Bedwyr Williams often draws upon the quirky banalities of his own autobiographic existence to develop his sculptures and performances. His work merges art and life with a comedic twist that is instantaneously sympathetic and relational. In Walk A Mile In My Shoes, Williams presents a display case boasting 45 pairs of used shoes. Not just any old footwear however – each bootie is Williams’s own whopping size 13.
Inviting the audience to share in his own problematics of podiatry, viewers are encouraged to try the gear on: an act that invariably relays the humour and embarrassment of floppy footed clowns and sasquatch clumsiness. The importance that each pair of shoes was purchased second hand underlies the key themes of Williams’s piece – with the knowledge that there are at least over 40 other Hobbit-pawed souls in the world – Walk A Mile In My Shoes celebrates diversity, inclusion, and community; through the simple practicalities of footwear, Williams extols the values of tolerance and individual difference.
Frieze Art Fair: The Aftermath
October 15 2012, by William Kherbek, Port
I only caught one of the performances, Bedwyr Williams’ autopsy of a humanoid curator fashioned from cake. His performance had the verve and poetry- comedy linguistic flair he’s known for, and managed to rhyme “sambuca” and “puker” to a standard of which any MC would have been proud.
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Interview with Bedwyr Williams
October 13, 2012, by Yvette Greslé, FAD
Yvette Greslé talks to Bedwyr Williams at the opening of ‘Dear Both’ at Ceri Hand Gallery www.cerihand.co.uk. The exhibition runs through to 3 November 2012. In performances that can be as astute and cutting as they are hilarious, Williams constructs stories and scenarios that play with the characters and codes of the contemporary art world, and his audiences. The comic narratives he stages and invents transport us to imaginative worlds that are as dark as they are absurd. ‘Dear Both’ incorporates performance, moving image, installations and objects.
YG: How did you come to the comedic in your work? I see traditions such as that of the ‘Fool’. What are your references?
BW: Growing up in Wales there’s a lot of myth. A lot of the stories that we were told as kids or that we read at school were myth. Not proper myths but a lot of the children’s stories were to do with fairies or goblins or something. And I think that means that I have a slightly fired up imagination in that respect. Animals that can talk or animals that get up to stuff. Altered realities. I think if you ask Irish people they’ll say the same. It’s people that have more folklore pumped into them as kids – where there’s a tradition. I was really receptive to that as a kid. It’s strange that kids are attracted to supernatural woodland type stuff. It should be creepy.
Wales in Venice: " Bedwyr Williams one of the artists of the moment"
16 October 2012, by Stephen Palmer, A-N
Bedwyr Williams discusses his project for Wales in Venice 2013 at the opening of his new show Dear Both.
The countdown to Wales in Venice/Cymru yn Fenis at next year's 55th Venice Biennale of Art notched up a gear during a preview for Bedwyr William's new show Dear Both at Ceri Hand Gallery in London. The opening was attended by the artist along with Wales in Venice curators Alfredo Cramerotti, Director of MOSTYN, and Amanda Farr, Director of Oriel Davies Gallery, as well as David Alston, Director of Arts at Arts Council of Wales, which is supporting the project.
The artist introduced his presentation for Wales in Venice via a performance titled The Astronomer that took the audience – who were asked to imagine themselves as moles – on a journey from the gallery to the house and garden of an amateur astronomer in Suffolk.
Williams said: "The performance introduces parts of the work, but I'm not giving too much away! [The work for Venice] is going to be quite site specific. In the performance I mentioned astronomy and the telescope – which although not invented there was first premiered in Venice – and terrazzo flooring, which was invented in Venice and through its pattern might be seen to reflect the structure of the universe; it's also something I noticed at the former convent (Ludoteca Santa Maria Ausiliatrice) where the show will be held. The performance was quite humorous, but probably the work for Venice isn't going to be that funny."
Moles: Bedwyr Williams
October 2012, Art Review
As starts to Frieze week go, being asked to pretend to be an adventurous mole is an auspicious one. This was Bedwyr Williams’s doing, in a performance to mark the opening of his show at Ceri Hand’s cellarlike space in Covent Garden. Surrounded by his sculptures – comedic, surreal takes on everyday items such as garden barbecues encrusted in shells, a slightly caved-in office door with a plaque reading ‘Bedwyr Williams, Head of Department’ – the artist related a wry narrative that ended in untimely death beneath the wheels of a supermarket delivery truck.
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Bedwyr Williams: Dear Both
October 2012, by Anna McNay, Interface
As Ceri Hand’s third exhibition in London, albeit in a temporary space before moving into her permanent Fitzrovia gallery in spring 2013, she is proud to welcome Bedwyr Williams, the polymath artist-cum-stand-up-comedian who will represent Wales at the Venice Biennale 2013. Anyone brave enough to venture to Covent Garden’s Monmouth Street, despite the advertising information in the form of a letter from Williams threatening to “make you eat all of your bloody dental floss from the bin,” “bop you on your bonce with your shower head until a cartoon lump forms,” and “hang you on your own back fence like a Yule wreath,” will be greeted by an eclectic mixture of photography, sculpture, film work and drawings, and, if lucky, a performance from the man himself.
