Tag Archives: Laare Vane

Doing A Stretch

16 Jan

gellionen 4

Sketching en plein air at Gellionen Chapel last weekend was like sketching anywhere else, the first one or two drawings are quick warm-up sketches, a bit like doing stretches before exercising or running. They get you into the mood, into the flow and also recognise that drawing is a very physical activity. This is my first sketch of the day, very quick, intuitive, getting a feel for the space that the subject occupies.

 

Big Scary ‘Oss

15 Jan

gellionen 3

Here’s another drawing from my visit to Gellionen Chapel last Sunday for the service featuring the Ystrad Mari Lwyd. There are different incarnations of the Mari Lwyd across the UK and in parts of England she pops up as the Hobby Horse or ‘Obby ‘Oss and is usually associated with celebrations around May Day, rather than the Welsh New Year (Hen Galan).

When I draw en plein air, in public, I have to work quickly as people tend to move about. I’ve found that doing two or three drawings at the same time means that I can respond flexibly and switch between them. I got up close to the Mari a few times and managed to draw her face on. She alternated between being very mischievous and extremely scary.

It’s That Horse Again!

13 Jan

gellionen 1

Husb and I visited the beautiful Gellionen Chapel this morning for their annual Hen Galan service with the Ystradgynlais Mari Lwyd. Hen Galan is an old tradition in parts of West Wales where people celebrate the New Year according to the old Julian calendar, which places the new year around two weeks after the official one. Of course, I had to have a scribble!

 

A Very Quick Dead Horse

16 Jan

mari siglo

Here’s the last drawing I did of the Ystradgynlais Mari Lwyd when it appeared at Gellionen Unitarian chapel a couple of weeks ago. I did it in a few seconds so I had to just get down the fundamental details of what I was looking at. I used mostly white conté crayon, a stub on its side, with a couple of very quick details in sanguine and black. Speedy drawings are good for getting down proportions and spacing, I find.

mari siglo 2

 

Mari Lwyd is the ancient Welsh tradition linking back to the ancient Celtic / Gaulish goddess Epona and the Welsh mythological horse goddess and Queen of the Underworld Rhiannon from the Mabinogion. The New Year is welcomed by parading a life size puppet constructed around the skull of a horse along with a group of characters who each have a role to play in the celebrations.  There are links to a similar traditions in the UK, the Laare Vane (White Mare) on the Isle of Man and the Hobby Horse in parts of England. The tradition had almost died out by the mid 20th century after decades of opposition from Christian ministers across Wales, but it is now undergoing an enthusiastic revival.

Mari Lwyd’s Friends

14 Jan

maris friends 1

 

Mari Lwyd, the ancient Welsh tradition linking back to the ancient Celtic goddess Epona and the mythological Rhiannon, welcomes the new year by parading a life size puppet constructed around the skull of a horse along with a group of characters who each have a role to play in the celebrations. These characters vary from group to group and the Ystrad Fari Lwyd (from Ystradgynlais) includes a character in white representing the New Year and one in black representing the old year. They carry decorated sticks with bells on.

 

maris friends 2

Mari Lwyd’s friends at Gellionen Chapel

 

 

 

The Old Chapel

10 Jan

interior gellionen 1

Husb and I went to the old Gellionen Chapel last Sunday for a service that included Mari Ystrad, the Mari Lwyd from Ystradgynlais. The chapel, dating from the 1600s, is gorgeous and decorated with fresh boughs of holly. The service started with lighting a large candle and was not overtly religious, as the Unitarians welcome people of all faiths and none.

interior gellionen 2

Inside Gellionen Chapel with Mari Lwyd and her companions

 

The Mari Lwyd is an old Welsh tradition that  echoes back to ancient Celtic worship of the horse goddess Epona. There are links to a similar traditions in the UK, the Laare Vane (White Mare) on the Isle of Man and the Hobby Horse in parts of England.

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