man with glasses wearing grey jumper sitting down
Sean Edwards ©

Antonio Zazueta Olmos

Sean Edwards represents Wales in Venice 2019.

Edwards’ exhibition Undo Things Done marks the ninth Biennale presentation by Wales. 11 May - 24 November 2019. 

British Council Wales is proud to support the Arts Council of Wales in having a continued Welsh presence at the Venice Biennale. This year’s exhibition delivered by Llanedeyrn artist Sean Edwards, curated by Wrexham’s Tŷ  Pawb with support from guest curator Marie-Anne McQuay, showcases brilliant Welsh art to the world. 

Sean Edwards (b.1980) represents Wales in Venice 2019 with a solo exhibition, Undo Things Done, presented by guest curator Marie-Anne McQuay and lead organisation Tŷ Pawb. Commissioned by Arts Council of Wales for the Collateral Event of the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Edwards’ exhibition marks the ninth Biennale presentation by Wales.

The exhibition will be at Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, Castello from 11 May to 24 November 2019 and is free to visit. Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-6pm (Closed Mondays) Refrain, a live radio play is performed at 2pm every day.

Directions for Santa Maria Ausiliatrice, Fondamenta San Gioachin, Castello

Sean Edwards' exhibition

Edwards’ exhibition, a poetic inquiry into place, politics and class, intertwined with personal histories, is the artist’s first major presentation at an international biennale.

Known for his sculptural approach to the everyday, Edwards often begins with seemingly unrelated elements linked by autobiographical and cultural connections. These range from the 1970s shopping centre near the housing estate where he grew up to Springsteen’s album Nebraska, a Welsh quilting group, snooker, tabloid newspapers, and various found materials. Through investigative processes including time spent in local archives, museums and libraries, he gathers together images, stories, quotes, and clips. It is in the teasing out of these things in the studio, in isolating, abstracting, and bringing them together, that their political and formal resonance comes into play.

Edwards’ solo show for Wales in Venice, Undo Things Done, includes sculpture, film, prints, Welsh quilts and a live daily radio broadcast, and takes its starting point from the artist’s experience of growing up on a council estate in Cardiff in the 1980s. Edwards is interested in capturing and translating what he calls a condition of ‘not expecting much’ into a shared visual language; one that evokes a way of living familiar to a great number of people; of making do and getting by.

The works are installed across the interlocking rooms of the Santa Maria Ausiliatrice where the church, corridors and classrooms have been left largely untouched. Signs of wear and everyday use have been deliberately incorporated into the staging of the show. Edwards is drawn to these traces that reflect the passing of time: days lived according to the rituals of mass and the timetable of a school; the quiet stories.


Edwards’ new time-based commission, a live play for radio entitled Refrain produced in partnership with National Theatre Wales, also leaves its own haunting residue in the building. The live broadcast takes place once a day at 14:00 for the entire run of La Biennale di Venezia. The script performed by the artist’s mother and transmitted to Venice from her home in Cardiff, draws on both personal experience and found materials. Her voice, elderly, accented by her Northern Irish background and not accustomed to making a public address, will at times hesitate and repeat. It becomes a part of the work, shifting the atmosphere in the rooms with its presence and absence.

Meanwhile in Wales

During the Venice Biennale, in November 2019, National Theatre Wales and Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham will present a version of the radio play Refrain in various locations throughout Wales. Sean Edwards’ exhibition will then tour back to the UK in the spring of 2020, appearing at Tŷ Pawb, Wrexham before moving on to Bluecoat, Liverpool in winter 2020. This activity is kindly supported by Art Fund.

A team of 18 artists, educators, curators and students will support the Wales in Venice team. The Invigilator Plus programme will offer hands-on experience of working in Venice, networking with international peers and a personal development programme.

Instagram: @walesinvenice Twitter: @WalesInVenice Facebook: Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice

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