Photograph by Adrian Sherratt; Installation of Undo Things Done, 2019, Sean Edwards, © Jamie Woodley

Tŷ Pawb will be the first UK gallery to host a touring exhibition from one of the world’s most prestigious art shows later this February.

Wales in Venice is designed to be a platform for visual art from Wales at one of the world’s most prestigious art exhibitions, La Biennale, held in Venice every two years.

For the 2019 Biennale, Cardiff based artist Sean Edwards was chosen as the Wales in Venice artist.

His solo exhibition, Undo Things Done, was on show at the beautiful Santa Maria Ausiliatrice church in Venice for 6 months during La Biennale.

A “landmark moment” for Tŷ Pawb and Wrexham

So how is Tŷ Pawb involved?

You may have read the fantastic news earlier this year that Tŷ Pawb had been chosen as lead organisation for this year’s Wales in Venice.

This means that the Wales in Venice 2019 exhibition, Undo Things Done, will be coming to Tŷ Pawb in February – the first UK venue on the exhibition’s tour.

This will be a landmark moment for Wrexham’s multi-award winning markets, arts and community facility.

The exhibition will be reconfigured from the very particular context of the Santa Maria Ausiliatrice in Venice, where artworks were installed across the interlocking rooms of the former convent, now school and community centre.


Undo Things Done – ‘evoking a way of living familiar to a great many people’

Undo Things Done takes as its starting point Edwards’ experience of growing up on a council estate in Cardiff in the 1980s, capturing and translating what he calls a condition of ‘not expecting much’ into a shared visual language; one that evokes a way of living familiar to a great number of people.

As part of the presentation in Wrexham which includes Welsh quilts, prints, sculpture and film, the artist is reworking Refrain, 2019.

Refrain is a radio play written for the artist’s mother co-produced by National Theatre Wales performed by the artist’s mother Lily Edwards.

This radio play, which was at the heart of the Venice exhibition, was performed live daily during the Biennale, streamed from her flat in Cardiff to the Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice 2019 venue Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, Castello. Refrain weaves Lily Edwards’ biography, growing up in a Northern Irish Catholic Children’s Home and her subsequent life in Wales, with found materials and Sean Edwards’ memories from childhood.

Edwards will adapt the specially commissioned version of Refrain produced by John Norton and Martin Williams which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 17 December 2019.

Floods in Venice

Edwards’ presentation Undo Things Done in Venice received 22,000 visitors during the run of  La Biennale di Venezia however, along with a number of other official presentations, drew to an early close due to unprecedented flooding across the city.

The floods affected a significant steel and wood work in parallel with the past i-iv, 2019 which has been removed from the tour with new works instead added by the artist as the tour progresses. As an artist who always adapts every exhibition to its new context these changes have been absorbed into Edwards own working process.

New venue announced for the tour

After Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham, the exhibition moves on in summer to the Senedd, home of the National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff, a new venue for the tour with the work returning to the city where it was made and where Edwards lives.

The tour then concludes in November 2020 at Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice 2019 project partner Bluecoat, Liverpool where Edwards will create a further iteration of Undo Things Done spanning Bluecoat’s four gallery spaces.

In this presentation, the artist will interweave new and older works that resonate with the same sense of autobiography in Undo Things Done, including his 2011 single channel video, Maelfa which was shot in a 1970s shopping centre on the Llanedeyrn estate where Edwards grew up.

Edwards’ emotionally resonant body of work for Undo Things Done – film, sculptures, prints and Welsh quilts – will expand and develop with the tour. Known for his sculptural approach to the everyday, Edwards often begins with seemingly unrelated elements linked by autobiographical and cultural connections.

Through investigative processes including time spent in local archives, museums and libraries, he gathers together images, stories, quotes, and clips. It is in the teasing out of these things in the studio, in isolating, abstracting, and bringing them together, that their political and formal resonance comes into play.

Wrexham ‘flying the flag for Welsh arts’

Lead Member for Communities, Partnerships, Public Protection and Community Safety, Clr Hugh Jones, said: “It has been a huge honour for Tŷ Pawb to be lead organisation for Wales in Venice 2019 and we are thrilled that Wrexham is going to be the first destination on the 2020 tour of Sean Edwards’ moving and poignant exhibition.

“Wales in Venice plays a huge role in flying the flag for Welsh arts at one of the World’s most prestigious art exhibitions and we are delighted to be bringing some of that international limelight to Wrexham and Tŷ Pawb.”

Save the dates

  • Undo Things Done opens at Tŷ Pawb on Friday February 18. Exhibition runs until Sunday April 26.
  • The exhibition then travels to Senedd National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff (July 26 – September 9, 2020) and Bluecoat, Liverpool (November 6, 2020 – March 14, 2021).

Undo Things Done is presented by guest curator Marie-Anne McQuay together with lead organisation Tŷ Pawb and is commissioned by Arts Council of Wales, marking the ninth Biennale Arte presentation by Wales. National Theatre Wales are the co-producers of Refrain. The tour of Undo Things Done is kindly supported by Art Fund and Colwinston Charitable Trust.

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