Archive | March, 2016

Boy And Spear

20 Mar

Parc le breos 2

Yesterday I went to a local ancient site, Parc le Breos on the Gower Peninsula with Husb and one of our young nephews. There was a day of ancient events going on, showing how people lived many of thousands of years ago. We saw a flint knapper who made a stone axe-head in about 20 minutes from a few pieces of rock; wild wheat being ground between two stones then baked into flatbreads on a stone over the fire; a Neolithic stew made from bits of cow, some dried peas and wild garlic; pots were being made and fired and cooked in; clothes fashioned from deer skin; and spears thrown.

Young nephew loved the spear throwing. One end of the spear (the feathered end) was slotted into an atlatl (spear thrower) which uses leverage to greatly increase the speed of spear throwing. They have been used until at least the Upper Paleolithic, around 30,000 years ago, and still exist with some hunter gatherers today. Did a few scribbles of the nephew into my sketchbook, this is the one I liked best. I did a quick drawing with a graphite stick and then inked it with a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen.

Birds And Burial Chamber

19 Mar
Carn Llechart chambered tomb

Carn Llechart chambered tomb

The final drawing from Thursday’s field trip visiting some of the many ancient stones of South Wales. I hadn’t realised how many there are across the country. Our ancestors left a huge amount of monuments across the Neolithic and Bronze Age landscape. This is the Carn Llechart chambered tomb, just a hundred yards or so North West of the Carn Llechart cairn circle. The capstones are huge and probably deposited there by a glacier before people modified them into a chambered grave. The weather was fine and bright, a bit chilly and the views spectacular; larks hovered above us singing their hearts out. Truly beautiful.

 

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 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.

Sleeping Giant, Black Stones

18 Mar
Tafarn y Garreg 1

Maen Fawr (Big Stone) near Tafarn Y Garreg

Here’s another drawing I did yesterday on my journey around sites of ancestral stones in South Wales, using carbon and white conte crayon onto Fabriano Accademica paper prepared with homemade walnut husk ink. We travelled up the Swansea Valley, past Ystradgynlais and on to Abercrave where we stopped for a few minutes to show the Sleeping Giant to my young nephew who was out with us for the day. You can see him slumbering up on top of the hill (below).

sleeping giant

The Sleeping Giant of Abercrave

Then another few miles up the valley towards Tafarn Y Garreg, where we scrambled across a stream strewn with slippery, slime-covered rocks and up a steep slope to Maen Fawr (Big Stone) and the Cerrig Duon (Black Stones) circle.

Tafarn y Garreg 2

It’s a fairly large site with not only a circle but also two outlier stones marking a row with Maen Fawr and an avenue, although the stones used for this are so small and overgrown with tussocks of rough grass that it’s hard to find them

Owain

As a boy, archaeologist Dewi Bowen used to scramble on top of Maen Fawr and now, almost 55 years later, my young nephew has done the same.

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 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.

Stone Circle And Lark Song

17 Mar

Back to the ancestral stones today with a brisk walk up Mynydd Llechart above Pontardawe to the Carn Llechart cairn circle. It’s been a gorgeous day, quite warm and very bright and sunny, deep blue skies with no clouds. The larks hovered and sang all around us and we met some jolly dog walkers, despite being miles away from anywhere.

Carn Llechart circle

It’s a simple circle, quite small stones but with a terrific view across the expansive land. I drew onto Fabriano Accademica paper that I had prepared with my home-made walnut ink and some white acrylic paint. I drew with carbon and white conte crayon. I just sketched in the shapes quite roughly and concentrated instead on making marks, getting into the physicality and pure pleasure of drawing with the sun on my face, surrounded by some of the best scenery in the world.

Facing north at Mynydd Llechart

Facing north at Mynydd Llechart

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 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.

Looking south at Mynydd Llechart

Looking south at Mynydd Llechart

Build It And They Will Come

16 Mar

 

Psychobagpuss Bagpuss Window

Back in September 2015, my artist chum Melanie Ezra and I ripped up filthy old carpet, bleached what needed bleaching, filled the window of a semi-derelict dirty old shop with art and artefacts,  set up an event page on Facebook, opened the doors and developed our artwork in the premises during daylight hours. Over the next three and a half weeks, The Bagpuss Window, earmarked for demolition in Swansea’s High Street, brought forth an outpouring of visual and performing art and was experienced by around 200 people, artists and the public alike.

What happened?

They came, they saw, they did art.

Local charity Circus Eruption lent us some iconic chairs, copies of the classic Arne Jacobsen design so we started a photo project, asking artists who visited to have their photo taken ‘Being Christine Keeler’.

Puppeteer and musician David Pitt sat in the doorway and ‘gonged’ the street, sometimes with sunpan player, Sharon Edlington Douglas.

The Window held an ever-changing array of artistic tableaux with artists bringing in and collecting work every few days.

