Tag Archives: ancient monuments

The Stone With No Name…..

19 Jan

llangain

This is the second stone we visited yesterday in muddy West Wales, near Llangain. Quite a few of the Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments around here don’t have names and this is one of them. It’s a large, fine stone with an unusual feature that makes it look like a face from some angles. It’s surrounded by pylons and power cables. We could here the electricity crackling…..

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

MUD!

18 Jan

llwyn-ddu

Mud. Mud and standing stones. After a break of about three months I’m off out traipsing across the muddier parts of South Wales with filmmaker Melvyn Williams and pre-historian Dewi Bowen. There are still a lot of ancient monuments to be explored, recorded and drawn before Dewi is able to complete his new book. This small group is an unusual configuration called Llwyn Ddu, which translates from Welsh as Black Grove. It’s a strange place with a dark atmosphere so I drew onto a piece of paper I’d prepared with 2 layers of gesso and compressed charcoal. I had then rubbed different tones away with wire wool at random. I used black, white and sanguine conté crayons to draw with.

mud

Mud, mud and more mud. A field in January on our way to the Llwyn Ddu standing stones.

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

The Living Stones

17 Apr

Tyn Cellar

We managed to get to 4 ancient stones earlier this week and this one, Ty’n y Selar, is near Margam, in a field right next to the M4 motorway. It’s a fine large menhir, around 8 feet tall, but the sound of the traffic really intruded into the atmosphere of the place, disrupting the peace. A legend says that Saint Samson threw it into the field from Margam Hill; one of the locals we met told us of a legend that the stone regularly walks to take a drink at the local pub! I also read that the stone walks to the sea to drink each Christmas morning before the cock crows. There have been several other stones on my journey with Dewi and Melvyn that are supposed to be able to walk to take a drink.

One thing I’ve noticed about the stones as I’ve been travelling across South Wales is that they are rarely cold to the touch, they’re a comfortable temperature and most are covered with extensive colonies of lichens. I place my hand on each stone I visit, but carefully as lichen can be many years old and I don’t want to damage it. The temperature and the lichen give me an impression that the stones are somehow imbued with life, they are living stones.

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. 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.

Going Solo

14 Apr
They like my drawing? No, they're after my apples

They like my drawing? No, they’re after my apples

Exciting but scary news. I’ve been offered a solo show based on the work I’m doing on Bronze Age and Neolithic ancestral stones in South Wales. I’ve never done a solo show before, always been part of group shows but this body of work is coming along very quickly and I am already planning to diversify into printmaking, with woodcuts, monotypes and etchings in the pipeline.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It will be at the most excellent Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley, a gorgeous gallery and workshop space set up just over a year ago by artists Gayle Rogers and Chris Williams.

The exhibition will run from September 1st to 24th and will include opening and closing events, artist talks and workshops in drawing and printmaking techniques.

The Workers Gallery

The Workers Gallery

Don’t Panic!!!!!

Letting Go Of The Comfort Blanket

3 Apr
big ink a

Work in progress – where will I go with it next?

Here’s something scary, I’m getting out of my comfort zone which is working from what is in front of me. I’ve been clutching to the comfort blanket of working from reality all my life and now I’m trying to let go. And I am not enjoying it one bit. But making art is something I don’t particularly enjoy anyway, if I want to enjoy something I make a cake. That’s my hobby. Art is my vocation. And it’s hard work, lots of work, continuous self-doubt and always pushing against complacency.

I’ve been going out and drawing Neolithic and Bronze Age ancestral stones over the past few weeks and struggling to make them relevant to me. I don’t want to churn out picturesque landscapes, that’s why I’ve tended to avoid doing landscape art in the past. I’ve been trying different techniques to take me away from realism or topographical drawing and into something expressionist, gestural, emotive, visceral.

I’ve started ripping up big-ish pieces of Fabriano paper and daubing, sponging, painting them with my home-made walnut ink without reference to the real world, photos or drawings. I’m relying on the feelings, sensations, thoughts I have experienced when I have been out drawing the ancient monuments.

Oh crikey! Does that make me sound like a hippy?!!!! 😀 😀 😀

Dewis book

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

Cutting The Stones

25 Mar
Vinyl drawn and ready to cut

Vinyl drawn and ready to cut

I do a lot of drawings and many of them become the basis of prints. I’ve selected 9 of my recent drawings of ancient Neolithic stone monuments to develop into linocuts. Well, I’m using soft cut vinyl instead of lino but the final print will look the same. The vinyl is very easy to cut so my cutting tools go through them with little resistance. I started off by dividing my 30 x 30 cms vinyl block into 9 squares and then redrawing my stones in reverse using a white conte crayon.

