Tag Archives: Mari Lwyd

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

 

 

 

Face To Face With A Dead Horse

13 Jan

ystrad mari 1

 

Husb and I are spending a few days in The Lake District with family and I have taken a break from drawing.  It’s great scenery around here but I’m not much of a landscape person to be honest, I’d rather draw cityscapes.  I did a lot of drawings last weekend at Gellionen Chapel’s Mari Lwyd event, here’s a close up of the Mari’s head. Quite gruesome I suppose if you’re not used to the tradition,  but the Mari Lwyd is really funny in ‘person’.

ystrad mari 2

 

 

 

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.

A Strange Place

9 Jan

exterior gellionen

Husb and I went to chapel last Sunday. Yes, that’s right, not something we would ever normally do. we went to see the Ystradgynlais Mari Lwyd at the Gellionen Unitarian chapel up on Gellionen Mountain. It was freezing cold but very sunny so I strolled out into the landscape and had a scribble into my A4 brown paper sketchbook with conté crayons in white, sanguine and black. There was a fantastic view that stretched down the mountains all the way to a glimpse of Swansea Bay with Mumbles in the background.

 

exterior gellionen 2

 

The chapel is very old, dating from 1692 and is close to the sight of a much older Celtic church, Llan Eithrim. It’s set in a hollow surrounded by trees in a very atmospheric setting.

 

Chuffed To Bits

22 Nov

mono 10 chine

 

I just heard today that I have had 2 artworks accepted into the Swansea Open exhibition, running from December the 3rd to January the 6th. It’s returned after a gap of about 5 years, while the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery was closed and being refurbished, and it’s great to see it back. I’m chuffed to bits as Swansea is full of talented artists and the competition is stiff.

 

mari 2

 

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.

The Sinister Skull

27 Jan

mono-12

I thought I had blogged all the monotypes I made from my Mari Lwyd drawings but I overlooked this one. It was the last that I did that day and maybe because I was tired and hungry, it’s probably the most sinister of the series. Mari Lwyd is actually quite a fun tradition, with lots of banter, drinking and skittishness although people unfamiliar with it are often spooked by the horse’s skull!

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

The Last Mari For Now

20 Jan

mono-11-chine

Here’s the last of the monotypes I made recently at Swansea Print Workshop based on my drawings of the Mari Lwyd. I used a vintage paper made by J Green and Sons supplied by the rather wonderful company The Vintage Paper Co in The Orkneys. The ink is Caligo Easy Wash Relief and the chine collé is hand made recycled sari paper stuck on with YES Paste. I used cotton buds (Q Tips), wooden barbecue skewers, scrim (tarlatan) and cotton rags for the mark making.

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

The Right Combo

17 Jan
mono-10-chine

Mari Lwyd (with chine colle)

Spent the day at Swansea Print Workshop making more monotypes based on the drawings I did while I followed around two local Mari Lwyd in December and January. I’m experimenting to find the right combination of ink, paper and glue (for the chine collé). I originally used Bockingford, Somerset then switched to a vintage paper by J Green & Sons (supplied by the Vintage Paper Co in Orkney). Today I just used the J Green paper which doesn’t need soaking, just a little spritz of clean water

Last time I tried out Intaglio Printmaker’s Litho / Relief oil-based ink with varying amounts of Extender but found it too tacky, it was quite hard to work the drawing onto the plate and it didn’t want to release the chine collé when it went through the press, so today I gave Caligo Easy Wash Relief ink a go. It worked much better although it was too loose to hold fine detail through the printing press.

Previously, I tried Pritt for the chine collé but today I used ‘YES’ paste which was much easier to apply and stuck the light tissues to the main print perfectly. Very impressed with it. I’ve changed everything from my starting point, it can take some time and experimentation to get the right combo.

mono-10-ghost

The ‘ghost’ print

After taking the first print with chine collé, I put another sheet of the dampened J Green paper onto the plate and took a ‘ghost’ print which I will work into with artist-quality oil pastels or maybe collage.

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

Printing The Plate

16 Jan

mono-9-chine

After preparing the plate with my image of a Mari Lwyd, I printed it on one of the smaller etching presses at Swansea Print Workshop. For this one I used a vintage paper, by J Green & Sons that was manufactured between 1969 and 1974, sourced from the Vintage Paper Co. I didn’t have to soak it, just a spritz with clean water from a squirty bottle. That saved some time and hassle. It gave a good dense black and plenty of definition.

mono-9-ghost

I put another piece of spritzed paper through to take a ghost print which didn’t, of course, have any chine collé. I’m thinking of working into this with top quality oil pastels.

 

 

I am putting my series of drawings of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to buy one, you can see them by clicking on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

St Elvis

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