Tableaux

And then there was Man Arkin (Jonathan Green), whose silent performance overlooked the run-down street one afternoon.

Sylvie Evans psychedelically collaged the changing rooms…

sylvie

Hannah Lawson took over a darkened derelict space out the back for her light paintings.

Archaeologist Dewi Bowen created a Cretan Labyrinth on the floor for people to walk and contemplate.

Melanie Ezra worked on her delicate assemblages each day but also found time to paint the walls.

Rhys Trimble performed his spontaneous poetry into the street….

We did some etching

Dai Melv at Bagpuss

I did some drawing…..

And Melvyn Williams filmed it …….

Breaking Out Of The Frame @ The Workers Gallery

15 Mar

See my print installations and more artwork by me and the gallery artists throughout March and April at The Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in The Rhondda Valley. It’s a great place to visit.

I’ve been a printmaker for a long while, I majored in Printmaking in Art College back at the end of the 1970s and my lecturer, Andy Charlton a fantastic artist, was proper old school. Nothing wrong with that, but in recent years I’ve become disillusioned with the conventional way of exhibiting prints, in a frame on a pristine wall in a gleaming white gallery.

horizontal

 

I’ve always preferred art to be inclusive, rather than exclusive and so many galleries actively promote exclusivity, which puts a lot of people off even entering. And when someone does step over the doorstep, it’s very easy to walk by the rows of neatly framed artwork arranged on the pristine walls without stopping for a closer look or understanding the processes that have gone into the piece.

window 2

I’ve been trying to break out of the frame and display my printmaking in a way that develops a more interactive relationship with the viewer and also to move it into a viewing place that is more accessible than a conventional gallery. I’ve been experimenting with assembling multiple prints, starting with a work based on the cyanotype technique, a pattern for a Victorian corset and a series of sketchbook drawings of elder women.

I have exhibited them in sequence, hanging on a wall, and I also took it all apart and tied it to a clothes horse as you can see above.  I really liked the clothes airer scenario so I decided to do another.

frida paper

A while back, I had a small rubber stamp  made up from a silkscreen print I did based on the fabulous Frida Kahlo, an artist I admire very much. I printed it onto small leftover pieces of a beautiful Japanese Shiohara paper that I had been using for another print job .

I had been wondering what to do with them and I finally decided on making them up into a self-contained installation. I made a start by sewing them onto a very robust handmade paper – 300gsm – that I’d bought at the Tate Gallery a few years ago on an antique Singer sewing machine.

And then I assembled them onto a clothes airer. People seem more willing to walk around something three-dimensional and they look at the work far more than when it’s in frames on a wall.

hung

So far these works have been exhibited in an arts café, a conventional gallery, a pop-up artspace in a socially deprived area, and a shop window and will soon be going to The Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley, a much-loved community-oriented artspace in what was, until the austerity cutbacks, the local library. The challenge now is to continue to break out of the frame and to find even more socially relevant places and ways to show my work.

World of Work Workers Gallery Poster

The Ratter

14 Mar
cath mis mai

cath mis mai

I’m tired and haven’t had a chance to do any drawing today – I’ve been slaving over a computer since this morning so I’m blogging a drawing of Sparta Puss I did a while back. She’s a fanatical hunter and she’s one of those cats who brings their prey home alive and sets the unfortunate creatures loose. My late father-in-law, a first language Welsh speaker, called her a “cath mis Mai” or a month-of-May cat and said that it was an old wives tale in Wales that kittens born after the month of May would bring home live prey, but kittens born before that would not. He said that his parents would always ask when a cat was born when they were getting a new one, and would refuse a “cath mis Mai”. I haven’t heard this from anyone else and can’t find any reference to it on the Internet so I wonder how widespread it was?

Drawing The Stones

13 Mar

I’m continuing to work on a series of drawings of ancestral monuments across South Wales and here are the drawings I’ve done so far on my travels  with archaeologist Dewi and film maker Melvyn. I’m chuffed with the range of the drawings and the way my work is developing into a more expressive style over the weeks. And it’s looking likely that I’ll be exhibiting these and the others I’m planning to do sometime in the Autumn. Watch this space!

Carreg Jack

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.

 

 

The Liminal Place

12 Mar

iron age

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.

iron age 2

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.

Rocking!

11 Mar

Rocking

Carrying on with our search for ancient monuments, we came across this famous one on the hillside above Pontypridd. It’s The Rocking Stone, or Y Garreg Siglo in Welsh. This seems to be two massive stones laid one on top of the other, probably a glacial erratic placed by a glacier in the last Ice Age.  but certainly done by nature, not by people. It attracted the attention of poet and bard Iolo Morgannwg, who held the second modern Eisteddfod there in 1795.  The stone circle, The Gorsedd, was erected around it some time later by the bard Myfyr Morgannwg.

Rocking 2

Film maker Melvyn Williams and a archaeologist Dewi Bowen rocking on the stone

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.

 

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