Tag Archives: archaeology

A Grand Night Out

2 Mar

dewi-pontypridd

So there we were, Husb and I splashing through the torrential rain on the dark, sodden streets of Pontypridd, early evening, searching for somewhere to get some hot food fairly quickly because we were on our way to somewhere else. The only half decent place we could find was a chippy, so we sat in the warm, dry, plastic interior under fluorescent lights and scoffed our way through freshly made chips – mine with steak and kidney pie and chipshop gravy; Husb with chipshop chicken curry. Lush! Proper comfort food.

Then onto Pontypridd Heritage and Cultural Centre, which was down a lot of dark steps right by the swollen river in the dark, for a talk by prehistorian Dewi Bowen to the Pontypridd Historical Society on the Bronze Age Archaeology of the Glamorgan Uplands. Fascinating stuff. There’s Dewi above, in the dark with his illustrations on the projector. I had to have a scribble of course. All in all a grand night out……

 

I’ve been travelling across South Wales with Dewi and filmmaker Melvyn Williams regularly for the past year. Dewi is researching his new book, ‘Hunting The Wild Megalith’, based on the premise that the ancient Welsh legend, The Boar Hunt / Y Twrch Trwyth, from The Mabinogion, can be tracked across the sites of Neolithic monuments throughout the South Wales landscape and Melvyn is making a film of our journey. Here’s a short one he did late last year…..

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to see more, please click on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

Taking Time

17 Aug

Griffiths F

One of the really cool things about drawing Baby Boomers is the chance to take time to sit down and talk to people, many of whom I have known for years, but we’re always too busy for anything more than a cursory chat. As I get older, I find that time shoots by so fast and before I know it, decades have passed. It’s great to talk over stuff that’s pertinent to our generation, good and bad and this is an integral part of my work on Baby Boomers, it will all feed into the final artwork. This lovely Boomer is number 46 – almost half way there. I aim to draw 100 Boomers by the end of the year.

 

Back in February I started travelling across South Wales with Rhondda-born archaeologist Dewi Bowen and Swansea film maker Melvyn Williams, in all weathers with my portable drawing board, portfolio of Fabriano paper and a bag full of assorted artist’s materials.  Dewi is researching his latest book on Neolithic monuments and Melvyn is making a documentary film of our literary and artistic adventures.

I’ve done around 50 drawings now and these will be exhibited in my solo show in The Worker’s Gallery in the Rhondda Valley in September. Please click here to find out more about it.

And if you want to see some of my other artwork, please click on the image below.

Quoit

 

Massed Stones

13 Apr

 

Here’s the recent drawing output from the last 4 days drawing ancient ancestral stone monuments across South Wales, through Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Powys. These stones are sited along the route of Y Twrch Trwyth, The Boar’s Trail, a story from the Mabinogion, the collected myths and legends of Wales.

 

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.

Wild Walking

10 Apr
2 of the Llechdwnni standing stones

2 of the Llechdwnni standing stones

My latest day in West Wales drawing ancestral stones was the seventh so far. The time has gone by so quickly, we started in February, archaeologist Dewi Bowen, film maker Melvyn Williams and myself. The weather isn’t good now but two months ago it was brutal and the ground was sodden after months of almost ceaseless rain. On top of that, some of us were getting over Winter illnesses and although medical advice was positive about our wild walking, I found it alarming sometimes that we were far from civilisation with no phone signal. But the experience seems to be making us all fitter as we’re edging out of Winter and into Spring. Many of the stones are miles from anywhere, down roads that are not even on most maps, places that SatNav doesn’t seem to have heard of. It’s exciting discovering my country as well as my heritage. These are two of the three standing stones of Llechdwnni, near Llandyfaelog in Carmarthenshire.

Here’s a short video of me up the mountain trying to draw in the wind with a very curious Welsh pony.

Paper, Pony, En Plein Air

9 Apr

I’ve been travelling around the wild spaces of South Wales over the last seven weeks with archaeologist Dewi Bowen and film maker Melvyn Williams on Y Twrch Trwyth, The Boar’s Trail from the Mabinogion, the book of ancient Welsh legends. Melvyn is filming as Dewi researches the ancient stones for his new book and I’m drawing them. Melvyn has started to edit together some little snippets of his footage as a video diary of our journeying. This short video shows how I’m preparing my paper for drawing en plein air and also has some footage of me getting to grips with drawing in a high wind up a mountain with a pony determined to get my lunch box.

dewi melvyn

Here’s Melvyn on the left and Dewi at the Llechdwnni standing stones near Llandyfaelog, Carmarthenshire, in a muddy field.

