The structure at the centre of the exhibition is modest in its demands – it is there for us to use, to sit at, to meet at, to drink tea at. The sculpture now functions as a table, albeit an unusually shaped one – but its original form had a different function. Its design is taken from a simple aluminium jig from one of the workshops she has been visiting, scaled up for a different use.
There are several elements here that could be read as one whole in order to understand some of the many references that Meehan makes. The mugs from which we drink have also been produced by her - and they are to be used. Often when ceramics are displayed in a gallery it is unusual to be able to drink from them. Once they are displayed, usually under glass, their usability is stripped away. Here they are an accompaniment to conversation. They all bear short soundbite sentences as questions, advice or guidance.
Also on the table is an edition of guides for colourwashing, taking it’s text from both a ‘Brynmawr Bulletin’ as well as the artists handbooks. It has been put into practice on the green wall behind us and there are fragments of documentation of the processes and the lineage of the green that she has chosen. The Brynmawr Experiment is an important reference point for Meehan. It was a Quaker initiative during the 30s to re-train and revive an area severely hit by the depression, a point when industry and artisan skills came together.
Meehan's practice is ecclectic in its source research; the fragments that inform all of the elements have come out of a longer dialogue. It is not an accident that her work is situated outside the library, a space which she was resident in during 2016 and which she helped shape. Her work continues there with a simple looped film of the threshold of an industrial space in use.
The key to understanding the work might be found in the slogan on the floor from an instruction guide to navvying: Never stand square to your work, always half facing it (at an angle of forty-five degrees).
From painting to painting and decorating, from town planning to gallery architecture, Lydia is interested in the idea of people as artists, reviewing their processes and outputs as both artwork and civic engagement combined. In A Template for Application, Lydia brings together archive material, and observations of her everyday environments, to explore these ideas.
Lydia Meehan has been supported by a production grant from the Arts Council Of Wales.