Carmarthen School of Art student wins Osi Rhys Osmond Art Prize

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Left Hilary Rhys Osmond, and Chelsea Reilly and Chelsea’s award-winning artwork. Photo Sian Lewis

The third Osi Rhys Osmond (ORO) Art Prize was recently awarded at a moving evening celebrating the life of the Welsh artist who died in 2015.

Osi’s relatives and friends, shortlisted performers and members of the public packed Llansteffan Memorial Hall, just yards from the house and studio that was Osi’s home, for an evening of wine and food, music and lyrics, and of course appreciation for Osi’s artistry. legacy, and the promising talent nurtured and recognized by the award in his name.

As well as being one of Wales’ greatest painters, Osi was a polymath: writer, teacher, broadcaster, actor and activist, and an honorary member of the Gorsedd of Bards.

He then taught from 1988 to 1986, he was a much appreciated lecturer in the foundation course at Carmarthen School of Art, and it was to a student of this institution that the ORO Art Prize, created
in 2019, is rewarded.

New volume

The event, movingly hosted by Osi’s sons Luke and Che, also saw the launch of a new volume of writings by and about Osi, Cultural Alzheimer’s and other essays, published by the H Foundation. ‘mm. Ali Anwar, CEO of the foundation and friend of Osi, presented the book and presented the
beautiful trophy, commissioned from the glass artist Rodney Bender, to be presented to the winner.

Osi’s family members Jobe and Olivia Bruzas delivered wonderful musical interludes with songs in Welsh and English, while the family connection was completed by Osi’s wife, Hilary, pulling the ticket winning raffle for a print of one of Osi’s paintings, specially chosen by the sponsor of this year’s event,
Dr. Chris John.

Luke Osmond, himself an artist and art teacher now living in Oxford, had judged the entries with textile artist Julia Griffiths Jones, and he spoke about each of the shortlisted entries that had been produced in response to the theme “We’re talking , think, dream and stare”, a line from a poem written by Osi.

The winning entry was by Chelsea Reilly and was titled “My mind map, a neurological foundation”. At first glance, the work looks like a torn fragment of a paper doily, pinned loosely in an open frame.

Luke noted that at first the piece is unassuming, but as you get closer the paper lace resolves into words that draw the viewer in and demand close, focused attention.

calm thoughts

Chelsea meticulously cut holes in the paper leaving a tightly woven mesh of text in what she describes as “an investigation into cerebral and physical spaces and places, encouraging calm thoughts through artistic manifestations.”

“I explored the significance of places I find meaningful to me, the relevance of their calming aspects, and their impact on my resilience.”

The piece appears in a sense like a fragment of old manuscript that could crumble at any moment, but the pristine whiteness of the paper and the meticulous sharpness of the cuts that form the letters counteract this fragility with force of purpose and aesthetic beauty.

Chelsea then personally received the award at the Oriel Osi gallery in Llansteffan, where the works of the eight shortlisted artists can be seen until the end of July.

The ORO Art Prize 2022 catalog can be downloaded from the Osi Rhys Osmond website, here. Alzheimer’s and other cultural essays are available by emailing [email protected]

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Kayleen C. Rice