Shani Rhys James, New York Residency, Exhibition at the Royal Cambrian Academy
15 September - 20 October 2018
Fech gwahoddir i agoriad Dydd Sadwrn y 15 Medi, 2018 am 2yp.
You are invited to the opening on Saturday 15 September 2018 at 2pm.
Colombia University New York September to October 2015
Residency at Teachers’ College
This work was produced in New York at a residency at Columbia University. I was stimulated by the energy of the place and the crowds of people where there was such a mixture of races. There was also a grimyness in, say, the subways and I wanted to capture this underbelly - extreme rich and poor as in any urban city in this current climate. Men and women would enter the subway and address the crowd because they needed money, and give an impassioned speech. There were people living on the street and there is no social welfare so you wondered how they survived in the winter months. There was also a bigness about the place an optimism despite the poverty. A place where you could see how Batman was conceived where steam would rise from the streets and there were gargantuan pipes wending their way above the subway ceilings, big oversized feats of engineering. There was extreme contrast, the safe middle class Upper Manhatten and just crossing an avenue was Harlem. It connected me with my work I did in London at St Martins which was of the crowd, inspired by T.S Eliot’s Wasteland. “Each man walked with his eyes before his feet, I did not know death had undone so many” was the theme of the London crowd where people averted their eyes and looked straight ahead, but here people talked to you, looked at you, were friendly, so different from London.
I had to work quickly, given a space and produce an exhibition in a month. I had no plans just responded to the place in a totally instinctive way. The first three days I was in bed with a migraine and behind me was a red wall. I would talk to family on Facetime so the bed, the sheet, the red wall and my face predominated. I simplified it down to its simple components. The painting Red Moon is of a giant head painted the day of the red moon and the other large pieces were in response to the crowd and the subway.