Rebecca And Her Riots

17 Jan

Dinefwr 3

Husb and I went to a fabulous exhibition that opened this evening at the National Trust’s Newton House in Dinefwr near Llandeilo. It’s by Cardiff artist and printmaker John Abell. Called ‘Becca And Her Children’, it’s inspired by the Rebecca Riots that happened in the area in the early 19th century.

Dinefwr 2

John has been doing a residency there, producing paintings, small drypoint prints and huge linocuts. They are lush, so complex.

Dinefwr

The historic venue is a fabulous setting for the work. The house and grounds are worth a day out in their own right as well. The exhibition continues to April the 20th.

A Dead Horse In A Sketchbook

14 Jan

mari 2 2020

Husb and I went to the Gower Wassail and Mari Lwyd festival last weekend, where there was a gathering of Maris. Normally they’re jumping around the place, up to mischief, but this one had been propped up against a pole and was sat quietly, so I had a chance to draw her in more detail than normal. The sketch on the right was the first and I made her face way too long. I know that horses have long faces anyway, but this one was foreshortened and the drawing on the left is more accurate. Some people might think it a bit strange that people choose to keep company with dead horses, but it’s what we do in these parts 😀

To find out more about the Mari Lwyd tradition in Wales, please click here

Hen Galan Hapus – Happy Old New Year

13 Jan

Mari cas gwent

Today (January 13th) is Hen Galan, the Welsh Old New Year, based on the archaic Gregorian rather than the modern Julian calendar. And there’s a long tradition in Wales of welcoming in the Old New Year with fun, festivities, feasting and a dead horse. As you do. She’s called the Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) and is a modern incarnation of the ancient Celtic horse goddess Epona, also called Rhiannon in Wales.

mari 3 2020

Grey and white animals were prized in pre-Christian times for their ability to flit between this world and Annwn, the Otherworld, which isn’t like the Christian Heaven and Hell. That’s why Christianity almost wiped out the tradition, by the mid 20th century there were only a handful of Mari Lwyds left in Wales, where there had once been hundreds. But now she’s coming back and Husb and I went Wassailing on Saturday and there were six Mari Lwyds prancing around and making mischief. The one at the top is Mari Cas-Gwent (the Chepstow Mari Lwyd) and the bottom one is Mari Benfro (the Pembrokeshire Mari Lwyd). They’re all different.

Anointing The Apple Trees.

11 Jan

mari 4 2020

 

In two days on January 13th it will be Hen Galan, the ‘old’ New Year in Wales, which is heralded by the tradition of the Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare). It’s a pre-Christian custom rooted in the worship of the ancient Celtic horse goddess Epona, known in Welsh culture as Rhiannon.

 

mari 1 2020

 

Husb and I went to the Gower Wassail festival today, which included a parade of Mari Lwyds by torchlight, with lots of music and shouting to ‘wake up’ the apple trees in the orchard, and to anoint their roots with cider. It’s an ancient ritual meant to encourage a good apple harvest next year. Here’s Husb getting dressed as a Mari – traditionally although the Mari is female, the person inside is a man, although these days there are women puppeteers as well. You can see the horse skull on the floor.

Abigail Fraser @ GS Artists

11 Jan

fraser 4

Husb and I went to GS Artists in Swansea’s High Street this evening to see a new exhibition by artist Abigail Fraser. Sometimes people get so serious about art, but I love Fraser’s irreverence and sense of fun.

 

Knitting For Wildlife

9 Jan

knitting for wildlife

 

I’ve just started knitting a Joey pouch to fit a small kangaroo rescued from the Australian fires. There’s an international group on Facebook co-ordinating the making of pouches, nests, beds, baskets, bird jumpers, bat wraps, koala mittens and hanging bags and there’s a local group too for the Swansea area. I’m knitting this with some spare pure wool (DK in the UK, 8 ply in Australia) and a set of 4mm knitting needles. There’s a list of instructions in the Files section on Animal Rescue Craft Guild Facebook page for knitting, crochet and sewing. If you have a few hours to spare, maybe you’d like to make one.

 

knitting for wildlife header

Flashback To The Desert

7 Jan

desert drawing

It seems like a long time ago that Husb and I were in Jordan, but it was just a few weeks. I did this drawing in my sketchbook as we sat on a rocky ridge in the Wadi Rum desert waiting for the sunset, which was incredible, so beautiful, vast, silent.

sunset 1

Photograph by M. Williams

Quizzing

7 Jan

brunz quiz 1a

A couple of quick sketches at our local pub quiz. We were abysmal, 28 out of 40 – the winners scored 38! I’m getting back to normal after the mid-winter shenanigans where I took a bit of a break from doing art – or anything much else to be honest, apart from eating my own body weight in cheese! So back to sketching every day. I used a ballpoint pen for these very quick scribbles into an A6 size pocket sketchbook.

Ready To Print

3 Jan

cut

I finished cutting a Mari Lwyd skull into my vinyl block. I’ll print it this weekend, using Japanese Hosho paper and Caligo Cranfield ‘Safe Wash‘ relief printing ink, with maybe a hint of chine collé.  I was going to do two skulls but I think the one at the back would make it too crowded so I haven’t cut it.

 

The Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) is a manifestation of the ancient Celtic horse goddess, Epona – or Rhiannon in Wales, and might even be linked to the earliest cave paintings of shamen in their animal masks. She makes her appearance in the Welsh tradition during Hen Galan, or the ‘old’ New Year based on the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar which is usually celebrated around the 13th of January.

You can order your own Mari Lwyd, a flat pack horse skull kit designed by David Pitt here….

A Flat Pack Mari Lwyd

2 Jan

Mari Lwyd 2020

Mari Lwyd time will soon be here and I’ve been doing a little lino cut to make some cards to celebrate. She’s a manifestation of the ancient Celtic horse goddess, Epona – or Rhiannon in Wales, and might even be linked to the earliest cave paintings of shamen in their animal masks. She makes her appearance in the Welsh tradition during Hen Galan, or the ‘old’ New Year based on the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar which is usually celebrated around the 13th of January.

 

flat pack

A flat-pack Mari Lwyd kit designed by David Pitt and sold by ‘trac’

Horse skulls are a bit hard to come by these days, but if you want your own Mari Lwyd, you can order a flat pack horse skull kit here….

%d bloggers like this: