‘Hollow’ research phase in Capel

I want to use small cardboard cubes to represent the analogue curves of Orijarvi mine as a series of steps. This simplification of the complex void allows it to be partially transmitted through time and space and made accessible today. Cardboard is both organic and industrial, capable of being rigid but also soft. It is tactile and it smells nice. During ‘Play, Space and Performance’ we found the box to be comfy to sit on, resonant to drum, scratch, sing and listen to: an ordinary sensory object of great potential.

‘Hollow’ will be constructed on a reflective surface so as to appear to float. Represented as a large scale architectural model, it is free from the earth that holds and hides its beauty. This allows the viewer to see the beauty of the underground mine as a discrete object.
Working in the Capel over three days I was able to develop ideas at an architectural scale that I had played with in the studio at my desk. I learnt the constructive and structural limitations of the system and brainstormed solutions. I was also able to see how the body interacts with the solids and voids created.

My daughter and friend came for the day and gave profound feedback in terms of what they intuitively wanted to do and play with. It is essential that the structure is robust and climbable and permits self-driven exploration.

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‘Hollow’ also needs to be juxtaposed with loose boxes that are scattered in the space that can be moved, stacked and appropriated. That enable the viewer to interact with the constructive and flexible potential of the material.

‘Moulding clay into a vessel, we find the utility in its hollowness; Cutting doors and
windows for a house, we find the utility in its empty space. Therefore the being of
things is profitable, the non-being of things is serviceable.’

From Chapter 11 of The Tao Te Ching

There is something gained from also seeing these ‘profitable’ goods juxtaposed with their ‘serviceable’ mirror: the hollow left behind.

‘Hollow’ is still work in progress but I’m very excited by the shapes it is taking and our journey. Orijarvi mine was not surveyed before it was closed but there are many accessible mines that could be three dimensionally surveyed and modelled both in Finland and in Wales that would be interesting to make visible too.

Dr Andrew Filmer made an interesting point about how mining could be catalogued as a series of forms that could map the evolution of mining technology. I’m intrigued to explore this subject at multiple scales and across different media to create an architectural study of the hollows beneath our feet.

With great thanks to Avi for creating this essential, loving arts space at Capel y Graig.

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Cosmic Compost Louise Short: a response by avi allen

louise's mushrooms at Aber museum

Initially I was uneasy with the idea (or my perceived notion) of an art piece created off site to be ‘tried out’ in the capel, that the capel may provide merely a convenient large enough physical space for the physical demands of a work.

Having been enthralled and deeply moved by Siriol Joyner’s process during her visit in the summer; a sincere intention and excitement to ‘become’ with the capel, I had decided to invite artists in the future that will involve the capel space as integral to their practice development. I was concerned that the capel was some how now going to be disrespected; a very temporary ‘deposit’ on the floor, undertaken merely with the intention to check the logistics in terms of a further potential established exhibition space…

I WAS SO WRONG, and I apologise to you Louise! It was immediately apparent  that Louise and Alice Forward (Artist and partner…part of Short&Forward ) had an innate respect and care for the Capel space, both in its physical presence and social context, and were excited about, and thoughtful regarding how the work and they would, converse with both. I was so pleased that Louise and Alice accepted my offer to help them lay over four hundred beautifully casted mushroom pieces on the Capel floor. I immediately felt that I wanted to help and be involved.

I had intended to ask Louise to explain more about this work and her wider practice..take notes, as I was genuinely excited about it, however, as the experience unfolded it somehow seemed inappropriate to probe, but rather to let thoughts and conversations  ‘emerge’… ‘pop up’ fungi like, in the process. Quietly unwrapping the mushrooms and laying them intuitively with care on the floor; feeling the hands/mushroom casts/wooden floor relationship, with an awareness of the pulpit, the light flooding in from the high windows and past experiences in the capel , gentle and wondrous discussions arose about fungi, bees ( a subject that Alice is passionate about within her art practice), capel acoustics and more…

For me, what became a shared reverent repetitive action of unwrapping, touching, laying, moving the mushroom casts, lifting and re wrapping them opened a space to quietly re consider notions of ecological relationship. The particularly wondrous conversation ‘Making Art About Centipedes’ between Suzi Gablik and Christopher Manes, from Gablik’s book ‘Conversations before the end of time’ came to mind, in which they discuss and challenge the perceived evolutionary hierarchy between humans and fungi. ( I now know that this conversation between Gablik and Manes, amongst other conversations within the book, is one that Louise is also particularly fond of. )

I was touched by Louise’s thoughtful and sensitive decision that the work ‘had somehow found its resting place’ and in order for the work to be shown elsewhere, she would have to discover other ways of showing it. For me, it was poignant that Louise considered the work and the capel as one..a becoming of the two that could not be replicated.

