Upstairs at The Art Shop

Trace the threads of ideas developed through the isolation of lockdown between eight artists – drawings, photography, video, projection and mixed media by…


‘The group of us, two poets and six visual artists, had been involved in planning an event around the Mari Lwyd  tradition to be presented in January of this year and we were all finding it difficult to work without the stimulus of talking to others about our ideas. We began this project to find a way to feed our imaginations and keep working.

Each of us produced a piece of work about Covid and sent it to someone else in the group. We then made work responding to the piece we had been sent and sent it on to another member of the group. Every three weeks we received a piece of work from someone and in turn sent a piece on to someone else. We also meet every two weeks on Zoom to talk about what we were doing.

This exhibition is the result. You can trace the different threads of developing ideas by finding and following the tracking number of each piece of work. So AN1 leads on to AN2 and so on. Some of the work may have been made just before or just after the project but is linked by a developing idea. These pieces do not have a tracking number. You can work out the connection yourself.

Ideas don’t arrive readymade, courtesy of the Muse. They grow out of an idle chat over coffee, a remark overheard on a bus, a worn inscription in a church, a seagull’s skull found on the beach, a conversation in a pub and all these moments when an idea might grow, these starting points, have not occurred thanks to covid.‘   Allison Neal 2021



ANN DRYSDALE – is a poet and author and, via Manchester, Birmingham and the North York Moors now lives in the industrial foothills of the Brecon Beacons. Amongst other things, she wrote a long-running by-line column for the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Farming page on the South Wales Argus.  She has won many prizes for her writing and published several poetry collections and non-fiction books, including a two-part memoir described by Professor Raymond Tallis as ‘a masterpiece’. Her writing grows out of a sensitive and very acute observation of places and of human nature.

JOHN EXTON – often works in pen and ink, illustrating a private world of myth and legend. He sees the work as ‘A Bestiary For our Times’. He uses a plethora of stimulus to produce his illustrations, including the Medieval world, dreams, journeys into the subconscious and Magic, Mystery and Folklore.

SUE EXTON – is a sculptor using found materials. She firmly believes not only that we should reduce – reuse – recycle but that there is no such thing as rubbish. Her work is a direct response to the discarded, which results in an eclectic mix of pieces reflecting the materials she uses. The inspiration for her work comes from Myths, Legends, Folklore and the natural world.

CAROLINE HOLT-WILSON  her works reflect not only the time invested but the nature of their assemblage – knitting, weaving, rolling and sticking – offering equally the opposite implication: the possibility of disassembly and its associations with the cyclical nature of things.

LIZ MORISON – makes films, objects for performance and 3D installations. Recently she has been playing with materials that seduce and comfort, inviting the observer to interact with objects and installations. She juxtaposes the absurd and the uncanny, sensuality and ambivalence in a game with anyone who will play.

ALLISON NEAL  – is fascinated by the connection between text and image and the possibility of telling stories. layers of time and memory and history wrap round our lives and touch and fold over and round each other.  Every fold, every gesture, leaves a trace, a memory, a connection, a story.

FRANK OLDING – a Welsh poet, writing in Welsh. His poetry is rooted in the magical relationship between history and mythology, between land and legend. Frank has published two collections of poetry and is a member of the Gorsedd of Bards.

CATHERINE WYNNE-PATON – wonders what can be learnt when we look first at what our own movements and actions can tell us about what we already know yet can’t quite access.  She sees the body as a living archive, a bank of experience-based knowledge and she is curious about how it might be used to understand the world. Her work involves collecting, sifting and responding to words using a multidisciplinary approach.