Ryan discusses his own practice, and how he’s developed as an artist from being a student at Dwr Y Felin. He and Dafydd (previous Ystalyfera student) demonstrate how students can follow a similar pathway. They both speak about how commissions and teaching support their practice.
Ryan’s work focuses around making work that is unfixed or have not fully completed the darkroom development process. He uses his exhibition ‘Divisible Remainder’ which was exhibited at Mission Gallery as an example. The exhibition was lit by a red light because without this neutralizer, any natural light would destroy the half developed or unfixed images. Ryan is interested in the symbolism of decay and how this relates to the viewer. Lighting is also important to Dafydd’s work, but he focuses around the lighting of a subject matter and how this relates to art history (cite Michelangelo and Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro lighting technique). Dafydd’s work explores symbolism too but looks to highlight socio-political issues such as how we as a society view homosexuality.
The first task is for the students to make portraits of each other. They have the use of the photography and fine art studios. They are asked to consider 3 things: how the audience reads you, how you want to be seen, and what you want to communicate. They are also asked to think about what a portrait is and are shown Francis Bacon images as an alternative view on portraiture.
Ryan talks them through the dark room equipment, processes and the importance of experimenting in order to get the right exposure. The portraits were then layered with different objects. The students experimented with the effects of textures and varying exposures as well as got a chance to develop the images in a chemical wash, resulting in some very dramatic and alternative portraits.