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Being included in Celf ar y Cyd – The Contemporary Art Collection of Wales


Celf ar y Cyd: The Contemporary Art Collection

When I saw an open call out from Celf ar Y Cyd to create an artwork on the subject of Politics, Protest and Activism, being your typical ‘No confidence’ artist, I waited a while before I decided to have a go. I DO have something to say, I paint all the time of these subjects close to my heart, so why not? I had nothing to lose.

Let me tell you about Celf ar y Cyd, because it’s a hugely important and truly amazing idea for not just Wales, but the whole world.
At the moment it’s a work in progress, but you can access as many works as they’ve managed to get online here .
Launched in 2020, this site will enable everyone to view the thousands of contemporary artworks from the collection (a lot of which are in storage and not hanging up) at Amgueddfa Cymru  – Museum Wales online,  making this a truly inclusive experience for so many people  – myself included, People who would for various reasons, never get the opportunity to see these works.
The national collection spans hundreds of years and is cared for by Amgueddfa Cymru conservators and curators, and is made up of all art types, including paintings, sculptures, photography, videos, 3D installations, drawings, artists’ sketchbooks and more.
It really is its own work of art!


Following is the idea I had to enter the Open callALLANOL/EXTERNAL – Open call for artistic responses: Politics, Protest and Activism 

As a response to your open call for politics protest and activism, I’d like to create a collage/painting. I have 2 images in my mind, disabled people trapped or drowning, or myself surrounded by my PIP form (that’s a personal independence form) circling around me, enveloping me, sprouting vines that entangle everything.  Keeping me trapped, making me static and useless and hopeless.That sound really depressing, but being able to create and confront all this, helps enormously. I’m disabled and I receive PIP (Personal independance payment) the media and our Government unfortunately ‘persuade’ people in the UK to believe we (disabled people) don’t deserve help, that we’re more or less swindling tax payers out of money and we should all gets jobs (even when we are too disabled or ill to work full time, and there is the medical that we all have to go through which is nothing short of dehumanising).
This has been happening for years, and been underlined this week (This was November 2023) by the government announcing yet more benefit cuts and the demand that we all get jobs. I’ll use my real Pip form to create this, by either collage or by writing (or both!).I haven’t attached any sketches as I tend to dive in, I don’t plan by drawing first, but rather, see it in my minds eye, then create it. I use a lot of inks in my work which gives it a chaotic edge (you never know where it’ll run!), but I could perhaps draw my idea for you – But they will turn into the full blown thing!I was amazed and feel truly privileged to have been chosen to be a part of Celf ar a cyd, creating a piece on Politics, protest and activism.  With support from Sara Treble-Parry from the museum of Wales (thank you Sara). I began… Panopticom. 




I don’t really plan out paintings. I DO have images in my mind’s eye, and I do sometimes have an idea of what I’d like to do, but one thing I’ve learned is – that planning is all very well and good, but what you create oftens turns out completely different from your plan.
That’s why I embrace chaos… and its why my favourite medium is ink.
It simply can NOT be controlled, it runs, it leaks, it splashes, it has its own will, and I love using it because of its unpredictability. 
I knew I wanted to be central – it’s all about ME!  – but that’s not my thinking, this is my journey, my experience and by using my own PIP form (something I’ve done before in ‘You’ll be the Death of me I & II’) I needed to be the central figure and wanted to give a feeling to the viewer of being ‘captured’ rather than drowned. Caught up in the inescapable vines of proving just how ‘ill’ you are, trapped in the system, the constant circular prison of disbelief and slurs.
Here you can see I sketched a basic idea then began the process of cutting and gluing, in a circular motion, around and around – using my PIP form as the ‘trap’.

The actual ‘making of’ of this painting/collage wasn’t as straight forward as you’d think. Layering slivers of text into a descending circle while trying to make that text VISIBLE was… extremely time consuming and fiddly. 
I started black and white. Using a laser printer I took my last PIP form with answers and changed the font and size of the text, printed it out then the arduous process of cutting it out began. In fact the cutting out didn’t stop!
I then put a layer of ink over the collage in ‘garden’ tones as I wanted to give the impression of being entwined – caught in branches and vines of authority, of being overgrown and without choice.


It’s quite hard talking about how you ‘make’ something. Although I don’t make elaborate and precise plans – I do have an idea, and I do give any piece my full attention, but am loose and free, and will flow with that piece.

Panopticon, based on emotion, grounded in politics and – I hope – buzzing with activism and protest, is like all my other creations, deeply personal.
Art as we all know is subjective, but I do also know that unless you have had to apply for PIP, then it’s very unlikely you would have ever seen the form or have any notion of what the DWP want to know about you.
They want to know everything, in detail. From how far you can walk, to if you can lift a pen up, to if you are capable of wiping your own bottom.
I hope the text on this piece is visible.
I want the viewer to see   -what at first looks like one thing – But after looking a little closer, will see what it really is.

Panopticon is a collage/painting of a circular prison made up the artist’s genuine Personal Independence Form (PIP).

In 1791 Philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham came up with the idea of ‘Panopticon’, a circular prison. Where all the ‘prisoners’ are observed by a single central person. meaning the inmates do not know when they are being watched.
The fact that the inmates do not know when they are being watched motivates them to act as though they are all being watched at all times, making them ‘compliant’ through fear, much like disabled people on benefits.
Applying for PIP is traumatic, the medical we are forced to endure is dehumanising and we are constantly terrified of being found ‘fit for work’.
The recent news coverage revealing that the DWP will soon have the power to access all benefits claimant’s personal information (bank account and social media) caused an uproar, however, the DWP has ALWAYS been able to access this – ‘in case of fraud’. They can also watch you at any time of the day in a disguised car, and follow you, just case you are not as disabled as you say you are (in other words a parasite, dole scum, a scrounger….).

We’ve always been watched and judged.