Julia Griffiths Jones won the Gold Medal for Craft and Design at the 2017 National Eisteddfod.
Artist Carwyn Evans and curators Ceri Jones and Jessica Hemmings were invited to select the Open Exhibition and award the prizes. They were unanimous in their decision that the accolade should be bestowed on Julia Griffiths Jones, Llan-y-bri, Carmarthen. The artist was also won the full monetary award of £5,000. Her recreation of a traditional cottage interior ‘Room within a Room’ is made entirely of mild steel wire.
Selector Jessica Hemmings said of the installation:
‘Julia Griffiths Jones has found a way to create drawings in the air… Her way of seeing is partially familiar – we recognise the shapes of domestic objects and decorative details – but they are transformed into structural marks and cast shadows. The result feels as though a little magic is at work.’
Educated at Winchester School of Art and The Royal College of Art, as a student Julia won a travel bursary which took her to Slovakia to study folk art and culture. Years later the idea for the award–winning installation took shape when she came across a reconstruction of a Welsh farmhouse kitchen at her local museum in Abergwili.
‘It was a room that you could not enter, where the viewer could only imagine the intense activities of domestic life being carried out daily’ said Julia Griffiths Jones. ‘Having drawn and documented similar scenes in cottages in Eastern Europe, I wanted to bring imagery from these two cultures together using line drawing in steel as the connecting factor.
Selector Carwyn Evans said of the work:
‘Julia's work is so fine as to be almost not there… Informed by drawing, the outlines relate directly to objects, shapes and forms that we can identify. We imaginatively feel the works thinness between finger and thumb: a want to touch, explore, inhabit.’
And third selector Ceri Jones commented:
‘Julia's striking and evocative forms resonate on many levels. That this is a domestic tableau makes the notion of absence all the more poignant. Who will tend to the kettle or slip on the socks? The details are suggestive and the shadows allusive.’
Julia Griffiths Jones’ ‘Room within a Room’ is on exhibition within a specifically designed space in Y Lle Celf at the Anglesey 2017 National Eisteddfod of Wales, and festival Chief Executive, Elfed Roberts added, “It’s vitally important that Y Lle Celf reflects the visual arts sector here in Wales, and that we provide the most effective space possible for a wide range of artistic genres.
“I very much hope that visitors will be entranced by Julia’s work which has been placed in a simple yet very effective space."