Tag Archives: Epona

And Finally….

25 Jan

Mari Port Talbot

Here’s the last of the Mari Lwyds I sketched at the recent Gower Wassail. This one’s from Port Talbot, the Cwmafan Mari who was bedecked loads of bows. That should be the last of the Mari Lwyds until next New Year …..

The Cheeky Mari From Pembrokeshire

18 Jan

Mari benfro

This is another sketch of a Mari Lwyd I did last weekend at the Hen Galan festivities in the Gower Heritage Centre. This Mari came all the way from Pembrokeshire and her keeper knew who she was when she was alive – she was a stallion! But he’s been reincarnated as a Mari Lwyd, linking back thousands of years to the Celtic goddess Epona, or Rhiannon in Welsh mythology. Each of the Mari Lwyds is different, they have their own personalities and Mari Benfro (Pembroke Mari) is exceptionally cheeky and lively.

 

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.

Ready To Print

3 Jan

cut

I finished cutting a Mari Lwyd skull into my vinyl block. I’ll print it this weekend, using Japanese Hosho paper and Caligo Cranfield ‘Safe Wash‘ relief printing ink, with maybe a hint of chine collé.  I was going to do two skulls but I think the one at the back would make it too crowded so I haven’t cut it.

 

The Mari Lwyd (Grey Mare) is a manifestation of the ancient Celtic horse goddess, Epona – or Rhiannon in Wales, and might even be linked to the earliest cave paintings of shamen in their animal masks. She makes her appearance in the Welsh tradition during Hen Galan, or the ‘old’ New Year based on the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar which is usually celebrated around the 13th of January.

You can order your own Mari Lwyd, a flat pack horse skull kit designed by David Pitt here….

A Flat Pack Mari Lwyd

2 Jan

Mari Lwyd 2020

Mari Lwyd time will soon be here and I’ve been doing a little lino cut to make some cards to celebrate. She’s a manifestation of the ancient Celtic horse goddess, Epona – or Rhiannon in Wales, and might even be linked to the earliest cave paintings of shamen in their animal masks. She makes her appearance in the Welsh tradition during Hen Galan, or the ‘old’ New Year based on the Julian rather than the Gregorian calendar which is usually celebrated around the 13th of January.

 

flat pack

A flat-pack Mari Lwyd kit designed by David Pitt and sold by ‘trac’

Horse skulls are a bit hard to come by these days, but if you want your own Mari Lwyd, you can order a flat pack horse skull kit here….

The Swansea Open

29 Nov

mari siglo

The Swansea Open, December 8th to February 2nd 2019, Glynn Vivian art gallery.

I just heard today that I have had 2 artworks accepted into the Swansea Open exhibition and I’m chuffed to bits as Swansea is full of talented artists and the competition is stiff. I submitted two monotypes of the Mari Lwyd, based on drawings I did in my sketchbook at the end of last year. The Mari Lwyd is an ancient Welsh tradition, where groups of revellers wander the streets and pubs accompanied by a life size puppet constructed around a decorated horse’s skull. It may hark back to the worship of the Celtic horse goddess, Epona and has links with Wassailing, May Day hobby horses and Yule celebrations..

Mari thumbnail

The two pieces are intaglio prints – an etching and a mezzotint – that I made during a weekend course with accomplished printmaker Andrew Baldwin at Trefeglwys Print Studios a couple of months ago. It’s a beautiful studio in an ancient building in Powys and I learnt so much from Andrew. He has developed an innovative low toxicity etching ground – B.I.G. – that can be used in both traditional and inventive ways. You can find out more about it here.

Exhausted But Happy!

9 Sep

plate prep

Just back from a very tiring weekend printmaking course at Trefeglwys Print Studio. It was fantastic. I learned so much and came away with a number of prints I’d be happy to exhibit and two new etching plates to edition and an etching plate to work on and finish. Result. I’m shattered now though. The first thing we did was prepare a copper plate for a ‘faux’ mezzotint, a process invented by Trefeglwys printmaker Andrew Baldwin. I think the plate is a work of art in itself.

plate prep2

I had some drawings to work from, I decided to develop three plates from my sketches of the Mari Lwyd and the faux mezzotint will be based on the middle drawing. More tomorrow, off to bed now ……..

 

 

May Day, Beltane And The Horse

1 May

mono 11 chine

It’s May Day, Beltane, and in some parts of Britain the Hobby Horse, or ‘Obby ‘Oss, is part of the festivities marking the beginning of Springtime fertility. There is a long tradition, predating Christianity, of celebrations involving horses, possibly linked to the ancient Celtic horse goddess, Epona. Here in Wales we have the Mari Lwyd, or Grey Mare, although this is a New Year tradition. Here’s a monotype from sketches of the Ystrad Mari I did earlier this year.

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