Welsh Emergency Blanket
Welsh Emergency Blanket is an ongoing series of work that responds to the proposal for Wales to become the first Nation of Sanctuary. The work was started in Summer 2018 and is in line with the trajectory of my work that questions the origins and ramifications of our psychological relationship to others.
Materials have a language, they speak to us, some more strongly than others. But what happens when these materials and their associations are mixed? Do they clash and collide, or sit in uncomfortable silence with each other? Do they merge and blend, starting a conversation with each other; perhaps even giving birth to new form?
Welsh Emergency Blanket brings two visual elements and their associations together. The first element draws on the distinctive pattern of Welsh blankets. These blankets and their patterns have multiple associations, commonly; nostalgia, warmth, childhood, tradition, memory, comfort and heritage.
The second element is the gold emergency blanket. In contrast to the first element, the emergency blanket is mass-produced, cheap and utilitarian, commonly seen in documentary photography relating to refugee camps or migrants arriving on the shores of Europe; the association therefore is perhaps one of pain and suffering, but also of elsewhere and ‘others’.
The title Welsh Emergency Blanket is perhaps an ominous one; is there an emergency or likely to be one; what would such a blanket be needed for? The work acts as a platform and brings together what may appear to be two very different conversations; the here and there, the national and the global. Welsh Emergency Blanket attempts to reconcile these two positions into one, and raises questions of the national within the context of the global. Is it possible to be psychologically in two places at once, simultaneously here and elsewhere, drawing upon a strong national identity while maintaining a global perspective on the human condition?
This work was awarded the Gold Medal for Fine Art at the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst 2019.
A clip of me talking about the work can be seen here:
BBC Two - The Story of Welsh Art, Series 1, Episode 3, Welsh Foil Blankets