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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
Tables turn for eisteddfod judge
Walter Keeler
Walter Keeler was an eisteddfod judge in the 1980s
A potter who once decided whose work would go on show at the National Eisteddfod has seized his chance to impress the judges with his own work.

Walter Keeler, from Monmouth, made a triumphant debut, winning the gold medal for craft and design, as well as the 5,000 prize money.

He is one of around 50 artists chosen for this year's exhibition at the cultural festival in Newport.

The pavilion is one of the most popular on the eisteddfod field.

Keeler, 62, who has lived and worked in south Wales for 28 years, had never entered his work at an eisteddfod before.

He said the festival is an interesting chance to see the spread of work from around the nation.

One of Walter Keeler's pots
Around 20 of Mr Keeler's pots will be on show

"I am quite excited - the number of artists, and the quality, has increased in Wales over the years," he said.

"The arts scene is more vibrant and more recognised."

He said the eisteddfod would display "a good cross-section" of art, which would help him put his own work into perspective.

"You work on your own in the studio, sending work out, but this is a very good opportunity to see it in a national context."

Keeler said he had not been sure about entering his work to the eisteddfod, even though he had been one of the show's selectors in 1988.

We have all media from ceramics, silverware and basket-weaving to audio, digital arts, installation and painting
Robyn Tomos, Visual Arts Officer

"I received information about the eisteddfod but I am not one for entering competitions," he said.

"But I was nudged at the right time and, as I am an established maker in Wales, it is about taking part."

Around 20 of his pieces, which he describes as "basically functional pottery", have been chosen for the exhibition.

"I approach function with the eye of a sculptor, and there are references within the work to different styles and different eras," he explained.


Robyn Tomos, Visual Arts Officer at the Eisteddfod, said it was "quite a feat" for artists to get their work into the exhibition.

Craft and Design Gold Medal: Walter Keeler
Fine Art Gold Medal: Stuart Lee
Young Artist Scholarship: Sean Edwards
Plaque of Merit for Architecture: Maredudd ap Iestyn
Architecture Gold Medal: Powell Dobson
Architecture Scholarship: Rory Harmer and Manon Awst

Mr Tomos said that, this year, there had been more than 415 entries - the most he has known.

"It is an open exhibition," he said.

"We have all media from ceramics, silverware and basket-weaving to audio, digital arts, installation and painting."

"It reflects what is around, and is different each year."

Walter Keeler has previously exhibited around the UK, including recent touring displays in Leicester and Ruthin, as well as at Cardiff's St David's Hall and Aberystwyth Arts Centre.



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