Tag Archives: petroglyphs

From Pakistan To Pentre Ifan: Art, Cake And Neolithic Wales

26 Jun

My solo show, “Yr Helfa / The Hunt”, is now on at Swansea’s quirky artspace, Cinema & Co throughout July and we’re finishing with a fabulous event on Monday July 31st from 5.30 pm featuring a film from Melvyn Williams, an illustrated talk from Dewi Bowen and I’ll be launching a new edition of a lino print made especially for the event.

I am exhibiting a series of drawings made of ancestral Bronze Age and Neolithic monuments in the field – mostly muddy fields – drawn on my journey across South Wales over the past 18 months with prehistorian Dewi Bowen and filmmaker Melvyn Williams. This body of work has its roots in a life-changing journey I made to Pakistan some years ago, where I became fascinated by rock carvings over 10,000 years old.

 

Back in February 2016 I started trudging through mud and slurry, fording turbulent streams and climbing over brackish hilltops through hail, rain and snow with Dewi and Melvyn to hunt down Neolithic and Bronze Age burial chambers, ceremonial circles and standing stones that lie scattered across the landscape of Wales. Coming face to face with these ancestral symbols both of a long lost culture and of continuity in a rapidly changing world has had a profound impact on me.

Please check Cinema & Co’s Facebook page for opening times during the exhibition.

 

 

For a limited period I am putting a new drawing of an ancient monument on my Artfinder gallery every day.  If you’d like to check them out, please click on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page.

 

 

 

Little Leftover

26 Mar

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Today I packed up an edition of fourteen little lino prints to send to Boise, Idaho, USA to the lovely Wingtip Press for this year’s Leftovers print exchange. The Director, Amy Nack has been organising this for five years now and attracts miniature prints from all over the world. This year’s deadline is April the 15th.

This linoprint is based on some small sketchbook drawings I did of petroglyphs, paleolithic rock carvings, in the Karakoram Mountains in Pakistan a few years ago. The original carvings are possibly 10,000 years old . The petroglyphs are mostly of animals, mainly the ibex.

The image is 10 cm square and printed onto handmade Japanese lightweight paper with black oil-based relief / litho ink.

Hare Pair

28 Jan

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Today I finished cutting the small lino block of a hare that I started a couple of days ago. When it was completed, I liked the idea of cutting a mirror image to make a pair of hares. They’re similar, not identical and I cut them with my set of Flexcut tools, using a Flexcut Slipstrop to sharpen the gouges every 4 or 5 cuts. If you let the tools get blunt, it’s a real hassle to resharpen them, much easier to keep them sharpened as you work. And they’re pretty sharp – I managed to draw blood on 2 of my fingers, despite using a bench hook to cut on.

It’s good to get back to a simple technique like block cutting. I’m a huge fan of paleolithic art and one of the earliest art forms was rock carvings, or petroglyphs. Carving into lino or wood blocks is a similar process and although there’s no evidence that prints were taken off petroglyphs, it’s a small step to carving onto wood and using pigments to make prints. Fabric printing from blocks is thousands of years old and I feel this continuity of the practice whenever I carve a new block.

Next step is to do a proof print from each block to see if the image is complete or if I need to do any more cutting.

Steamrollers, Blocks and Chili

12 May

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It’s my last day in Boise, Idaho and I spent the morning with Amy Nack, the Wingtip Press Director, at a steamroller printing session at a local school then the afternoon back at the studio to knock out a final couple of block prints. The first is a composite of a number of petroglyphs that I drew during my visit to Snake River.

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When we were out on our road trip, I sat in the mountains and cut a small block. It’s the first time I’ve done any block cutting al fresco and it was fun. I used a soft, easy-cut block, the sort they use in schools. I haven’t used it before. Here are the results.

And here are some photos of the steamroller printing this morning. It was well over 90F and I had some fresh fruit salad Mexican style – mango, melon and pineapple sprinkled with salt and chili. Delicious.

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This residency has been supported by Wales Arts International and Arts Council Wales.

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Post-Muckiness….

8 May

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Just spent a happy couple of hours at the fabulous Wingtip Press in Boise, Idaho, proof printing some little Lino blocks I cut from drawings of Snake River petroglyphs.

