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Walking In Their Footsteps

1 Sep

peace 4

 

Here’s the final drawing I did last Bank Holiday Monday, when I joined a group of women from across South Wales to remember the original women’s peace march that led to Greenham Common back in 1989. We set out from Swansea really early, then had speeches, songs and a short march around Alexandra Gardens in Cardiff; sidestepping the preparations for the Cardiff Pride event later that day. One of the original marchers, Ann Pettitt, spoke of her experiences, so interesting. Of course, I had to scribble her! I didn’t go on the original protest but I joined 30,000 others at the huge “Embrace The Base” event in 1982, where we all linked hands around the perimeter fence, I think it was about 9 miles.

 

severn 1

 

Then off to Chepstow for tea and Welsh Cakes in the Drill Hall and then recreating part of the march onto the old Severn Bridge on the M48. I’ve driven across that bridge many times through my life but never walked on it. There’s a very good pedestrian and cycle path and I was surprised by how many were walking it on a lovely day. Here’s a view of the new Severn Bridge from the old one with sheep walking across the land below the bridge.

 

The Melted Rocks

24 Jul

Paviland wordpress

One of my favourite places is Paviland, a strange otherworldly cove on the coast of the Gower Peninsula which is the site of the Goat’s Hole Cave, famous for the skeleton of the  “Red Lady of Paviland“, which is actually a young man. From the main road, it’s a fair walk across fields via a marked footpath before the ground drops sharply and narrows into a steep rocky valley down to the beach. The slippery and difficult rocks look as if they have been melted and are splashed with colour from mosses and lichens and veins of different minerals coursing through them. I always take a sketchbook when I visit and I made this large monotype from one of my sketches.

 

Out Of The Blue…

22 Jul
2018 sunshine coal

Buried Sunshine

 

Where do we draw inspiration from? Well, frankly, could be anything, anywhere, anytime. Sometimes it flows from a planned programme of research, other times it just hits you out of the blue. I try to listen to a TED Talk each day and one popped up yesterday by the oceanographer Penny Chisholm about the tiny species Prochlorococcus, the most abundant photosynthetic species on the planet. She was describing how aeons ago, vast amounts of photosynthetic organisms, which lived by absorbing sunlight, sank below the sea, became compressed over unimaginably vast amounts of time and turned into coal and oil. Then came the phrase that hit me … “coal and oil are buried sunshine“!

WOW! I live at the edge of the South Wales coalfield which was mined right back in the 15th century; mining really took off at the beginning of Britain’s Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, continuing until the 1980s, and I’d never thought about the buried sunshine beneath my feet.

Some previous drawings en plein air from Big Pit in Blaenavon.

 

I immediately started to imagine some visual images so I drew one straight away with Daler Rowney artist quality soft pastels onto Khadi handmade paper. While the idea of buried sunshine is beautiful, coal and oil lock away vast amounts of carbon and once they come out of the ground and they’re burned, that carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Which isn’t good. Perhaps we should leave the rest of this ancient sunshine safely buried.

 

You can see Penny Chisholm’s TED Talk on this video…

Concrete And Astroturf??!!

16 Jul

loganberry cordial

Husb and I are keen gardeners, well, no, that’s not true. I’m a keen gardener and Husb would happily fill the garden with concrete and Astroturf! Our garden is small but we also have an allotment and grow a lot of fruit and some veg. At this time of year, we’re picking our produce which means spending time cleaning and preserving it. Today we made 6 jars of gooseberry and elderflower jam and 6 bottles of loganberry cordial and picked about 4 kilos of jostaberries (a cross between gooseberries and blackcurrants), a kilo of rhubarb and a load of rainbow chard. Not much chance of doing anything arty with all this going on, but I did this drawing a while back of our local castle which overlooks the allotments. It’s an idyllic place, we’re very lucky.

Tomorrow, I’ll be jamming all those jostaberries and making rhubarb chutney.

