My very first solo show is coming up in September in the fabulous Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley. Check out the details here.
I have spent the past few months travelling across South Wales with Rhondda-born archaeologist Dewi Bowen and Swansea film maker Melvyn Williams, hunting the wild megalith, accompanied by my portable drawing board, portfolio of Fabriano paper and a bag full of assorted artist’s materials. Dewi is researching his latest book on Neolithic monuments and Melvyn is making a documentary film of our literary and artistic adventures. We are following the legendary trail of the boar hunt, y Twrch Trwyth from the Mabinogion, recording the Bronze Age ancestral stones that those ancient hunters would have encountered.
As time goes on, my drawings have become far less substantial because I’m beginning to realise how peripheral these stones are to our everyday life and culture. Apart from 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, but how many people actually know the extent of them outside 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.
What influences a drawing? Lots of things; the subject, the artist’s reactions to the subject; the drawing materials; the weather. People often assume that artists have an easy time of it, sitting around dabbing a bit of paint in warmth and comfort, but the reality? Wrestling with a drawing board in a quagmire, gale force winds, relentless sun, hailstorms. I have been reflecting on the influence of these massive Neolithic monuments on our culture. We still use stone for memorials and until recently as waymarkers. And these massive constructions also remind me of modern environmental art and I feel that connection with fellow artists as I draw them, although four or five millenia separate us.
This new body of work on the stones will be on show at The Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley in September. It’s a terrific gallery run by illustrator Gayle Rogers and sculptor Chris Williams who took over the old library in the village when it was closed at short notice due to austerity cutbacks and I’m so pleased that the stones will get their debut there. If you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.