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Critical hope; A group of young contemporary Welsh artists feel so under-represented in South Wales that they have organised their own exhibition. Gavin Allen talks to the people behind Crit.

FOR a young artist the "crit" is often something to fear - but it's a necessary evil. The critical evaluation, explains artist Gwenllian Ash from Llanishen, Cardiff is "what you do at the end of your project in university or art school when you all gather around and discuss each other's work and the lecturer tells you how rubbish you are."

But Gwen and a group of 14 other young contemporary Welsh artists have banded together to create an exhibition that offers a public crit to artists who might otherwise have no way of exhibiting their work and gaining feedback.

Their exhibition, called Crit, opens at The Old Library in Cardiff on Saturday and the gallery space will include a board where visitors can leave their comments on the artwork.

"The reason we are putting on this exhibition is because I have found a real lack of contemporary art in Wales," says Gwen, 25.

"So many of my friends are fantastic artists and we always talk about each other's work but no-one ever gets to see it and we don't get a chance to exhibit it.

"At some galleries in Cardiff you would have to pay pounds 1,000 for a week's exhibition and it's one of those struggles you have as an artist, you have all your work but you can't actually afford to show it.

"So this is an opportunity to do so for virtually nothing. The great thing about The Old Library is that they let us use it free because it's a council-run venue.

"The artists only have to pay pounds 10 each to exhibit, which is to cover our costs for the opening night, but after that the best thing about this exhibition is that it's free for anyone to come in and walk around and it's not elitist in any way."

The team behind Crit hope to make this an ongoing quarterly exhibition and are welcoming submissions for their next stint at The Old Library. It will provide a crucial vent for local emerging artists who struggle financially argues Rhondda artist Rachel Lewis.

"I've been a 'freelance illustrator' for three years now and what that means is you do everything for free, or in some cases in exchange for something, like tickets for a show," she says, "so paying for an exhibition is very hard.

"It's very difficult when you leave university. You think you will get a slot in the industrial world but it's not there for you. So this is also a way to scoop up all the artists who aren't represented by agents or who don't work for big corporate companies.

"Often, when you communicate visually, you find it difficult to present your work to people who don't understand you as an individual let alone as an artist. This is a way to help those people present themselves."

Crit is at The Old Library in The Hayes, Cardiff from August 15-29. Admission is free. Anyone wanting to submit work for future Crit events can email critcardiff@hotmail.com

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Artists Ryan Turner, Gwenllian Ash and Rachel Lewis will be exhibiting at Crit this week PICTURE: Mark Fraser
COPYRIGHT 2009 MGN Ltd.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 13, 2009
Words:526
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