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Art Foundation Celebrates 40 Years at Coleg Menai

Coleg Menai’s Art Foundation course, which is delivered at its Parc Menai campus, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Launched in 1981, the Art Foundation course was originally delivered by several renowned practising artists and designers: alongside landscape artist Peter Prendergast were Paul Davies, Ed Davies, Phil Mumford and Alan Brunsdon, and the course was led by Selwyn Jones. Forty years on, the course is now led by Peter’s son Owein Prendergast, alongside Miranda Millieur, Iwan Parry, Darren Hughes, Tim Williams and Helen Jones.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the celebratory exhibition will now take place this year, and has been aptly named ‘40(+1) Celf Sylfaen Bangor Art Foundation’.

The exhibition will be held at Storiel and Pontio in Bangor, and will include the work of 41 notable past students from the Art Foundation course - one artist to mark each year of the course’s existence.

Artists’ work to be featured in the exhibition include that of Ann Catrin Evans, Bedwyr Williams, Billy Bagilhole, Annie Atkins, Bethan Huws and Angharad Pierce Jones, alongside work from current teaching staff.

There will also be a range of other events taking place, including: a screening of ‘Shepherd’ by Russell Owen, followed by a Q&A with Russell in Pontio on Tuesday February 1st; two workshops with Jessie Chorley on March 10th and 11th in Storiel, as well as a range of artists’ talks by such luminaries as Bedwyr Williams and fashion designer Luis Lopez Smith (dates to follow).

Owein Prendergast, Art Foundation course leader, said: “This exhibition, held between Storiel and Pontio, contains the work of over 40 artists and designers from this small part of North West Wales who have gone on to make their mark, significantly, on the world we all live in. It also contains work by the current teaching team. This is just a small snapshot, as thousands of students have passed through the doors of Bangor’s Art Foundation course and gone on to tread their own creative paths. It would be an impossible task to represent them all individually, but hopefully this show represents a collective spirit that those of us who have completed this special course share.

“I am privileged to still be a part of the course that I have led since 1997, and I will forever be indebted to Ed Davies, Paul Davies, Phil Mumford, Alan Brunsdon and Peter Prendergast, all of whom were practising artists in their own right. It is also important to mention Leslie Jones and Selwyn Jones whose original vision led to the course being set up in the first place. We strive to continue to push their original ethos with the same enthusiasm and rigour as when it first started 40+1 years ago. I hope that we can continue to change people’s lives.”

Paul Edwards, Creative Arts programme area manager at Coleg Menai, added: “We are very much looking forward to the Foundation 40(+1) exhibition at Storiel and Pontio. The list of past students who have followed the Art Foundation course at Coleg Menai is truly impressive. We are very grateful for their support in bringing this exhibition to fruition, and thanks to the staff who have worked tirelessly to curate this excellent programme of events.”

Manon Awst, Pontio arts public spaces co-ordinator said: “This course has steered the paths of so many creatives within the area, and it is fantastic to be able to celebrate its success with this exhibition. At Pontio, we're thrilled to show multimedia artworks by six artists, including film, sculpture, sketchbooks and a new site-specific commission. It’s a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with Storiel."

Delyth Williams, visual arts officer at Storiel, said: “We are delighted to be involved in celebrating this notable milestone of forty plus years since the start of the Art Foundation Course at Bangor, and to open our 2022 programme at Storiel with this special exhibition. We are exhibiting an exciting and diverse collection of artworks. The 40+ works on show represent just a fraction of the greater number of past students who have continued with their art practice in various creative and art-related careers.This is testimony to the individuals themselves and to the opportunities offered on this course at Coleg Menai. We would like to thank the course leader for bringing this collaboration together at Storiel and Pontio.”

The exhibition will open to the public on January 22nd, and run until April 2nd 2022.

Entry will be free of charge. There are also plans in place to have a celebratory event between Storiel and Pontio on March 4th (details to follow).