Tag Archives: Gower

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 πŸ˜€

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.

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 ……..

 

 

Colour And Mark

12 Jul

colour 1

These images are from one of the exercises I ran at a women’s creative group last weekend. I called it ‘Drawing for the Terrified’ and it was a, hopefully, fun two hours that nevertheless did some serious drawing exercises.

My idea was to help inexperienced artists to gain confidence and skills while experienced artists had a chance to play and try things that maybe they hadn’t done for a while. For this one, focusing on colour and mark-making, I asked everyone to think of three significant events or people in their lives, positive or negative, and assign to each a colour and a type of mark and then to draw them onto a large, collective sheet of paper, as big or as small as they wanted. Then we took pre-cut mount (matte) boards and placed them over sections to look at the new images that emerged.

By connecting colour and mark with significant people or events, they became associated with an emotional response.

Jewel Like Intensity

11 Jul

scribble 4

Yesterday I blogged about the Action Scribbling exercise I did on Sunday, today I took some pre-cut mount (matte) boards and placed them over different parts of the large roll of multi-coloured scribble, isolating small areas from the whole and focusing attention on the detail in each of these smaller pieces. They have an amazing depth and jewel-like intensity to them.

There’s a feel of Abstract Expressionism about them and they could be framed up and hung as individual pieces of art in their own right but I’m thinking that maybe they would be good to use for collage.

Action Scribbling!

10 Jul

scribbling

I spent last Sunday with a lovely group of creative women in North Gower, gorgeous surroundings, and I ran a 2 hour art session called, ‘Drawing for the Terrified‘, where I aimed to demystify drawing and help people to feel comfortable with it. I started of with a group activity I call ‘Action Scribbling’. I taped a roll of paper along a table and put a few boxes of drawing materials out – chalky pastels, oily pastels, compressed charcoal and chalk and I asked each of the dozen participants to choose two, one for each hand and then we started to move very quickly around the table, scribbling onto the paper with both hands as we rushed around for 5 minutes. It was fun and at the end we had a table full of colour and movement, rather like a work like Jackson Pollock. I gave everyone a small mount card and asked them to find the smaller pictures within the larger one. It’s surprising what we discovered – landscapes, seascapes, beautiful abstracts…..

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.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda: Happy New Year

31 Dec

dragons head 2

Here’s Worm’s Head on the Gower Peninsula, named from the Viking Wurme which means Dragon. So it’s Dragon’s Head which in Welsh is Penddraig. Anyway, I drew this yesterday during a very bracing walk on the cliffs at Rhossili, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I used black, sanguine and white contΓ© crayon into an A4 brown paper sketchbook and worked very quickly because it was so windy and cold.

It’s the end of the old year and we’re nearly into 2018 so Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i chi, a Happy New Year to you xxxx πŸ˜€

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