Kyle Legall on becoming National Theatre Wales' first artist of the year

Friday 8 March 2013, 16:43

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At the moment it seems very fashionable for organisations to have their own artists in residence.

Everywhere from airports, hotels and businesses to the Welsh Rugby Union are doing it, and now National Theatre Wales has appointed its own creative talent to produce visual art for the company throughout 2013.

Kyle Legall, 38, is well known in Butetown, Cardiff and further afield for his graffiti commissions, but he has also made some impressive forays into animation, music, storytelling and graphic design.

Kyle Legall National Theatre Wales' new artist in residence Kyle Legall. Photo courtesy of the artist

I caught up with him soon after his involvement in National Theatre Wales' most recent production De Gabay, which took place last Sunday at various locations in Butetown.

The site-specific venture celebrated the story of the area's Somali residents, and its community of young poets, and saw Kyle create a street mural and give a live MCing performance.

He told me he hopes his collaboration with the theatre will raise awareness about his particular blend of multi-disciplinary art while acting as a springboard for creative output.

Kyle said: "This is a dream job for me because it gives me the freedom to use all my skills, and express myself across several platforms.

"It will be my first residency, and to be able to do it in my home town is particularly exciting."

Hassan Panero in De Gabay Hassan Panero in De Gabay. Photo: Dan Green/National Theatre Wales

Kyle's aim, by the end of the year, is to create an exhibition using street performance and animation.

He is currently working on a creation called The Butetown Rats, which was commissioned by Arts Council Wales and features music and animation and involves Rhys Ifans, Super Furry Animals and Butetown musicians.

"It's the name of a musical band and accompanies a comic strip, Rats Rose Against the System, and I am hoping to make a film as a supplement.

"In the animation, which I am hoping to prompt debate on via Twitter, the rats explore issues like terrorism and the environment."

He also plans to work with staff at National Theatre Wales via workshops on street art and graffiti.

His ideas will feed into decisions about programming, about the future of the company, and about how to support other artists.

Kyle has loved painting ever since he was a child but says he has never created graffiti illegally; all of his murals have been commissions.

He hopes to have some involvement with creating visual effects for the upcoming NTW production of Praxis Makes Perfect, conceived by Neon Neon's Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip and playwright Tim Price.

Neon Neon, photo by Mark James Neon Neon: Gruff Rhys and Boom Bip. Photo: Mark James

"I think it's brilliant that the theatre company’s doing an artist in residence programme as it’s important to represent the visual arts alongside their work.

"I'm really looking forward to creating a buzz around their work and the work I create via Facebook and Twitter."

National Theatre Wales' Artist of the Year initiative was launched in December 2012, with the aim of finding an artist of any discipline with an established body of work, to contribute to the life of the company.

Artistic Director John McGrath said: "We had a fantastic response to our first Artist of the Year call-out – with artists ranging from video-makers to theatre directors, from poets to lighting designers putting forward amazing applications.

"Our shortlist of six extraordinary artists would each have engaged with us in unique creative ways over the year.

"In the end, though, we chose Kyle because of the fantastic range of skills and experience he will bring to the company, his unique imagination, his personal warmth and his great sense of fun."

More information about Kyle can be found at kylelegall.com and you can follow his creations on Twitter @kylelegall.

For more information on National Theatre Wales' shows, visit nationaltheatrewales.org.

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