Out and about visiting ancient sites in and around the Rhondda Valley, we stopped on the way from Hirwaun to Treherbert to look around the Hendre’r Mynydd Iron Age settlement. It’s a bit more modern than the ones we’ve been visiting, probably less than 3000 years old. My travelling companion, archaeologist Dewi Bowen, described it as a ‘liminal’ place, at the boundary of two different environments, teetering on the very edge of an upland clearing with an immense drop into the valley below.
Now there are two things I don’t normally do, landscapes and abstracts and here I have drawn an abstract landscape! The settlement is made up of low-lying rock walls forming circles and swirls in the rough grass; there’s no single significant thing to draw such as a standing stone or a tomb so how to approach a subject like this? I’m not interested in doing a topographical drawing, or realism, I want to tap into something deeper that means more to me and this is what I ended up with. I drew an outline of the rock formations as they lay across the site in white conte crayon across a piece of Fabriano Accademica paper that I had prepared with walnut ink, sponged on to achieve a light background wash and then dribbled with the original full-strength ink.
I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the standing stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about the our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.