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Rebecca And Her Riots

17 Jan

Dinefwr 3

Husb and I went to a fabulous exhibition that opened this evening at the National Trust’s Newton House in Dinefwr near Llandeilo. It’s by Cardiff artist and printmaker John Abell. Called ‘Becca And Her Children’, it’s inspired by the Rebecca Riots that happened in the area in the early 19th century.

Dinefwr 2

John has been doing a residency there, producing paintings, small drypoint prints and huge linocuts. They are lush, so complex.

Dinefwr

The historic venue is a fabulous setting for the work. The house and grounds are worth a day out in their own right as well. The exhibition continues to April the 20th.

A Dead Horse In A Sketchbook

14 Jan

mari 2 2020

Husb and I went to the Gower Wassail and Mari Lwyd festival last weekend, where there was a gathering of Maris. Normally they’re jumping around the place, up to mischief, but this one had been propped up against a pole and was sat quietly, so I had a chance to draw her in more detail than normal. The sketch on the right was the first and I made her face way too long. I know that horses have long faces anyway, but this one was foreshortened and the drawing on the left is more accurate. Some people might think it a bit strange that people choose to keep company with dead horses, but it’s what we do in these parts 😀

To find out more about the Mari Lwyd tradition in Wales, please click here

Hen Galan Hapus – Happy Old New Year

13 Jan

Mari cas gwent

Today (January 13th) is Hen Galan, the Welsh Old New Year, based on the archaic Gregorian rather than the modern Julian calendar. And there’s a long tradition in Wales of welcoming in the Old New Year with fun, festivities, feasting and a dead horse. As you do. She’s called the Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) and is a modern incarnation of the ancient Celtic horse goddess Epona, also called Rhiannon in Wales.

mari 3 2020

Grey and white animals were prized in pre-Christian times for their ability to flit between this world and Annwn, the Otherworld, which isn’t like the Christian Heaven and Hell. That’s why Christianity almost wiped out the tradition, by the mid 20th century there were only a handful of Mari Lwyds left in Wales, where there had once been hundreds. But now she’s coming back and Husb and I went Wassailing on Saturday and there were six Mari Lwyds prancing around and making mischief. The one at the top is Mari Cas-Gwent (the Chepstow Mari Lwyd) and the bottom one is Mari Benfro (the Pembrokeshire Mari Lwyd). They’re all different.

Anointing The Apple Trees.

11 Jan

mari 4 2020

 

In two days on January 13th it will be Hen Galan, the ‘old’ New Year in Wales, which is heralded by the tradition of the Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare). It’s a pre-Christian custom rooted in the worship of the ancient Celtic horse goddess Epona, known in Welsh culture as Rhiannon.

 

mari 1 2020

 

Husb and I went to the Gower Wassail festival today, which included a parade of Mari Lwyds by torchlight, with lots of music and shouting to ‘wake up’ the apple trees in the orchard, and to anoint their roots with cider. It’s an ancient ritual meant to encourage a good apple harvest next year. Here’s Husb getting dressed as a Mari – traditionally although the Mari is female, the person inside is a man, although these days there are women puppeteers as well. You can see the horse skull on the floor.

Flashback To The Desert

7 Jan

desert drawing

It seems like a long time ago that Husb and I were in Jordan, but it was just a few weeks. I did this drawing in my sketchbook as we sat on a rocky ridge in the Wadi Rum desert waiting for the sunset, which was incredible, so beautiful, vast, silent.

sunset 1

Photograph by M. Williams

Quizzing

7 Jan

brunz quiz 1a

A couple of quick sketches at our local pub quiz. We were abysmal, 28 out of 40 – the winners scored 38! I’m getting back to normal after the mid-winter shenanigans where I took a bit of a break from doing art – or anything much else to be honest, apart from eating my own body weight in cheese! So back to sketching every day. I used a ballpoint pen for these very quick scribbles into an A6 size pocket sketchbook.

Drawing In The Moment

22 Dec

qusayr 2

 

I prefer to sketch when I’m travelling and take very few photographs because when I look back at photos and drawings, it’s the sketches that put me back into the moment and make the memory more vivid. Here’s a quick sketch outside the UNESCO World Heritage site, Quasayr’ Amra, a desert castle in the north of Jordan, to the eaast of the capital city of Amman.

Drawing In The Pleasure Palace

21 Dec

drawing 1

Husb and I travelled to a lot of fascinating places during our recent trip to Jordan. I did this drawing in Qusayr’ Amra, a desert castle, pleasure palace and UNESCO World Heritage site in the east of the country. It’s about 1,700 years old and it’s interior is covered in magnificent frescoes, unusually for a Moslem country because they accurately represent animals and humans. In this particular one (above), I noticed that she only has three fingers, which is very common in modern cartoons. And the use of patterns in some of the paintings (below) is very contemporary.

Qusayr

 

 

 

Petroglyphs, Camels and a Wadi Rum Pallette

19 Dec

pallette

Husb and I camped overnight in the Wadi Rum desert last week. The colours were wonderful, so complex. I didn’t have time to do “landscape” paintings so throughout the trip I focused on capturing the colours around me with Winsor & Newton watercolours onto Somerset paper, creating my own locality pallette.

There were camels…. it was like the Lawrence of Arabia film. Wadi Rum is where he did a lot of his shenanigans.

camels

 

And there were ancient petroglyphs, featuring camels.

 

petroglyphs

 

 

Dead Sea Pallette

17 Dec

dead sea pallette

I do some artwork when I’m travelling, but there’s no time to do completed pieces. I’m not there to carry on working but also I don’t want to miss the chance to do something creative in a new environment, so this time I decided to try and record the colours of a place, to create a pallete of local colours, using Winsor & Newton Cotman watercolours. Here’s my Dead Sea pallete, on a warm but misty day which made the land and sea look quite smudgey. I’m on a beach in Jordan, looking over to the West Bank.

dead sea

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