Gwymon (the Welsh name for seaweed) thrives along the coastline of Cymru (Wales), a small country perched on the Irish Sea and close to the Atlantic. Accessible and abundant, seaweed has historically played an important part in Welsh culture; most notable is the role of 'lawr' (laver in English or nori in Japanese) in Welsh cuisine, with the earliest written record of it being eaten dating back to the 12th century. The tradition of eating ‘bara lawr’ (laver bread) continues to this day.
The cultural landscapes of Cymru play an important part in the artist’s practice, which has led to this exploration of local ‘gwymon’. These works are the outcomes of an ongoing body of work; through a variety of processes and experimentation, Gwenllian familiarises herself with the qualities of various seaweeds, essentially learning through making.
Sustainably foraged along the northwest coast of Cymru, various species are separated before undergoing a process of drying, oiling, boiling, mixing, setting, pulping and stretching. It’s important for the artist to interfere as little as possible with the material itself in order to maintain its ability to biodegrade.
These particular works are wall-mounted light-boxes, using light to emphasise the translucent qualities of these kelp panels. The panels are mounted on cut-out wood imitating the tideline, and the wood itself is stained with bladderwrack dye.
Each work begins with a walk along the coastline, where Gwenllian forages various species of unrooted and washed-up seaweed; after a storm at low tide is the perfect time to do this. After returning to the studio, the seaweed is then washed in order to remove as much sand and salt as possible, and hung to dry on the washing line. Depending on the future use of the seaweed, it then goes through a varied process of oiling, boiling, mixing, setting, pulping, pressing and stretching.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Kelp, bladderwrack dye, wood.