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“Discover the Valleys” Poster Art Commissions

Deadline: November 5, 2012

“Discover the Valleys” Poster Art Commissions

Groundwork Wales (on behalf of Valleys Regional Park) wish to work with ten artists to create poster designs that will encourage people to discover and reconnect with the natural environment and cultural heritage of the South Wales Valleys. In the spirit of the successful Shell-advertising campaigns, the aim is to create an iconic series of ten works of art as commercial posters which will alter perceptions of the Valleys environment. The project is also supported by Arts Council Wales.


“In the early 1930s...Shell started systematically to identify itself... with the euphoric values of nature and art ...The posters were more than a celebration of one company's enlightened and eclectic advertising policy to engender exhilaration, freedom and the joys of the countryside - they are superb pieces of art in their own right.” (John Hewitt, Head of History of Art and Design at Manchester Metropolitan University)

Although the Shell posters were commercial commissions for advertising purposes, interestingly the artists commissioned to convey the simple advertising messages were not associated with commercial art. They included the likes of Paul Nash, John Piper, Vanessa Bell, Eric Ravilious, and Graham Sutherland who went on to become famous names in contemporary art.

In the 1930s when the original Shell poster campaign was launched, the Valleys landscape was scarred and ravaged by industrial spoil heaps and waste tips. Unsurprisingly, none of the artists commissioned chose the Valleys to inspire people to discover the countryside. Nowadays, though, the hills are largely green again, rivers full of fish run clean, and visitors are often taken aback by the beautiful countryside that envelops Valleys' towns and villages. Despite that, the Valleys can still conjure negative visual connotations for those unfamiliar with them. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that almost half of Valleys’ residents do not have a relationship with their natural environment because they do not value it.

An important aim of Valleys Regional Park is to reconnect communities with their natural environment and we try to do this in innovative ways. Consequently, the ambition of the proposed poster art campaign is to challenge a group of artists to explore and portray the landscapes of the valleys through their eyes in order to stimulate, provoke and open the eyes of others. In other words, to create a new ‘iconic’ public poster campaign that will excite and inspire people to discover the landscapes of the Valleys and help change perceptions.

The Project

Groundwork Wales are looking for ten enthusiastic artists who will bring their own unique interpretation of the Valleys to the poster project. The commission is open to artists working in any media as long as it will successfully translate to a poster format that can be used in a public advertising campaign. (This includes fine artists, craft designer makers, graphic designers, and digital artists.)

The selected artists will be given time to research and visit areas in the Valleys. We do not wish to steer the artists towards the well-known views and landmarks in this brief, but rather to allow artists to decide for themselves which sites, particular landscapes, or landmarks have inspired them. The landscape itself may be the primary subject, or it may be the backdrop to the people who live there, or the context within which certain activities and events take place.

With ten artists working separately, there will need to be close liaison early on in the process regarding initial ideas and locations to avoid duplication. A concept or sketch design will need to be approved before artists can proceed to create the final artwork.

The posters will need to incorporate text and there will be a typographer available to assist artists should they wish, but artists will be able to design the text as part of their artwork if they prefer.

The original artworks will be digitised and printed as posters to be displayed in train stations throughout the Valleys and beyond. There will also be an exhibition of the original artworks at Bedwellty House and Park in Tredegar in the autumn of 2013 with other exhibitions being sought. The costs associated with digitising the original artwork, working with a typographer and delivering the exhibition (framing, transport etc.) are covered by a separate budget and do not come out of the artist's budget.

At the end of the project, the original artworks will be owned by Groundwork Wales, on behalf of Valleys Regional Park, who will have the copyright to use them for the posters and associated marketing products (e.g. postcards). An agreement regarding usage will be drawn up between the artists selected and Groundwork Wales upon agreeing the commission.

Community involvement

To raise awareness and engage local people in the project we would like to organise a series of school and community workshops linked with the theme of the project. We are keen for participants to learn new skills through the workshops, in terms of approach or technique in creating art (e.g. printmaking skills, using digital art software, textile skills). We would prefer quality than quantity and for a small group to have an in depth and worthwhile experience, rather than many people to have a superficial experience. Up to four of the selected artists' will be asked to deliver a series of workshops locally to the site they have selected, at local primary schools or community groups. We envisage each artist offering the equivalent of five days of workshops. One of the four artists will deliver their workshops at Bedwellty House and Park during the exhibition period in the autumn of 2013 (during the October half term). They will be able to select output from the workshops to display in the exhibition.


Groundwork Wales will be short-listing soon after the deadline for applications and interviewing in the w/c 22nd October.  Artists will have several weeks to research and select their subject. We aim to have all the artwork finalised to be digitised and printed as posters by July 2013.
Community workshops will also take place before July 2013 and dates will be arranged in consultation with the artist.


There is a fee of £1500 (inclusive of VAT if artists are VAT registered) per artist to create an artwork for a poster. For those artists also facilitating workshops, there is an additional fee of £900 to prepare and deliver 5 days of workshops (this must include all costs associated with the workshops including travel and materials).


A short-list of artists will be selected for interview, where you will have the opportunity to present your portfolio (and your approach to delivering workshops if applying for that additional work). The selection panel will consist of Mererid Velios, Osi Osmond (and possibly another representative from the visual arts community) and David Llewellyn for Valleys Regional Park. Ten artists will be selected and contracted to create original artwork for a poster.

To Apply

Please send a CD with images of your work as a powerpoint or pdf along with a CV and letter briefly outlining your interest in the project. Artists who wish to be considered for the community workshops also need to highlight their experience of delivering workshops and outline their approach. If short-listed, artists who wish to deliver workshops will need to develop a proposal for the workshop element of the brief to present at interview.

Send applications to Celfwaith, 7 Pontfaen, Cardiff, CF23 7DU
Email applications will also be accepted as long as attachments to do not exceed 10MB, to [email protected]

Deadline for applications: Monday 5th November 2012

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