The winner of the second programme of S4C’s television series ‘Y Stiwdio Grefftau’ is Tomos Sparnon from Neath.
Tomos graduated from UWTSD’s Swansea College of Art with a BA degree in Fine Art in 2018. The brief for the program was set by the National Eisteddfod of Wales, which was to create a sculpture that celebrated past and future Eisteddfodau. The winning sculpture would be displayed on the Eisteddfod maes, starting with the Tregaron Eisteddfod, in 2021.
The competitors were given four weeks to create the work. The sculpture created by Tomos is a walking figure. The figure looks back at past Eisteddfodau but also walks forward with hope of future ones. Clay and straw were used to create the sculpture to reflect the agricultural area of Tregaron but also because we associate straw and mud with the Eisteddfod! The sculpture was placed on wheels, not only because the festival moves each year, but to show that the Eisteddfod never stands still and always moves on. The sculpture will change over time as parts of the clay falls off, and will therefore be different at each Eisteddfod. This was something Tomos wanted to convey as the Eisteddfod is never the same, and each one is different.
In response to the announcement, Tomos said: “It was a privilege to be selected to take part in ‘Y Stiwdio Grefftau’ and I was delighted when I heard the brief and found out I would be creating the sculpture for the National Eisteddfod. I was excited at the thought of all the possibilities. I did the research, drawing and clay study in my studio at home but the sculpture itself was created in my grandmother’s garage. It was a challenge at times – especially as we were in lockdown, and getting hold of materials wasn’t easy!”
Tomos says the comments made by Betsan Moses (the Eisteddfod’s Chief Executive) and Ann Catrin Evans (a sculptor and the programme’s expert) have been a great boost to his sculpture work. He added:
“Hearing Betsan Moses state that this sculpture ‘spoke to her’ meant a lot. Exhibiting at the National Eisteddfod, which is such an amazing organisation, will be an honour. I went to my first Eisteddfod when I was a year old and I’ve attended regularly since then. I have worked as a guide at Y Lle Celf and I had the privilege of exhibiting some of my paintings there at the Llanrwst Eisteddfod in 2019. To have my sculpture displayed on the Eisteddfod maes will be the icing on the cake.”
Former staff and tutors at Swansea College of Art were delighted to hear the news. Gwenllian Beynon, Senior Lecturer in Art and co-ordinator of the Welsh language at Swansea College of Art, noted:
“This is great news. It is wonderful to see our graduates succeed within the contemporary art scene in Wales. Tomos is a very talented individual and it was a pleasure to have him here at UWTSD. Huge congratulations to him on appearing on the Studio Grefftau programme and for winning the prize of course. ”
Professor Sue Williams from Swansea College of Art added: “Tomos is a great example of a how a visual artist works – with integrity, passion and commitment. Tomos is certainly one of Wales’ future artists to look out for and all os us at the Fine Art department in Swansea congratulate him on winning.”