Walking And Drawing

8 Jul

walk and draw

I spent yesterday evening with a group of really lovely women at a creative arts workshop in the beautiful surroundings of North Gower. We went for a walk in the glorious sunshine and some us us did a ‘Walk And Draw’ which really focuses you on being very selective as you can’t draw everything in front of you – you’re on the move – and there’s way too much to draw in an ever-changing landscape anyway. It’s a good opportunity to get a bit abstracted and develop a shorthand of motifs for different features, a sort of storyline. For example, a sun-drenched path might be translated into a bright crescent swirl of white, an interesting building morphs into a few dynamic diagonals….. I used compressed charcoal, chalk and a soft ochre pastel onto brown parcel paper.

Print Explosion at Volcano

4 Jul
pak1

Punjab Storm #1, a monotype by me based on an original drawing from my residency in Pakistan in 2014

There’s a new exhibition at Volcano on Swansea’s High Street called Print Explosion! It’s the annual show for members of Swansea Print Workshop and I have 8 original prints in it. The opening party is on Friday July 6th, 6.30 – 9.00 pm and the show runs until Saturday July 28th. If you’re passing, please drop by 🙂

2018 SPW poster text only

Out Of My Comfort Zone!

30 Jun

Today! Right out of my comfort zone!

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Designing the book cover

 

I’ve been at Swansea Print Workshop on day one of a weekend course with the excellent printmaker Kelly Stewart. I’m learning how to make a hardbacked screenprinted concertina book inspired by my drawings.

I started with a group of mixed media drawings of Neolithic Standing Stones I had done some time ago, a series I called ‘Yr Helfa / The Hunt‘, done en plein air across South Wales. But it’s often a problem trying to develop work from one genre to another because no matter what ideas you have, you are constrained by new techniques and materials that you haven’t experienced before.

It was hard work and by midday I was almost ready to throw in the towel and leave. But I persevered with Kelly’s encouragement and eventually came up with six drawings / motifs that will be printed and overprinted to form the book’s interior and designs for the front and back covers. I photocopied them onto acetates and Kelly transferred them, via the ultraviolet unit, onto prepared photoscreens. All set for tomorrow now.

Suffering For My Art!

11 Jun
workers 1

Me and my unruly hair talking about my work on ancient standing stones.

 

I had a fab evening out last week, up The Workers, a lovely gallery in the village of Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley. On the first Thursday of each month, they host an evening of Words, Arts and Music (WAM) and I was part of it this month. I did a talk about my work, mainly the en plein air pieces I did in collaboration with prehistorian Dewi Bowen, who’s been researching his new book, and filmmaker Melvyn Williams.

 

event-header

Some of the mixed media drawings in my series ‘Yr Helfa’.

 

Dewi did an illustrated talk about ancient monuments in the area around Rhondda and Melvyn premiered the new film he’s made of me and Dewi on our creative journey across South Wales. Here’s the film below. People in the audience seemed to find it funny, especially the bits of me suffering for my art!!!

 

Drawn To Monotype

5 Jun

sleeping woman

I’ve been searching through my older work today. I do it from time to time because I find it helps me to analyse what I’m doing now. And also it reminds me what I have tucked away in my plans chest, often things I had forgotten.

SONY DSC

These two reminded me how crucial drawing is to my art practice. The first was done during the weekly life drawing session at Swansea Print Workshop. I liked the composition so much that I used it to develop this monotype, a technique I often use when I want to work in colour. I’ve never been particularly interested in painting, I’d rather use a printmaking process any day. You can find out more about this process in my Techie Stuff section here.

 

WAM night June 2018

Just a reminder about this night coming up fast in the Rhonddda Valley

The Net Shops

3 Jun

net sheds

Here’s a quick little sketch I did on my recent visit to Hastings. We walked along the sea front to the Old Town, which is a fishing village, and saw these odd, elongated dark wooden sheds. It turns out they’re net shops / sheds, the fishermen had limited space to hang their nets so built the sheds very high, three stories and painted black. There were also normal size sheds, also very dark wood, that sold the freshest of fish, landed that day. It is lovely to see a traditional industry dating back to the early 19th century still thriving.

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