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Iwan Bala and Menna Elfyn
8 June – 31 August 2013

Artist Iwan Bala and poet Menna Elfyn bring words and images together in a creative dialogue that explores their interest in language, identity and place in a special exhibition at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth between 8 June and 31 August 2013.

Field-notes is a collaborative exhibition between artist Iwan Bala and poet Menna Elfyn. For over a year, fragments of Elfyn’s poems, lists of Welsh place names, family names, critical essays and other scattered references have inspired and sustained Bala’s drawings. Presented as a study in progress, these ink soaked, scratched out, torn and broken words express a defiant austerity - a metaphor for the fragility of marginalised languages - no matter how much they are rubbed down, wiped away, left to wither, they continue to prevail.

Jaimie Thomas, Exhibitions Officer at The National Library of Wales said:

‘We are delighted to host such a thought-provoking exhibition of work by two of Wales' most high-profile artist's Menna Elfyn and Iwan Bala. The exhibition is very pertinent to the Library, particularly the strong links with Welsh cultural heritage and the notion of shared knowledge of communities.’

Elfyn’s words and phrases are illuminated by Bala with blunt charcoal, crumbling chalk and bamboo ink pens, creating lines of letters that suggest a slipping seepage. They allude to our connection to, as well as our inexorable separation from the places that surround us in this increasingly globalised society. Throughout the exhibition, words disappear and resurface between ink stains and chalk dust in a process similar to the poet’s forging of a poem. Their struggle to be seen and read is akin to the poet’s process of thinking, note making, writing and re-writing, the effort to identify the best words to use. <the> </the>

Meg Anthony of Oriel Myrddin Gallery said:

‘It has been a pleasure to work with Iwan Bala and Menna Elfyn. I would like to thank them sincerely for their initiative and sensitivity in conceiving and delivering Field-notes. ‘

Further Information

Elin – Hâf, Press Office 01970 632534 or

Gallery Talk
Field-notes: Iwan Bala
Friday 26 July 1.15 p.m.