The Being Human Festival wrapped up another successful year Saturday, Nov. 25 with Bernard Mitchell's launch of 'Pieces of a Jigsaw: Portraits of Artists and Writers of Wales'. The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery held a packed room to hear Bernard's anecdotes about the great Welsh writers and artists he photographed, including Ceri Richards and Daniel Jones.
The event was a celebration of Bernard as much as it was of Welsh art and writing, with his son giving the introduction, his daughter snapping photos, and his grandson videotaping. Professor Gwyn Thomas of Swansea University, shared about the importance of Bernard's work against the backdrop of failed attempts to capture Welsh literary heritage — like the lack of any video footage of Dylan Thomas. Bernard's archive ensured that trend would not continue.
The book, 'Pieces of a Jigsaw' features 120 Welsh writers and artists, selected from an archive of more than 1,000 that Bernard compiled over the past 50 years. Bernard shared how the composer Daniel Jones felt more relaxed in the local pub, hiding from his work and wife, while the young photographer snapped photos between pints. The portraits ignited the screen behind him, each one carrying a depth of feeling unique to that artist and distinct to Bernard's ability to stage a photo to accentuate this depth.
Bernard mentioned some portrait subjects had died since his project began, one artist passed away only a month after he took the photo. It underscored his sense of urgency for the project, and his devotion to create a comprehensive archive.
After the talk, there was a Q&A then the audience migrated to a side-room where the art gallery provided tea and coffee while the audience mingled with the author and each other. Bernard was busy signing copies of the book that many curiously thumbed through. The project felt like a fitting end to the Being Human Festival, a celebration of how we interact with other people and how this interaction influences who we are.
A video excerpt of the event can be viewed below: