Reinventing An Icon: Part 1

31 Jul

A couple of weeks ago, local flagmaker Charles Ashburner sent me an email asking if I’d like to get involved in the creation of a new flag. We had met last year when I was working on a commission for the SkyArts TV channel, creating a new artwork – a new flag for Britain that I called “Here Be Dragons“.

Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd

He asked me to develop an image of the historical Welsh heroine, Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd, for the AUOB Cymru (All Under One Banner Wales) march in Caernarfon on July 27th. That wasn’t a lot of time and I nearly said no. But it’s a cause I support so I took a deep breath and said yes and started to research our Welsh warrior princess.

graphite small
Gwenllian in graphite, one of my original sketches

Zena Warrior Princess

So where to start? I found a very interesting little book by Laurel Rockerfeller which gave me the outline of her life but thinking about how to portray her visually was challenging as there are no contemporary drawings and I didn’t want to go down the “Zena Warrior Princess” route (although I love Zena).

Hugh Williams

And although I liked the painting by Hugh Williams from 1909 that’s associated with her, I didn’t want to reproduce that because it has a very Edwardian sensibility and style. I realised that I had to bring her out of the middle ages and rescue her from early 20th century Art Nouveau and bring her bang up to date into the 21st century.

Gwenllian 1
Gwenllian by Hugh Williams 1909

I wondered what she would be like if I could pop into the Tardis with Doctor Who and travel back in time to meet her …… with my pencil and sketchbook …..

….to be continued ….

7 Responses to “Reinventing An Icon: Part 1”

  1. Leonie Andrews August 1, 2019 at 11:12 #

    We are looking on with disbelief. But l suppose that is the issue. It’s a slow train wreck in small increments. Will the pollie who called the vote in the first place go down as the wrecker of the Union?

    • Rosie Scribblah August 1, 2019 at 12:34 #

      To be honest, I think the whole Brexit thing has been a symptom of the breakup of the UK, rather than the cause. It’s been bubbling away for centuries but Brexit and Boris have accelerated it all. I think that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be ok when we split but I fear for England. Politically and existentially they’re floundering.

      • Leonie Andrews August 1, 2019 at 17:18 #

        Yes, from some of the reports we hear I do wonder about how England will go. It seems that many who voted leave have the impression that the empire is still hanging around waiting just to fall back in support. They could be in for a bit of a shock.

    • Rosie Scribblah August 1, 2019 at 17:43 #

      Gosh yes, that Empire thing is still unfortunately common in England. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are all looking to the future and leaving the UK / Empire thing behind but I think it’s going to be harder to shift in England. Empires crash. That’s what happens. Maybe it’s the turn of the English Empire to crash. I hope they come out of it okay.

  2. Leonie Andrews July 31, 2019 at 21:58 #

    Intrigued already…

    • Rosie Scribblah August 1, 2019 at 10:08 #

      I wonder what people abroad think of what’s going on here? It looks likely that the double whammy of Brexit and Boris might break up the UK.


  1. Reinventing An Icon: Part 2 | scribblah - August 1, 2019

    […] did some research on medieval clothing to try and picture Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd for the flag design I was working on.   Unmarried women wore their hair in elaborate braids but as soon as they […]

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