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Chart-topping artist swaps London Grammar for Conwy Valley

AN artist who worked with chart-topping indie band London Grammar is bringing his unique, eye-catching style to North Wales.

Llanrwst-based arts organisations Migrations has commissioned French visual artist Sébastien Preschoux to showcase his internationally-revered work in Wales for the first time.

Creating vibrant geometric thread sculptures and drawings, Sébastien previously produced artwork which featured in the video for the London Grammar track Hey Now which has been viewed 13 million times on YouTube.

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Sébastien, who has displayed his creations around the world, is creating his latest work – dubbed Mist – in woodland at Llanrwst’s Oriel Ffin y Parc Gallery which specialises in contemporary art.

The sculpture will pay homage to the area’s artistic roots and will be on display throughout August’s National Eisteddfod of Wales in Llanrwst.

Mist takes shape

Karine Décorne, Artistic Director of Migrations, the arts organisation which last year brought Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon to Llandudno, said: “Bringing an artist of Sébastien’s quality to North Wales is another real coup, not just for us here at Migrations but also for the area. Not many people know that, in the 1800s, nearby Betws y Coed was actually home to the first British artists’ colony founded by English landscape artist David Cox.

“Between 1850 and 1880, other landscape artists joined Cox in the Conwy Valley and together they drew inspiration from their surroundings. Migrations have picked up that modern-day mantle by successfully bringing yet another high-profile, international artist to the area. We have chosen an artist and a venue that we know will complement each other, threading the old and new together, raising awareness of the area’s artistic heritage and providing unique experiences for visitors.”

The challenge of working in an outdoor setting and creating a sculpture to last is second nature to Sébastien who visited North Wales a year ago to see Ffin y Parc for himself. The talented artist doesn’t make any sketches or illustrations of his work beforehand, relying instead on the setting to provide his inspiration.

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This, says Oriel Ffin y Parc Gallery owner Ralph Sanders, will mean everyone is in for a surprise.

He said: “To bring an international artist of Sébastien’s calibre to North Wales and have the opportunity to watch him create something at our gallery is amazing. I love the fact Sébastien has free rein to create what he likes and that we don’t know what that will be is all the more exciting.  The gallery – a house – was built in 1850, which links with the artists’ colony. Sebastian’s work will incorporate many of the trees here such as the 150-year-old Victorian pines so he will weave past and present together, creating a real surprise for visitors.”

Speaking from his Paris studio, Sébastien said the trees at Oriel Ffin y Parc Gallery provide a natural spot for the sculpture.

He said: “The wind throughout the trees will provide movement for the threads and create shadows which will give a different dimension and feel to the artwork. I don’t create sketches beforehand, preferring to take inspiration from where I work so only when I climb the trees will I have an idea of what Mist will look like.”

All Sébastien knows so far is the sculpture will be made from orange thread, a colour chosen to stand out against unpredictable North Wales skies.

“Orange works well at any time,” explained Sébastien. “Mist is one of the first things visitors will see, appearing like a vapour on the approach to the gallery, and orange is the colour which will work best. It stands out whatever the weather, against grey skies, blue skies, or when it’s raining. But as I don’t have any set ideas, the finished product will be as much a surprise for me as it is for the people who come to see Mist.”

Mist will be on site at Oriel Ffin y Parc Gallery from June 23 until September 1.

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