Words are a key part of Williams’ work, and titles vary from straightforward and obvious descriptions, to comical, clever puns and, on occasion, scarcely veiled threats. Don’t Ever Open My Mail Again (2012), for example, consists of three circular singed doormats, and Clocsiwr (2012) (Welsh for “clogs”) displays a pair of wooden-soled white trainers on a plinth. For Bad News (2012), two black nylon kites flutter in the breeze of an electric fan, foreboding and ominous, like the sails on the ship in the tragic legend of Tristan and Iseult, whilst, on a lighter note, Research Fellow (2012) consists of a door with Williams’ name, hanging on the wall above the staircase, suggesting perhaps the nature of how he sees his own oeuvre.
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Frieze art fair-review
14th October, by Miranda Sawyer, the Guardian
I'm standing on a wooden balcony. It forms a square: slightly rickety, not too wide, not too high. Standing here is a bit like hanging in a tree house, except that where the tree should be there's a space. A space for art to take place.
Here's some now. Below us, a big man in red shoes, a red hat with floppy ears and a butcher's apron is performing an autopsy. The corpse lies on a metal trolley. It appears to be naked – you can see the sparse hairs on its chest, its spud-like genitalia – but it's wearing brown shoes and serious specs.
The man in the apron – artist Bedwyr Williams – addresses the corpse.
"Curator. Cadaver. Cake," he announces solemnly, and wields his knife.
Williams has a problem with curators and has decided to address it by cutting up a curator cake. He talks as he does so ("They celebrate their eyes with unusual spectacles because their eyes is their business…"), gradually slicing the cake to reveal its brain and other organs. It's funny, engaging, chaotic. He has a great way with words. And at the end, everyone gets a cup of tea and whichever bit of corpse they want to eat. Tim Marlow, curator and broadcaster, chows down on the penis. It looks tasty.
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Bedywr Williams stakes a position alongside artists such as William Wegman and Sean Landers, where it becomes difficult to know where the art begins and the comedy leaves off. Much of his work is performance based and uses costume, character and stand-up routines, usually autobiographical to explore themes such as provincial pathos, macho stereotyping and art-world pretentiousness. The pieces that he will show across the three venues all display his particular and poignant strain of comedy and 'performativity' that arises from a personal reflection on cultural misunderstanding and alienation.
At the ICA, Walk a mile in my shoes (2006) is both sculptural installation and self portrait. More than 40 pairs of oversize shoes, painstakingly tracked down, are displayed on a wall-based rack, in front of which are placed two benches.
"This work is about an aspect of my life that has ruined walking trips, beach holidays, weddings and football games. I have size 13 feet. Since I was 18 I have struggled with shoe availability. The choice in my size is limited. You see a shoe that you like and when the mini-foot shop assistant brings it out in a size 13 it is a strange stretched version of the smaller, original shoe. Each of the 40+ shoes in the piece have been tracked down, none were bought off the shelf. Walk a mile in my shoes is an invitation to share a little of my ongoing shoe struggle. Try them on you'll grow into them."
Bedwyr williams – biography
Bedwyr Williams was born in St Asaph, north Wales in 1974 and spent his formative years in Colwyn Bay. He graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Central St Martins School of Art in 1997 followed by a Dutch equivalent MA from Ateliers, Arnhem Following a period in London he returned to live and work in north Wales, to Rhostryfan near Caernarfon.
He makes and uses videos, photography, performance, drawing, text and the occasional stand up comedy and karaoke. He has created a number of events that are whole environments. Through this broad range of media, a strong sense of surrealistic humour and a sharp critical mind, he explores notions of what it means to be an artist born and currently living and working in north Wales.
He makes work relevant to a sense of place and belonging but simultaneously refuses to be compromised or pigeon-holed by provincial tastes or stereotypes.
He has just been awarded the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Award for Visual Art 2004 and has featured recently in a Guardian article by Adrian Searle in which he identified Bedwyr as one of seven artists in the UK who will be developing an international profile. Recent projects and exhibitions include Operation Ferrule, Ffotogallery, Cardiff; Romantic Detachment, Grizedale Arts/PS1 New York and Tyranny of the Meek, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.
Bedwyr williams – Tyranny of the Meek
As a young boy on the cusp of manhood, Bedwyr Williams became a member of his local Model Railway Club, situated in a large shed in a small village in North Wales. The evenings he lolled away there amongst the spur lines, junctions and miniature trees, provided Williams with his first taste of the rites of manhood. "It was actually at the club listening to the older members that I started drinking coffee properly," Williams recalls. "A few members would congregate by the kettle, and chairs would be drawn up. They would talk about people that I didn't know but even so I still laughed when they recalled an anecdote or two about Railway Exhibitions from long ago."
But as with life, the sweet pleasure derived from simple pastimes was fleeting. Williams' face darkens as he recalls, "These congenial evenings were tempered by a dark force: we shared the building with a snooker club." Cue-wielding muscular men who drank lager instead of instant coffee populated this other, larger part of the shed. Each model-railway enthusiast had to deferentially pass by the snooker tables on the way to their back part of the hall. "We had to wait for shots to be taken even if the shot was being taken on the other side of the table. It was a bit like a threatening manned level crossing with cue barriers," Williams recalls ruefully. "I'm not sure how I knew that the snooker players looked down on us but I remember noticing that some of our adult members were a little scared of them."