FOOLS GOLD, Kathryn Ashill 2021
Fools Gold by Kathryn Ashill is her first exhibition in a public art gallery, and is the result of the Sir Leslie Joseph Young Artist Award, administered by the Friends of Glynn Vivian. The biennial award is open to young artists throughout the UK who have undertaken part of their education in Wales, and offers an excellent opportunity for an emerging artist to have their first solo exhibition in a public gallery.
Fools Gold is a video installation, which explores the artist’s paternal history. Ashill’s father would collect her Iron Pyrites (fools gold) from a surface mine near their home deep in the Tawe Valleys, South Wales. The work moves between this autobiographical narrative and the history of the Louis XIV, nicknamed the Sun King after he danced for courtiers and forced them to worship him, whilst he was dressed head to toe in gold.
Amateur dramatics, the Drag King scene and autobiography are recurring themes in Ashill’s work, which she uses to explore and navigate gender identity.
Funny and playful, Ashill uses the do-it-yourself aesthetics of amateur dramatics to create costumes and ‘sets’ in which she performs as both her father and also as the Sun King. In the exhibition, we enter into a homemade cave created from painted theatre flats drawing us into the central film installation.
The exhibition also includes a new artist book with commissioned art works by Tanad Aaron, Cian Donnelly, Rowan Lear and Fern Thomas.
Kathryn Ashill said ‘Winning the Sir Leslie Joseph Young Artist Award gives me the opportunity to occupy and claim space beyond the live performance. Having been raised in Swansea, the Glynn Vivian has played a significant role in my introduction to contemporary art. Accessing the gallery through education in the late 80’s and early 90’s sparked a lifelong commitment to art-making and becoming an artist. I’ve shown nationally and internationally in a broad-ranging career but exhibiting at the Glynn Vivian is the realisation of a lifelong dream. This is the homecoming of all homecomings!
Selector, Lizzie Lloyd said, “Kathryn’s proposal for the Leslie Joseph Award was fresh, fearless, and downright funny – she has the potential to do something really exciting with Glynn Vivian.”
Kay Renfrew of the Friends of Glynn Vivian said, “The Leslie Joseph Award is a great opportunity to bring a young Welsh artist to a wider audience, and to give them the experience of exhibiting at a prestigious gallery, working with an established exhibition officer and curator. The Friends are delighted to support the prize and we are sure that Kathryn Ashill will create an exciting exhibition.”
Sir Leslie Joseph Young Artist Award
The Award is funded by a generous legacy from the estate of the late Sir Leslie Joseph and is administered by the Friends of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. Previous award winners include Daniel Mulloy, James Donovan, Will Nash, Tomas Lewis, Richard Monahan and Heather Phillipson.
Kathryn Ashill – Brief Biography
Kathryn Ashill (born in Swansea, 1983) lives and works in Barry Island. Ashill obtained BA Hons. Fine Art Combined Media at Swansea Metropolitan University (now UWTSD) and holds an MFA from Glasgow School of Art, and has shown both nationally and internationally. Ashill is a current practice based PhD candidate at the University of Manchester, where she is researching the potential of inter species collaboration in both performance art making and bio therapy. This research is funded by the Wellcome Trust.
Brought up in Swansea, Lizzie Lloyd is an art writer and historian. She lectures in Fine Art and Art and Visual Culture at University of the West of England. Her texts have been commissioned by Plymouth College of Art, Phoenix (Exeter), Hestercombe Gallery (Taunton), UH Galleries (Hatfield). She recently contributed to a Cubitt Education Community Studios project (London). Her writing has appeared in publications including Art Monthly, Journal of Contemporary Painting and artnet. She was writer-in-residence at Arnolfini (2016) and Plymouth (2017). She has just completed her doctoral thesis on Art Writing and Subjectivity at University of Bristol.
is a UK-based art critic, curator and art historian specialising in modern & contemporary art. She was the Steven and Elena Heinz Scholar at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, where she completed her doctorate on contemporary Indian art and nationalism and is currently an Associate Lecturer. Her book, The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today, was published by Random House, London, in 2010.