Tag Archives: funerals

Art-In-A-Box

17 Jan

17 box 2

I’ve not blogged for a couple of days. Dad-in-law’s funeral was yesterday and I haven’t really felt like doing anything arty but last week I was working flat out on this piece-in-a-box for Art’s Birthday – which is TODAY. Organised by Locws International, my work has been installed along with 9 other pieces-in-boxes in the Oxfam bookshop in Castle Street in Swansea. It was based on some drawings and digital photographs I took of the Berlin holocaust memorial in deep snow a couple of years ago.

17 box 1

I did a drawing in Faber Castell Pitt pens (various sizes in black) onto Mark Resist (Mylar) film, 20 inches square and mounted it about one-third inside the box. I printed out a lightened version of the first drawing I did of this topic, a couple of years back, and stuck segments of it to the interior walls, leading the eye into the main drawing. Finally I printed out the original digital photograph and stuck it onto the side of the box. Oh and Husb mounted an LCD light inside so it can be seen at night. Very different from my usual work.

Sad Day, Happy Flowers

31 Jul

Yesterday was a sad one, the funeral of my dear aunt who died after a long illness, aged 87. Although we had been expecting it for some time, it’s still a shock and grieving is hard. She’s the last of her generation on that side of my family, which means that my cousins and sibling and I are now the elders. That’s a sobering thought for a bunch of baby boomers who still feel like we’re 25 – well in our heads anyway. She lived through World War Two and before that had suffered terrible poverty during the Great Depression. Her husband of 66 years and childhood sweetheart had gone to school without shoes or socks, whatever the weather. We, thankfully, have no idea of that level of poverty anymore. They created the welfare state after the war, the National Health Service, free universal education, decent housing, social services, pensions, all done for our benefit, to make sure we didn’t suffer the deprivation they had. And now we see selfish millionaire public-schoolboy politicians trying to dismantle what that brave generation worked so hard and so selflessly to achieve. I have no words to describe my contempt.
As we waited in the watery sunshine for the hearse to arrive at the pretty little church in Waunarlwydd, I noticed a small group of pale purple pansies growing out of a crack at the base of the step leading into the church. Nobody had doused them with weedkiller and people stepped over them carefully. I love pansies, they have those daft little faces in the middle of their nodding heads with big ears. It cheered me up to see them surviving in such an unlikely place, so I drew them in my sketchbook.

 

 

Drawings For A Dead Biker

29 May

There’s an odd little church nearby for born-again-bikers; the pastor and church members are outlaw bikers who have converted to Christianity and today they held a funeral for one of their members. There were hundreds of motorbikes, some really gorgeous ones – Triumphs, Harleys, a few vintage and everyone turned up in full colours as a mark of respect. They were from all over the place and were not just the Christian bikers [whose colours bear the logo ‘God Squad’]. It was a great scribbling opportunity and as I was sketching it took me back to my own wild youth, I was a biker chick and rode several BSAs and a Triumph. The occasion reminded me of two of my old biker friends who died from tragic accidents, ironically not involving motorbikes, when they were in their twenties. It’s over two decades ago now but today’s funeral brought the grief back very suddenly and sharply. When people die, we struggle on and gradually the grief fades into the background, but never really goes away, waiting to be activated by something, like it was earlier.

I don’t know the biker whose funeral it was today – someone said his name was Baz – his friends did him proud. It was a fantastic turnout; the streets around were full and the police held up the traffic so the hearse could be accompanied by an unbroken convoy of hundreds of motorbikes. My friend, neighbour and fellow artist, Mel, posted photos of the cortege on Facebook here. It was good discipline for me to sketch a crowd, I normally work with single figures so I need to practice putting people together, getting the perspective and proportions right. I also rarely draw inanimate objects, so doing the bikes was a challenge – how do designers cope with it? Their brains, and patience, must be phenomenal!

Teacher, Artist, Great British Eccentric

12 Apr

Ink sketch: Pat's send-off.

Today was one of those days where I experienced the meaning of the word ‘bittersweet’. I went with many others to the funeral of Pat Briggs, a Swansea-based artist, printmaker and sculptor who taught me in my first year at Swansea Art College, on my Foundation year, almost 40 years ago. We both stuck around Swansea [apart from a few years I spent over the border] and I grew to know her as a fellow artist and great eccentric as well as a valued teacher and mentor. She was born in 1930 and was one of the very few women of her generation to gain a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art, a great achievement and one of those amazing women that paved the way for my [and subsequent] generations of female artists. Her final illness lasted just a few months but before that she was still an active practitioner, making prints and drawings, using digital media and wandering around the city with her ubiquitous shopping trolley, collecting found objects for her witty and often bizarre sculptures. Here’s a link to the Swansea Print Workshop Facebook page, with Kara Seaman’s photograph of Pat making a print in her final year.

It may seem a bit odd doing a drawing at a funeral, but this is the second one I have done recently, both at funerals of artists. I feel it’s my way, as an artist, to honour their memory. I’d like artists to draw at my funeral. Here is the view from my seat at Swansea Crematorium earlier today. People of all ages came to pay their last respects, from babes in arms to octogenarians. Even the vicar is a former student of hers. It’s a great thing to have a good teacher, something our politicians should take note of. A good teacher will inspire you for life, not just cram you through exams and Pat, a VERY blunt Northerner who didn’t mince words, taught me in my first year at art college about the value of constantly criticising and reevaluating what I’m doing and I’ll always be thankful to her for that.Today was bitter because we’ll miss her but sweet to remember a woman who lived her long life to the full and achieved more than most could even hope for.

Pat Briggs. Artist. 1930-2012.

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