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Venice Biennale 2017: James Richards to represent Wales

By Huw Thomas
BBC Wales arts and media correspondent

image copyrightThor Brodreskift
image captionJames Richards will be creating his work with Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff

The video artist James Richards from Cardiff will represent Wales at the Venice Biennale 2017.

The international art event takes place in the Italian city every other year, and attracts the world's best artists, curators and agents.

James Richards is already well-known on the UK art scene, having been nominated for the Turner Prize in 2014.

He told BBC Wales it was "a real honour" to be selected to represent Wales in Venice.

Richards will work with Cardiff's Chapter arts centre to create an installation in a former convent on the banks of one of Venice's famous canals.

"It's really exciting, it's a real honour. It's always touching when people nominate you for something, particularly this.

"I grew up around the corner from Chapter so a lot of my first experiences with art were there, so it was a very exciting invitation."

Born and brought up in Cardiff, Richards now lives in Berlin where his work focuses on archive video, sound and still images.

It includes fragments of cinema, stray camcorder footage and murky late night TV shows.

Richards said exhibiting in Venice was "a really big deal".

"People who like art, for the seven months or so that it's on will flock to see it. It's a presentation of work that so many people see.

"Curators, museum directors, gallery staff and writers all attend, so it's a very important thing that happens every two years in the global art calendar."

Since 2003 Wales has been making its own submission to the Biennale. It costs around £400,000 to stage the Welsh exhibition, which will run from May to November next year.

Previous artists to represent Wales in Venice include Helen Sear, Bedwyr Williams and John Cale.

image copyrightAnnik Wetter
image captionJames Richards's work Raking Light
image copyrightMark Blower
image captionJames Richards's Cabinet
image copyrightThor Brodreskift
image captionJames Richards's installation at Bergen, and Rosebud (right)

Richards said he will shortly make his first visit to the exhibition space in Venice.

"We are going next week to visit the building that we will use for the exhibition," he said.

"It's a multi-room venue, so I am really excited about creating a number of works that will sit together like a musical suite, in harmony, and people can move between them.

"The building itself becomes a starting point, and then I will start experimenting in the studio and gathering footage."

image copyrightJames Richards/Tate
image captionRosebud, video still. Richards was nominated for the Turner Prize at the Tate in 2014

Richards added: "I am working with some musicians and composers on some new musical material which is a process I am really excited to start, and to find a way of including the music I am composing in collaboration with the musicians into the piece. And then I will start doing archival research and really build the show from there. "

Phil George, Arts Council Wales chairman, called Richards "an exciting and significant Welsh artist".

''His installation will bring a distinctive and remarkable talent to the attention of galleries and curators worldwide and show the contemporary edge of Welsh creativity to the thousands of visitors to the Biennale," he said.

The exact details of Richards's exhibition will remain secret until the Venice Biennale opens in May 2017.

Related Topics

  • Art
  • Cardiff

More on this story

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  • Turner Prize 2014: Cardiff-born James Richards tipped