What a wondrous Capel day!.. great to meet two exciting artists, that have become dear friends. I also rather like being described as a ‘rare and wonderful sub species’.. of the art world…I think?..yes…thank you Louise.

Louise Short is a critical thinker…a deep and unusual thinker, and I feel privilaged to share time thinking with her. It is ‘sharing’ I always now look forward to.

I have recently been to Louise Short’s latest exhibition, Mycophilia, at The Old Chemist, now part of Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth…it is wondrous and intelligent of course…and yes she has found a new way to show the mushrooms! (see the above image)

Mycophilia runs until May 31st 2014. Alice Forward’s exhibition Swarm Society will run from June 12th till 2nd August.

Cosmic Compost at Capel Y Graig Winter 2013 Louise Short



Often artists need just time and space to experiment. Searching for location to try out different ways of exhibiting a new work had proved to be quite a challenge here in Ceredigion. On hearing about the de-consecrated Capel y Graig, my attention had been caught. There’s a modest and unassuming aura about the place which has been restored, maintained and nurtured by a dedicated and passionate artist custodian.

Churches are where art could usually be found and more often made onsite, commissioned by the Church or its patrons. A place for worship (unlike a gallery white cube) is a context like no other. There’s nothing neutral about it. One may be tempted to rip out the pulpit and board over the window seats and stained glass windows. The Walcot Chapel in Bath sometimes gets ‘the white cube treatment’, always to the detriment of the experience, in my view. I first went there to see a new work by Jannis Kounellis a decade ago and I was taken aback by the interlocking aesthetic of the building and the work. Kounellis had the building sensitively restored and consequently understood that context means everything to a site based installation of this kind. More recently I saw Bedwyr Williams new work The Starry Messenger it the Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Venice. The church and former convent presented Bedwyr with inspiration for the work which was both witty and yet not in the least profane.

The new work looked incredible in the Capel. I felt that somehow it had found its resting place. In order for the work to be shown elsewhere, I need to discover other ways to show the piece (which is proving to be difficult!) So the journey continues and my thanks goes to Avi who made this possible. I have discovered a comrade to whom I have great respect. I hope that we can work together again, perhaps in my artist led space STATION, in Bristol.

Artists who take on buildings for other artists to work in are a rare and wonderful sub species of the art world. This text is dedicated to Kim Fielding who ran an artists’ space, Tactile Bosch, in Cardiff, for many years, who sadly passed away last week.

Louise Short

Siriol Joyner

Gorffennaf 2013 July
A Sacred Arc of Seven Days
A Weddai I’th Dy o Arglwydd Byth

Gwlân yr Oen
Arogl gwlân
Arogl y caws ges i ginio
y flanced lwyd a Joseph Beuys yma gyda mi.
Blew du- arogl y ci- black dog
Deborah Hay’s “Lamb at the Altar”
Gwlân- Oen- Arogl

I lay on the ground
I lay on the blanket, the light on my belly
Light on my face.

The space feels symmetrical and brings me to the image of my own skull and its symmetry. Two ways in, two ways out.
constant wave a broken figure of eight.


My strategies for making are the space itself, blankets, tea, books, notebooks, objects.
Avi lends me ‘Always more than One” by Erin Manning.
We talk about language and ethics, dance making and perception.

“Cleave the notion of the body beyond the human. Connect it to all that co-combines
with it to create a movement of thought. Keep the movement of thought in the world (instead of putting it back in the body) and see what it can do. Consider this image: you are in the garden, your knees covered in mud, hands deep in the earth for an early spring planting. Instead of seeing the earth as a quality apart from the knee attached to a preexisting human form, see the knee-hand-earth as a worlding, a force of form, an operative ecology. See this ecology as an active technique for creating, for the bodying, a taste of spring. Instead of thinking the body as separate from the earth, as separate from the arrival of spring, see the ecology, knee-hand-earth in a spring planting as a technique for tuning the season.”

At one point I dance and begin to think about whether in dance, a technology and a technique might be the same thing.

Drawing Dancing Darllen Photos


Mae’r Capel yn fy nghofio- the Capel remembers me.

Gosod y gwrthrychau a’r blancedi mas:

Dancing and reading again.
sculpture and choreography
“I sing the body electric”
“Sometimes I speak of imagination as a force, an electricity or a medium, a place.”


