Talented young printmaker wins top award

A talented young North Wales designer currently taking the luxury fashion world by storm has just landed a prestigious award.

Gethin Ceidiog Hughes, 26, from Denbigh, has added to his widespread acclaim by scooping the coveted Eirian Llwyd Memorial Award to honour artists who have shown outstanding dedication and creative talent in their field of printmaking.

At the same time, his striking new range of woven silk scarves  is selling well in high-end boutiques and shops after being launched last year.

Eirian Llwyd, the wife of former Plaid Cymru leader and Deputy First Minister of Wales Ieuan Wyn Jones, was herself a distinguished printmaker and founder of Y Lle Print Gwreiddiol – The Original Print Place – on Anglesey.

Following her death at the age of 63 in 2014, her family and the Arts Council of Wales set up a memorial trust in her name to provide financial awards for new and upcoming Welsh artists who specialise in the medium of printmaking.

Gethin is only the third winner of the annual award which carries a cash bonus of up to £2,500 to allow artists to develop and continue their printmaking practice by purchasing new equipment or working on new projects.

Nominations for the award come from the curators of galleries or managers of print centres across Wales and it’s judged by a panel of experts including the Arts Council of Wales’ Portfolio Manager for Visual and Applied Arts, a development officer and a national adviser with expertise in visual arts.

Gethin, who completed his MA at the famous Cardiff School of Art and Design and has rapidly established a formidable reputation as a photographer and printmaker, said the money would help finance new developments and projects.

His range of women’s scarves which are proving such a hit with fashion conscious buyers are based on geometric patterns inspired by the work of Russian painter Kazimir Malevich.

All six designs, which Gethin is marketing under the brand Wilding, which is his mother’s middle name, are derived from Malevich’s iconic 1915 painting Black Square and are variations on the same theme of black and white squares.

He turned to a traditional silk weaving mill in Halifax, West Yorkshire, to have them woven ready for the shops using the traditional weaving process.

Aimed at the luxury end of the market, the scarves retail at £200.

Gethin said: “Things have been going very well and I’ve had lots of positive feedback so far. The scarves are available at boutiques and other high-end outlets across North Wales and northern England.

“I’ve been so busy with the scarves project that I’d almost forgotten that Philip Hughes, the director of Ruthin Craft Centre, had entered me for the Eirian Llwyd Memorial Award.

“This is the first award I’ve ever entered and to win is just fantastic. It was also totally unexpected as I know there such a talented pool of artists to choose from.

The presentation took place during the Creative Conversations event hosted by the Arts Council of Wales at the Volcano Theatre in Swansea.

He added: “I’m very proud to have won such a respected award, especially as I’m one of the first few recipients, and the money I’ll receive as part of it will come as a big and welcome boost to me.

“It will allow me to take my career to the next level. As an artist finding funds is always difficult but this will give me a really good kick-start and push in the right direction.

“It will enable me to do different types of work and to think about new designs and projects. So for me it’s definitely now a case of onwards and upwards.

”I feel hugely honoured that the award is in memory of Eirian Llwyd who was a remarkably talented printmaker who also did so much to promote the medium, as well as providing opportunities for artists in Wales.

Before he came up with the scarves, a landmark artistic project for Gethin came in 2016 when he produced a series of screen prints to visually tell the story behind tracks from a new album by Bristol band Dr Meaker, recently feted as the UK’s hottest live dance act.

In the world of photography Gethin has had assignments for every major event music promoter in Cardiff, which gave him the opportunity to picture a string of major international DJs and music bosses, including the legendary drum and bass producer Goldie.

Examples of Gethin’s powerful work have been published in Complex Magazine, Drum & Bass Arena, Wales Online, BBC Wales and also in regional newspapers.

In 2015 he staged his first photographic exhibition at which he showcased his work as part of the international Diffusion Festival.

This exposure sparked off a boom in his projects, including the Sunfall Festival in London and his collaboration with Dr Meaker.

More recently Gethin has trained with artists and printers as part of the Proof Scholarship scheme at the Regional Print Centre which is part of Coleg Cambria in Wrexham.

Gethin was nominated for the Eirian Llwyd Memorial Ward by Philip Hughes, who runs the Ruthin Craft Centre.

He said: “Gethin is a particularly interesting and innovative young artist designer with a distinctive talent and I’m delighted that he has won this award.

“He has achieved much since he graduated and gained a wealth of relevant expertise to achieve his ambitions.

“He has pursued all the opportunities that have been offered to him including developing commissioned work alongside his own practice. He is now at an important point in his early career and beginning to establish his practice in Wales.

“His recent work is a journey of exploration, at first using silk-screen, but now moving in to etching.

“I believe he has considerable talent. His prints exude a vibrant and joyful use of colour coupled with vital abstract mark-making.”

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