Cywain - the Rural Life Centre in Bala, North Wales
This recently completed centre by architect Huw Meredydd Owen of Dobson Owen integrates buildings, artworks and landscape in an innovative manner and stunning setting. Angharad Pearce Jones and Howard Bowcott were appointed as lead artists to explore design concepts and develop their own individual works, as Howard explains:
“I chose to explore human interaction with the natural environment by creating a series of sculptures that reference ancient activities and fundamental shapes, but which interpret them in a contemporary and imaginative manner. Thus an old Drover’s road running past the site rapidly became the inspiration for animal footprints created by local school children.
I also wanted to explore the earthy, physical qualities of agricultural life; the everyday cycle of life and death that is inherent in working the land - but from which many of us are now far removed. The image of the blade became a key starting point, because the blade is fundamental to working the land. The blade of the plough cuts the earth to plant crops, the scythe cuts the crop; shears cut the fleece and the blade of the knife slaughters the animal reared on the land.
Another fundamental aspect is the element of touch. Working the land makes it come alive with produce, and as a sculptor I make my materials come alive with new interpretations through touch and manipulation. The well-worn shape of a tool handle speaks of purpose and frequent use, and reminds us of those whose hands hold the tool to work the land.”