III (i)

Arrive early and arrange the space
Playing with space and textures, making secret sculptures
Mae’n fore braf o haf. The space is still.

“Sometimes I am electrified by animals”
‘Dwi moyn gwisgo fy siaced Mekaisto a darllen am ychydig.


Solitude, surrender, practice, listening.

….Alignment is everywhere
….there is no one way alignment is everywhere looks or feels. .
….the whole body at once is the teacher
… doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. Just notice the feedback when you play it.

(Deborah Hay, “My Body, the Buddhist”)




Begin with the objects again.
Gosod, newid, chwarae, photos.

Y gwynt yn chwythu’r olwynion yn y ffenestri.
More movement to the Capel today.

Watch the hanging light bulbs, the yellow rings on the ceiling. The pink and the blue.
Constellations. Music of the spheres.

“Art is not purity: it is purification”
“Art is not liberty: it is liberation”
Clarice Lispektor

More object work without meaning to.
“My body engages in work”
“My body likes rest”
“I am alone in a canoe under a blue sky in Vermont. For the first time I experience breathing as a dialogue with all there is”
Deborah Hay




My Mother drops by to visit me in the space.
We note the stillness of the space, and the how the Capel is marked by the care and labour invested there over the years.
A Weddai I’th Dy o Arglwydd Byth.


VI (i)

Lladd gwair yn y cae gerllaw. Arogl melys heddiw.
A gift from Avi: “The engaged position is to run along the earth: – Andre’s lever 1966.

MY BODY LIKES REST (I like rest, not just my body)

I clean and clear the space, returning the Capel to how it looked when I arrived a week ago; it’s almost too far back to remember now. I sit with the Capel and write in my notebook. I enjoy watching the words appear on the page.

I follow my instinct here, in this place.

“A Romanian dog meets a French stick in a Welsh Chapel”.

– Diolch yn fawr Avi –


‘Airing’ in the Capel 23-24 July 2013 Simon Whitehead and Tanya Syed


2tanya and simon trial4

We approached Avi to ask if we could have some time at Capel y Graig to begin a process of filming some dance and movement material developed this year in a small schoolroom studio in Llangoedmor nr. Cardigan.

 We imagined a large, light space to film in, the work needed ‘airing’ in a different, generous space. Capel y Graig was the place…

 Avi, her gentle and warm hosting and the uninterrupted time over 24 hrs in the Capel opened a productive, experimental space. How to create a relationship between the material and the space and the act of filming?  Many questions asked and a lot more continue to emerge

 We filmed in the morning light, in the dark, with lighting and outdoors. We slept on the floor and woke early to begin again.

The Capel, its strong context, a sanctum, offered an amazing resource for voice and sound. Surprising sometimes, a mix of sounds made whilst working and combining with sounds passing through from outside; traffic, birdsong, voices and aeroplanes.

 Each day we began singing/ chanting in the Capel, it seemed like the natural thing to do, and there was a delight in how the space responded. Avi joined us on the second day and the space ‘rang’ with harmonics and distortion, In the discipline of archaeoacoustics it is said the  design of high ceilings in old churches is there to conjoin single voices into a collective voice, an ancient practice, borne out of palaeolithic caves and chambers..

 Tanya hopes to return to lead a sonic meditation workshop later in the year.

 The time seeded some new approaches and has given us a momentum to develop some choreographic relationships between camera, dancer, object and space and to consider more the context we need to create for this process.

 We are grateful for the time and the effect that the Capel has had on our process, we hope to return to ‘air’ the work as it develops…

 Gyda Ddiolch


The (Re)Conditioning: First Act Towards a Self-Portrait- A re-performance- Jess Rose

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This is the fourth re-performance in a series of seven, titled ‘Kids, Doing Copies’. These pieces are re-compositions of Marina Abramovic’s 7 Easy Pieces, for which the artist re-enacted six seminal performance works from the 1960’s and 70’s, including her own Lips of Thomas. This re-performance re-does Gina Pane’s The Conditioning: FirstAct Towards a Self-Portrait, using the surviving photographs from the original as a conceptual score, and placing them physically within the new performance. This re-do aims to un-do the binary between the live and the mediatized, complicating notions of real-time, and confusing the order of past, present, future.

Viewers are asked to please draw the performance as it unfolds (materials provided).

Duration: 7 minutes

Jess Rose is an Mphil student at Aberystwyth University, investigating and developing performative strategies for the re-use of archival material.