Venice Biennale: Artist Bedwyr Williams looks to space

Bedwyr Williams
Image caption Bedwyr Williams' work has been inspired by amateur astronomy

Bedwyr Williams works from a new tin shed in the garden of his home in Rhostryfan, a one-road village near Caernarfon, Gwynedd.

His selection as Wales' representative for the Venice Biennale this year has already proved popular with the critics - the London broadsheets have dispatched their finest to the Welsh countryside to peer inside his office, and hear a hint of what he has planned.

Only a large telescope, set up next to his computer, offers a clue as to the theme of his Venice exhibition.

It's the concept of the amateur astronomer that's inspired the work that will fill six rooms of a former convent later this month.

Image caption His studio is full of sketches and ideas ahead of his exhibition in Venice

"There are obvious links between Venice and astronomy - Galileo unveiled his telescope there - but it's the amateur astronomer that I've focused on," he said.

"Of all the amateur pastimes, astronomy is the one where the practitioners have an active part in the progression of that field. People at home spot comets, moons and planets."

Williams wants to celebrate the amateurs who spend their lives looking out into space.

At least one of the rooms in his exhibition will contain an observatory, while ideas of size and distance are explored with giant everyday objects in the style of Alice in Wonderland.

The world's press will get a first glimpse of his work at the end of May, before the six-month exhibition opens to the public at the beginning of June.

It's costing around £400,000 to have a Wales exhibit at this year's Biennale. The bill is being picked up by the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh government.

Williams thinks it's right for Wales to attend.

"It's kind of like the art Olympics, but without the bad dress sense," he said.

"All the other countries of the world are there as well, so it makes sense for Wales to be there.

Image caption The artist explores size and distance with everyday objects

"I think we have a tendency to be an inward-looking outfit as a country, and maybe in a way although this exhibition has no Welsh content - no red dragons or sheep - that idea of looking in and looking out is something that Welsh people ought to think about."

The artist Osi Rhys Osmond chaired the committee that selected Williams for this year's Biennale.

"In choosing an artist like Bedwyr, who is at the cutting edge of contemporary practice, we are showing the world that we are a modern mature country, that we can deal with the latest ideas, that we have people who are on a par with anyone across the international stage," he said.

"And it's a moment that Wales needs to take particular pride in.

"We are there among the best and we are showing work that will be among the most talked about work in Venice this year and, I believe, for years to come."

Bedwyr Williams And The Starry Messenger opens at the 55th Venice Biennale from June to November 2013.

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