 

Vinyl - first cut

Vinyl – first cut

Then I cut into them with my Flexcut tools, using the Flexistrop to keep the tools sharp. I’ve kept the cutting minimal at this stage; I’ll check out the image by taking a rubbing with tissue paper and a block of graphite to check what’s there and cut into them some more if I need to. It’s better to cut too little rather than too much – you can always cut out a bit more, but you can’t put any back.

The Offerings

24 Mar
Arthur's Stone / Maen Ceti

Arthur’s Stone / Maen Ceti

This is the third and final drawing I did at Arthur’s Stone on the Gower Peninsular on Tuesday. It’s the fastest and perhaps the most abstracted of the three. I loved the brushstrokes of the home-made walnut ink so much that I didn’t want to cover them so I kept the linear drawing of the stones very simple to allow the background to show through. There are legends associated with Arthur’s Stone, one of the oddest is that the stone travels over Cefn Bryn at dawn to drink from a local stream. There’s a similar story about the Maen Llia stone near Ystradfellte.

The monument is a Neolithic burial chamber, one of the first sites to be protected under the Ancient Monuments Act (1882) and it’s long association with the dead is reflected in the offerings that are often placed on it or nearby. This week I found a memorial around a small stone on the periphery of the site, simple wooden crosses with regimental badges and some flowers. We found another offering, or maybe a shrine, up at Llyn Fawr in the Cynon Valley a couple of weeks ago. A hoard of ancient votive offerings, including bronze cauldrons and arrow heads, have been found in the lake and it’s a popular place for anglers. Somebody had carefully set up this little chap nearby, perhaps to encourage the local water spirits to look favourably on their fishing. The tradition of acknowledging the importance of these places continues through the millenia ……

The Pebble In Arthur’s Boot

22 Mar
Arthur's Stone, Cefn Bryn

Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn

Today we visited Arthur’s Stone at Cefn Bryn on the Gower Peninsular, a Neolithic tomb about four and a half thousand years old. It’s a very popular destination for primary school day trips in this area and there is always a steady stream of visitors as it’s quite accessible from the road. Legend has it that King Arthur stopped across the estuary and removed a stone from his boot, throwing it right across the river where it landed in its present position and grew to a mighty size. In the late seventeenth century, a large chunk of over 10 tons fell off and still lies where it fell.

I’m still using up the recycled Fabriano Accademica paper that I had previously drawn on with my home-made walnut ink, ripping it into drawing-board sized pieces and drawing with carbon and white conte crayon. I’m keeping the drawing very simple, I don’t want to get into representational detail, I’m trying to get a feeling from the places I’m visiting and putting that down on paper, if that makes sense?

Boy And Spear

20 Mar

Parc le breos 2

Yesterday I went to a local ancient site, Parc le Breos on the Gower Peninsula with Husb and one of our young nephews. There was a day of ancient events going on, showing how people lived many of thousands of years ago. We saw a flint knapper who made a stone axe-head in about 20 minutes from a few pieces of rock; wild wheat being ground between two stones then baked into flatbreads on a stone over the fire; a Neolithic stew made from bits of cow, some dried peas and wild garlic; pots were being made and fired and cooked in; clothes fashioned from deer skin; and spears thrown.

Young nephew loved the spear throwing. One end of the spear (the feathered end) was slotted into an atlatl (spear thrower) which uses leverage to greatly increase the speed of spear throwing. They have been used until at least the Upper Paleolithic, around 30,000 years ago, and still exist with some hunter gatherers today. Did a few scribbles of the nephew into my sketchbook, this is the one I liked best. I did a quick drawing with a graphite stick and then inked it with a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen.

Stone Circle And Lark Song

17 Mar

Back to the ancestral stones today with a brisk walk up Mynydd Llechart above Pontardawe to the Carn Llechart cairn circle. It’s been a gorgeous day, quite warm and very bright and sunny, deep blue skies with no clouds. The larks hovered and sang all around us and we met some jolly dog walkers, despite being miles away from anywhere.

Carn Llechart circle

It’s a simple circle, quite small stones but with a terrific view across the expansive land. I drew onto Fabriano Accademica paper that I had prepared with my home-made walnut ink and some white acrylic paint. I drew with carbon and white conte crayon. I just sketched in the shapes quite roughly and concentrated instead on making marks, getting into the physicality and pure pleasure of drawing with the sun on my face, surrounded by some of the best scenery in the world.

Facing north at Mynydd Llechart

Facing north at Mynydd Llechart

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the standing stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

Looking south at Mynydd Llechart

Looking south at Mynydd Llechart

%d bloggers like this: