As I’m continuing to work with Dewi Bowen, the archaeologist, I realise just how many ancestral stone monuments there are across the Welsh landscape. Apart for a few years in England, I’ve lived in Wales all my life and I never realised how ubiquitous these ancient monuments are. They seem reasonably well documented, on websites like The Megalithic Portal and the Modern Antiquarian and in county surveys, but how many people actually know the extent of them outside of a relatively small group of academics and enthusiasts? Despite their monumental size and their presence throughout millennia, they almost seem to be hidden in plain view, unseen and ignored by motorists and ramblers and dog walkers.
This reflection is beginning to influence the way I’m working. I have been drawing onto Fabriano paper that I’ve prepared with washes of home-made walnut ink, allowing my feelings and impressions of the ancient sites to guide what I put down. Then, out in the field, I draw over the background imagery with carbon, white conte crayon and occasionally soft oil pastels. This week, my drawings are far less substantial because I’m beginning to realise how peripheral these stones are to our everyday life and culture. Which is a pity.
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 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 currently working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.