South Wales is so full of talented artists, despite the poor economy and our relative isolation on the Western fringes of Europe – or maybe because of it. Property is cheap and there’s an intensity and freedom to be had from being so far from the frenetic centre of the art establishment in London. Husb and I went to the opening of Melanie Ezra’s new exhibition, Methodology, at The Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley. I love The Workers Gallery. Started by illustrator Gale Rogers and sculptor Chris Williams about 18 months ago it continues defiantly in an area of immense social and economic deprivation, receiving no public funding, building a stable of enthusiastic and eclectic artists across the area. It was lovely there this afternoon, with lashings of tea and Welsh cakes. I also met up with some fellow artists who follow this blog and had some great conversations with them. About art of course 😀
The image that many people have of Wales is one of post industrial dereliction but what avaricious industrialists once destroyed, nature has reclaimed and the mountains and valleys are now breathtakingly beautiful and can stand comparison with anywhere in Europe. We drove back across the mountain via Treherbert and stopped at a viewing spot above Llyn Fawr, a carpet of wild flowers spilled over my feet.
People have constructed memorials at the edge of the mountain, looking across the valley. This resonates with so much of my work, from Yr Helfa (The Hunt) about the ancient Neolithic ancestral stones I have been drawing in recent months; to last year’s series, Er Gôf, based on the Holocaust Memorial; from the currently ongoing drawn portraits of Baby Boomers, to the series of monotypes, Warrior, working with a young Welsh soldier – so much of my art is about loss, mortality and memory.
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.