The Sentinel

27 Feb

Sentinel

The Sentinel is a massive quartzite standing stone, the first ancient monument we met as we walked up Mynydd Llangyndeyrn, which translates from the Welsh as the Mountain of the Church of Saint Cyndeyrn. The stone was flat on the ground until 1976, when its socket was found and it was re-erected. Nobody is sure what the stone signifies although it may have been a way-marker and some think there may have been another opposite, forming a portal to the Bronze Age landscape of the Mynydd. As I circled the stone, looking for the right angle to draw it, I noticed the coastline in the distance. I was on the mountain with archaeologist Dewi Bowen and film maker Melvyn Williams and Dewi told me that the coastline was North Devon, around the Bideford area. Coincidentally I had some Bideford Black in my bag and so decided to use it to draw with. It’s a strange oily black pigment, a bit like coal, that used to be mined commercially in Bideford until the late 1960s. Local artists still dig it out and use it and I was lucky enough to be sent some back last year. It’s very possible that Bideford Black might have been traded and used many thousands of years ago.

Click here to find Dewi Bowen’s book about standing stones. Click here to see some of Melvyn Williams’ films. Click here to see my art for sale.

The Greyhound’s Kennel

20 Feb

Twlc Y Filiast

This is the first of the ancient stone monuments I drew a couple of days ago when I was trekking around muddy Carmarthenshire with an archaeologist and a film maker. The Welsh name is Twlc Y Filiast which translates as the Kennel of the (female) Greyhound, but the monument is also known as Arthur’s Table or Ebenezer’s Table. It’s a Neolithic chambered tomb. There are a number of ancient burial sites associated with greyhounds. In Welsh, greyhound is milgi (female is miliast) and means a thousand dogs (or a thousand bitches) as a greyhound was considered to be as valuable as a thousand ordinary dogs because of it’s hunting ability, absolutely vital in ancient societies.

The setting is strange and ethereal. I’m used to seeing dolmen out in the open, often overlooking the sea or set on top of a hill and it was odd seeing this in a shadowy hollow by a stream just behind the now closed* village school in Llangynog. It’s well hidden and easily missed and the route was treacherous after the many weeks of torrential rain and awful weather.

Llangynnog 1

I had almost finished the drawing when I noticed the stone face in profile, looking towards the stream and the woods on the opposite side. I drew with willow charcoal onto a vintage British paper. I had a range of drawing materials but I instinctively reached for the willow charcoal; when I reflected on my choice later I realised that I had gone for an organic, natural material that had itself come from the woods and would have been used by ancient peoples.

*Many village schools have been closed by the Welsh Government, depriving rural communities of an important resource. A national disgrace in my opinion.

The Vastness Of Time

19 Feb

Carreg Jack

I was out and about with archaeologist Dewi Bowen (left) and film maker Melvyn Williams (middle) yesterday, following a Bronze Age route to visit 4 sites of ancient stones. I was planning on drawing them all but this one turned out to be a bit on the short side and I couldn’t get any inspiration from it, to be honest and as it was so cold I didn’t want to stick around and draw it. Sometimes you just don’t find a connection with the subject matter.

Carreg Jack 2

Then I turned round and saw this! The spectacular Llansteffan Castle at the top of the hill. Glorious. So then I started thinking about combining the two images sometime. But not in the cold on the beach in the wind. It’s a sofa job with Adobe Photoshop.

This standing stone is ‘Carreg Fawr Nant Jack‘, which translates from the Welsh as ‘The Big Stone at Jack’s Ford’. Although it looks small now, there’s a lot of it under the sand and in the past it stood on pasture land where it would have been much taller. There’s a huge timescale captured in these two photos. The castle is almost a thousand years old, but was built on the site of a much older Iron Age fort, about another thousand years earlier, and the Bronze Age ‘Carreg Fawr Nant Jack’ could be a couple of thousand years older again.

MUD!!!

18 Feb

Maen I Llwydion 3

A great day out today, scrambling across the West Wales countryside with irrepressible archaeologist Dewi Bowen and inquisitive film maker Melvyn Williams, finding ancient burial sites and standing stones and drawing in the mud. This site is called Meini Llwydion (Grey Stones) and it’s near Llangynog in Carmarthenshire. After almost 4 months of rain, the ground was absolutely sodden, despite the bright, dry, sunny weather today. The mud put my new walking boots through their paces and the mud won.

Maen I Llwydion 2

People often assume that artists have an easy time of it, sitting around dabbing a bit of paint in warmth and comfort, but here’s the reality – wrestling with a drawing board in a quagmire! The acres of liquid slurry finally got the better of me and I gave up on the drawing board and loose sheets and I drew into my Daler Rowney ‘Ebony’ sketchbook with a white conte crayon. We’ll be continuing this journey across Bronze Age South Wales intermittently in coming months, as Dewi researches for his new book, Melvyn makes his documentary film and I draw inspiration from my ancestors marks on the environment.

Walking The Labyrinth

26 Sep

Here’s 3 minutes of my feet walking the lovely labyrinth made from chipped bark by archaeologist Dewi Bowen and musician David Pitt in The Bagpuss Window this week. The feet are not interesting at all, except it looks like I have my shoes on the wrong feet, but the accompanying gong music from David is wonderful. Go with the flow…….

Dewi has written an excellent book about Siluria, now South-East Wales, and its ancient standing stones, burial chambers, cairns and stone circles. Well worth a read and dead cheap.

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