First UK conference artist-in-residence digs deep for inspiration – creating contemporary artwork with a nod to South Wales’ industrial heritage

Swansea University’s School of Management has proudly unveiled the first piece of co-created contemporary artwork to go on permanent display at its new home at the science and innovation Bay Campus.

Low Coal - RmerThe work, entitled ‘Low Coal’ (pronounced ‘Local’), was created by Cardiff-based graffiti/aerosol artist and illustrator Rmer (pronounced ‘Armour’), real name Bradley Woods, during the recent Visit Wales An Adventure in Big Data conference, held in partnership with the School of Management.

Rmer is believed to be the UK’s first artist-in-residence at a conference, which saw 150 delegates gather at the School of Management last month to hear speakers from the USA and seven countries across Europe, from Slovenia, Flanders, Northern Ireland, Spain, Denmark and of course Wales.

Professor Terry Stevens, who leads the new International Dynamic Destinations initiative at the School of Management and who helped organise the conference, said: “The School of Management had been enthralled by the work of urban artists in the Illustrate Cardiff Project and had no hesitation commissioning one of the foremost artists involved in this project to be part of the An Adventure in Big Data conference with Visit Wales.

“Rmer was challenged to begin work on the piece as Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, began delivering the conference’s opening address and to complete the work four hours later, as the conference’s main events drew to a close.

“Rmer’s work, ‘Low Coal’, which measures 16’ x 8’ (4.88m x 2.44m) and comprises aerosol graffiti art on plywood, is now on permanent display in the School and forms the first of a new series of co-created contemporary art that will be on permanent display in the School’s new home at the Bay Campus.”

Describing the inspiration for his piece, Rmer said: “Mining Big Data was the brief for this art commission. Being Welsh I initially thought of Welsh coal miners as the main subject as this focuses of local history and business of South Wales into this piece.

“I wanted to keep the main image in grey tones to represent the past/history and the future represented by the colourful and abstract matrix inspired data symbols 0 and 1.”

Professor Marc Clement, Dean of Swansea University’s School of Management, added: “I am deeply moved by the imagery. By the obvious fear of the future starkly revealed in the miner’s eyes… a picture of a man who knows his lungs are full of coal dust and nicotine, his job is at an end and that the future of the economy of Wales will be found in some unfathomable algorithm.

“It is a moving interpretation and a remarkable achievement by Rmer. We are proud to have taken this first step in sponsoring art in this unique way.”

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