Friday 19 June 2015
In Caerphilly Castle Moat for the fourth year running is the work of upcycling extraordinaire Barry Lewis. The Rhondda based sculptor has gained much recognition in the past for his 20ft ‘Monster in the Moat’, giant Octopus and Killer Whale installations and returns this year with a brand new creation.
The emphasis on the installation is to create a visually engaging artwork that is accessible to a wide audience and is site specific in terms of context and physical location. Constructed primarily from old satellite dishes, the giant Crab, has been installed ahead of Barry’s new weird and wonderful exhibition entitled ‘WreckCreation’ which will open in Y Galeri, Caerffilli next week.
Y Galeri has been working in partnership with CADW to bring the installation to fruition. The artist is thrilled to display his work once again in such a prominent place with such a historic backdrop. As in previous years the piece and his exhibition is sure to generate a huge amount of interest.
Back in Y Galeri the sculptural menagerie will include freestanding pieces many of which have not been previously shown including his truly impressive Swan, Moose and Cow. Also making their debut appearance is a new series of wall hung works including his new seahorse, a pug, stag, buffalo and numerous other quirky animal heads.
Barry Lewis’ doesn’t see ‘rubbish’ in the same way as others. His sculptures are all created with things you and I might throw away, from rusty spoons and old toasters to salvaged bike and car parts that have outlived their use and would have ended up in landfill or the scrap yard. With his unique vision he transforms these items and brings them to life: this is true for the tiniest piece of metal to much larger projects, like The Ebenezer Chapel in Tonypandy which has recently become his new studio.
‘Hidden behind the towering cracked walls of the Chapel is the veritable treasure trove from which I work. Waste comes in through the door of the previously abandoned old school rooms attached to the chapel, and leaves having been mysteriously fashioned into something beautiful, to be sold in galleries around the UK’.
Attributing his success to his lack of university education and saturation in the art-world, he reckons that the best ideas for art really come from within. Barry says his inspiration is partly inherited and partly acquired: ‘As a young boy growing up in Tonypandy in the Rhondda I was fascinated with my Grandfathers’ ability to create and to bring things to life in his shed. If this wasn’t enough, my father was an engineer and my mother was a watercolour painter: art and creativity was a strong ingredient of my childhood’.
His sculpting developed during his 25 years as a carpenter and joiner but using rubbish to create animals did not start until the late 90’s during a time of protesting with campaign group RANT. The group were protesting against the dumping of toxic waste in a local landfill: Barry and colleagues would prevent Lorries from carrying the waste up the mountain, often by chaining themselves to the gates. When lorries started dumping their waste at the bottom of the mountain, Barry began taking some of it home, and with that rubbish he started making insects.
The vision behind Barry’s work is all about transformation: as a carpenter he transformed trees into stair cases and now he’s a sculptor he transforms spoons into animals. He believes there is art and beauty to be found in everything, even if it’s a pile of rubbish dumped by an angry lorry driver. As a prolific artist Barry Lewis’ sculptures seem to be growing in size and imagination. The more work he creates the more he realises that there is no limit to what he could make.
The WreckCreation exhibition will be on display at Y Galeri Caerffili from 23 June until 17 July. Barry Lewis will be in Y Galeri on Saturday 27 June to meet visitors and answer questions. Go to the Y Galeri website for more information on the artist, interviews or images.