Gold Medals for Fine Art and Craft and Design awarded

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Simon Fenoulhet and Natalia Dias have been awarded the Gold Medals for Fine Art and Craft and Design respectively at the 2010 National Eisteddfod of Wales.

Artist Simon Fenoulhet from Cardiff scooped the medal plus £3,000 for his light installations Vivid Seam and Line Upon Line, having not previously exhibited at the National Eisteddfod.

He said: "I use light as my primary means of presenting and changing the objects I employ. Glowing tubes or straws can be transformed by the simple act of making the light come from within rather than reflecting off the surface.

"They stand in isolation from their surroundings as the only source of illumination and take on a beauty and iridescence that is not normally associated with household objects."

Another Eisteddfod newcomer, Nerea Martinez de Lecea - who is based in the Rhondda, was awarded £2,000 in the Fine Art section for her still and moving images.

This year's visual arts exhibition, Y Lle Celf, is situated in the stack annealer basement - one of the underground buildings that used to hold the heavy steel rolling machines at the former steelworks site.

Meanwhile, Cardiff-based Portugese artist Natalia Dias collected the Gold Medal for Craft and Design, along with £3,000, for her collection of allegorical ceramic works. It is also the first time that the artist has exhibited at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

Selector John Selway commented: "Natalia Dias' ceramics are probably the most visceral and beautiful pieces of work that I have seen in this medium in a long time."

Originally from Portugal, Dias studied Restoration and Decorative Studies at Portsmouth University before gaining a degree in ceramics at Cardiff School of Art and Design in 2009.

"This body of work is a surreal mix of fact and fantasy," said the artist. "These desirable objects - visceral candy and religious innuendo - have been inspired by the flamboyant 16th century French Palissy Ware. Adopted later, around the 19th century, by Portuguese artists, this longstanding tradition is now in threat of extinction.

"I am now drawing my own cultural identity closer to the art education that I have received in Wales and creating ceramic hybrids from both influences."

Pembrokeshire studio jeweller Paul Preston was also awarded £2,000 in the Craft and Design section.

Read more about the arts medals on the BBC Eisteddfod website.

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