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Here are the blocks inked and raring to go onto the press. It is their destiny.

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And here is my little set of four petroglyphs…….

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I used a water-based ink for the first time, Akua intaglio carbon black and I’m very impressed with the result and the ease of inking and cleaning, so I’m going to track some down when I get back to Blighty.

This artist residency has been supported by Wales Arts International and Arts Council Wales.

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Making Cuts

8 May

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Today in Boise, Idaho, I spent a very pleasant morning with Gale who blogs most excellently as Paperstew, then I gave an artist talk to some lovely printmaking students at Boise State University then spent some time at Wingtip Press, cutting some Lino blocks based on my recent drawings of petroglyphs carved into boulders at Snake River. I will proof print them tomorrow. Now I’m going to chill out and read and watch the very good public service television channel. Good night 🙂

This artist residency was partly sponsored by Wales Arts International and the Arts Council Wales.

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Harleys And Petroglyphs

6 May

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I realized today that I’m actually in the Wild West, taking a road trip to sketch in different parts of Idaho. First we went to Snake River! What a great name. We trekked through the fantastic desert landscape to find some ancient petroglyphs carved into 15,000 year old Bonneville Flood Melon Gravel boulders at Celebration Park.

It was punishingly hot and after a gorgeous picnic we set out to find Idaho City an hour or so north of Boise. Now, city is a word that described the place when it was founded about 150 years ago. It’s built of wood with boardwalks instead of pavements and dirt roads. It’s a brilliant place that looks like it’s straight out of a movie. We quenched our thirst in Harley’s Biker Bar on Main Street (there were only a couple more streets), probably the only people supping soft drinks in there. I scribbled this.

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The chaps wore leather chaps! Don’t get that at home.

This residency was partially funded by Wales Arts International and Arts Council Wales.

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In The Boise Studio

5 May

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It’s already day 5of my stay in Boise, Idaho and I’ve been working with a group of artist for three days now. We’ve been making full-color monotypes since yesterday; here are a few of them…..

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Tomorrow we’re having a break from the studio and we’re going to look at some 10,000 year old petroglyphs…….scribble time!

This residency at Wingtip Press is supported by Wales Arts International and Arts Council Wales.

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Return Of The Lurgi

27 Jan

Ooooffff! Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does with a vengeance. Serves my own right for being complacent and thinking I was well enough to go off playing in the snow instead of nursing the rotten chest infection I had. The next day I was well and truly poleaxed and I’ve been in bed for the last 4 days. I haven’t been able to blog or draw, reading hasn’t been easy because my eyes hurt so much and my body feels like I’ve been used as a doormat by a Woolly Mammoth. I haven’t been as ill as this for 25 years and that was a rotten chest infection too.

But thanks to the marvels of the Internet, my enforced bedrest was relieved by watching art documentaries on YouTube, first some on Paleolithic cave art, which is a passion of mine and then the entire BBC series with Nigel Spivey, How Art Made The World. If you haven’t see it, believe me, it’s brilliant.

 

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I saw some paleolithic art close up when I visited Pakistan a few years back. The bus driver stopped on a mountain road next to some rocks which were smothered with ‘petroglyphs’, pictures of animal and the occasional human carved into the rockface. I drew some into my travel sketchbook and when I came back, I carved some of them into lino and printed them up.

linoprint Karakoram Mythic Animal 2

I’ve been a bit bonkers about paleolithic art since.

Chalk Nude [parental guidance]

25 May

I spend a lot of time doing life drawing and studying anatomy because my practice is figurative and representational, although I take some liberties: I like Egon Schiele, Toulouse-Lautrec, van Gogh and the German Expressionists so taking liberties comes naturally. But now and again I take a BIG liberty and head towards the abstract. It happened during this particular drawing session. The model, the pose, the brown paper sketchpad I bought in New York, the set of conte crayons; all were in the right place at the right time to scribble this little abstract nude. It reminds me of petroglyphs I saw high up in the Karakoram Mountains when I visited Pakistan. They’re over 10,000 years old, picked out of the rocks with primitive tools, but they contain the essence of humans and animals, despite their abstraction. I’ve tried to work in this style since, but it’s very hard. people often look at abstracted art and say, “a child of six could do it” – they have no idea how difficult it can be.

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