Undo Things Done

29/02/2020 – 25/04/2020
Sean Edwards

As lead organisation for Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice 2019, Tŷ Pawb was the first venue to host Sean Edwards’ ‘Undo Things Done’ exhibition in the UK following its display at the Venice Biennale in 2019.

Undo Things Done takes as its starting point Edwards’ experience of growing up on a council estate in Cardiff in the 1980s, capturing and translating what he calls a condition of ‘not expecting much’ into a shared visual language; one that evokes a way of living familiar to a great number of people. As part of the presentation in Wrexham, which included Welsh quilts, prints, sculpture and film, the artist reworked Refrain, 2019.

Refrain is a radio play written for the artist’s mother co-produced by National Theatre Wales performed by the artist’s mother Lily Edwards. This radio play, which was at the heart of the Venice exhibition, was performed live daily during the Biennale, streamed from her flat in Cardiff to the Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice 2019 venue Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, Castello. Refrain weaves Lily Edwards’ biography, growing up in a Northern Irish Catholic Children’s Home and her subsequent life in Wales, with found materials and Sean Edwards’ memories from childhood. Edwards adapted the specially commissioned version of Refrain produced by John Norton and Martin Williams which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 17 December 2019.

Edwards’ presentation Undo Things Done in Venice received 25,000 visitors during the run of La Biennale di Venezia however, along with a number of other official presentations, drew to an early close due to unprecedented flooding across the city. The floods affected a significant steel and wood work in parallel with the past i-iv, 2019 which has been removed from the tour with new works instead added by the artist as the tour progresses. As an artist who always adapts every exhibition to its new context these changes have been absorbed into Edwards own working process.

Edwards’ emotionally resonant body of work for Undo Things Done – film, sculptures, prints and Welsh quilts – expands and develops with the tour. Known for his sculptural approach to the everyday, Edwards often begins with seemingly unrelated elements linked by autobiographical and cultural connections. Through investigative processes including time spent in local archives, museums and libraries, he gathers together images, stories, quotes, and clips. It is in the teasing out of these things in the studio, in isolating, abstracting, and bringing them together, that their political and formal resonance comes into play.

Undo Things Done travels to Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice 2019 partner Bluecoat, Liverpool before completing the exhibition tour at Senedd, Cardiff, by invitation of the National Assembly of Wales.

The tour of Undo Things Done is kindly supported by Art Fund and Colwinston Charitable Trust.

For more information about Wales in Venice please visit https://arts.wales/venice

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