Oriel Myrddin - Engaging with art, craft & design

Wales has a rich history in visual arts and traditional crafts and nowhere is that more celebrated than Oriel Myrddin Gallery. Carmarthenshire’s publicly funded centre for contemporary visual art, craft and design is a place to engage with contemporary ideas through a unique and culturally diverse programme of the visual and applied arts and features local artists and craftspeople in a contemporary exhibition space that is about to undergo a major redevelopment.


Oriel Myrddin Gallery
Formerly the arts school, the building dating from 1892, was bought by the local community and Oriel Myrddin Gallery was founded 30 years ago. It is now under the umbrella of the local authority with the central purpose of bringing a high quality programme of the visual and applied arts to West Wales. The gallery exhibition programme includes art collectives, solo artists and touring shows and the shop is home to pieces from some of the finest contemporary craftspeople and artists currently working in Wales and the UK.

Peter Bodenham exhibition - Sea Vessel 2020
From this Spring/Summer, Oriel Myrddin Gallery will close its current location for a year while a major programme of works is underway. In planning for several years, the redevelopment will expand the existing exhibition space and shop; include an additional, smaller gallery; increase the educational space; and provide a café. The gallery’s important work will continue offsite at Carmarthen Museum, via pop ups, through workshops in schools and after school clubs. Oriel Myrddin Gallery is excited to return in their new guise and continue teaching and promoting art and craft in the region.

Screen printing at Oriel Myrddin Gallery - image credit: Heather Birnie
We spoke with Emma Baker, Oriel Myrddin Gallery’s educator, about the gallery, her role and the exciting challenges ahead. Emma is a multi-disciplinary artist and was a secondary school art teacher in London before moving to West Wales and a more peaceful, less stressful way of life a few years ago.

Image credit: Heather Birnie
It was apparent in our conversation with Emma that 'place' is incredibly important in engendering a sense of creativity in everything we do. To have access to nature, open spaces and beautiful vistas is a huge part of nurturing and fostering creativity in others.

A pot with a view - trig point at the summit of Frenni Fawr (and also the view from the CraftCourses office!) - photo by Emma Baker
Emma teaches in a number of settings including an Art & Design GCSE for home-educated children at the National Botanic Gardens in Wales. With some helpful funding from Carmarthenshire County Council, Emma teaches children aged 13-15 years in a suitably creative space surrounded by natural beauty and landscape.

We asked Emma what she felt the children gained from being home-educated and she believes that they benefit from avoiding the usual ‘pathways’ in traditional education settings, preferring to choose the subjects that they like. This is particularly important to those students who may find the less vocational subjects unsuited to their natural skills and ways of learning.

Preparing to Raju some pottery - photo by Emma Baker
We asked Emma if she could sum up what the move to West Wales and her role as educator for Oriel Myrddin Gallery has meant to her.

Pottery workshop in full swing! - photo by Emma Baker
"I think of it as giving me all the amazing bits of teaching that I love. It has allowed me to focus on what I love about art; focus on teaching the kids; and know that the kids are passionate about it too."

Pottery mushrooms made with Canolfan Elfed at QE High for the Blaguro project - photo by Emma Baker
At CraftCourses.com we recognise and value highly all creative endeavours and when they are happening in our own 'back yard' it is particularly inspiring. Oriel Myrddin Gallery's commitment to promoting traditional, heritage crafts in an innovative and contemporary way speaks to all of us of a collective will to preserve, promote and pursue these timeless and valuable endeavours.

We are playing our part in those endeavours with thousands of creative courses and workshops all across the UK, many of them traditional and heritage crafts. We are continuously striving to add more workshops and learning experiences so that we have something for everyone, everywhere, to meet our vision of enhancing lives and wellbeing through crafting.

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