Tag Archives: Powys

The Swansea Open

29 Nov

mari siglo

The Swansea Open, December 8th to February 2nd 2019, Glynn Vivian art gallery.

I just heard today that I have had 2 artworks accepted into the Swansea Open exhibition and I’m chuffed to bits as Swansea is full of talented artists and the competition is stiff. 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 and has links with Wassailing, May Day hobby horses and Yule celebrations..

Mari thumbnail

The two pieces are intaglio prints – an etching and a mezzotint – that I made during a weekend course with accomplished printmaker Andrew Baldwin at Trefeglwys Print Studios a couple of months ago. It’s a beautiful studio in an ancient building in Powys and I learnt so much from Andrew. He has developed an innovative low toxicity etching ground – B.I.G. – that can be used in both traditional and inventive ways. You can find out more about it here.

The Ancient Yew

27 May

Yew 1

Husb and I drove up through mid and north Wales yesterday to go to a John Cale gig in Liverpool. It was awesome! On the way, we took an idyllic shortcut between Beulah and Newbridge on Wye and stopped for a spot of lunch at the venerable old Red Lion Inn at Llanafan Fawr. Opposite the pub is the church of Saint Afan and in the churchyard is an ancient yew, around 2,200 years old.

Yew 2

Of course, I had to have a scribble. It is huge and forms a dark cave around it’s enormous trunk, or network of trunks where there are fallen gravestones, so old that the carved writing has all but disappeared. It was very spooky and Gothic in there. I drew with black, sanguine and white conté crayon into my A4 brown paper sketchbook.

 

 

I have put my series of drawings en plein air of ancient Welsh monuments on Artfinder.  If you want to see more, please click on the image below or the Artfinder link at the top right of this page. So did you know that Elvis Presley is descended from the Welsh? This drawing below is the legendary grave of Saint Elfys (Elvis) in Pembrokeshire, not for from the Presceli Mountains. Elfys? Presceli? Elvis Presley? Coincidence? hhhmmmm

St Elvis

Close Up

18 Jun

Maen Llia 1

Here’s a closer view of the drawing I did of Maen Llia yesterday. We drove up to the Black Mountains in changeable weather but, as often happens, as soon as we stopped the car, thick black clouds loomed over the hills and dropped torrential rain onto us. Nearly Midsummer and we’re huddled in the rain!!!! Anyway, it cleared up after a while and I walked through the mud down to the stone which is a couple of hundred yards from the road. I worked on top of some Fabriano Accademica paper prepared with charcoal, white acrylic paint and my own home-made walnut ink. When I was preparing the paper, I was allowing myself to be influenced by impressions and memories of the landscapes I had been visiting on my hunt for the wild megalith. I drew firstly with compressed charcoal, drawing lines over and over again, taking a sensory pleasure in just drawing lines. Lines are beautiful. Then I chose from my box of Daler Rowney soft pastels and worked in impressions of sky, hills, pasture, mosses, lichens.

I overlaid the stone onto the background, without making it solid, keeping a transparency because that’s sort of how I feel about the stones, that they are echoes from the ancestors overlaid onto modern life; they are mostly not noticed by us, even less understood, hiding in plain sight.

 

I’ve been travelling around South Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen, who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Also with us  is film maker Melvyn Williams, recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. If you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

 

The Licking Stone

17 Jun

Maen Llia 2

 

I’ve been travelling around South Wales drawing ancestral stones since February and today I paid a return visit to Maen Llia. I loved it so much the first time that I wanted to go back and draw it again from a different angle and also to spend some time there absorbing the atmosphere. Last time I drew the stone from a distance but today I went up really close and was surprised to see that it’s made of uncharacteristic red sandstone, heavily pitted over its surface, interspersed with thick colonies of mosses and lichens. There was graffiti carved into it’s surface – from the 1860s! I walked down to the stream that it is reputed to sometimes drink from – Maen Llia translates from Welsh as ‘The Licking Stone’. It’s a magical site.

 

I’ve been travelling around South Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen, who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Also with us  is film maker Melvyn Williams, recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. If you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

Mud, Stones And Ice Cream

1 Apr

Nant Tarw circle

Yesterday we trekked up the mountain near Trecastle to visit the Nant Tarw stone circles and cairn. The Bronze Age circles are made up of small, rather insignificant stones and although fascinating historically and culturally, they were not particularly inspiring visually. However, the scenery was absolutely spectacular, with the Fan Brycheiniog face of Mynydd Du (the Black Mountain) in the distance.

Nant Tarw circle 2

I used Fabriano paper prepared with my own home-made walnut ink. I choose each piece carefully, looking between the paper and the subject until a  piece of paper suggests itself to me. I took a non-representational stance with this drawing, barely sketching the outline of the stones in white conte crayon in the foreground and focussing on the snow strewn Fan Brycheiniog instead, using white conte, black carbon and a pale blue oil pastel for the sky.

Nant Tarw landscape

We walked back by a more direct route, following the River Usk down to the car park. Although it was quicker, it was much rougher terrain and despite the glorious sunshine, the ground was boggy and muddy after months of almost unbroken rain. Although we were near the source of the Usk and it was quite narrow, the river banks were slippery, treacherous with deep, very deep, mud. I was about to cross onto a stepping stone and suddenly my left leg disappeared up to my knee in slurping sludge, my balance went and I pitched backwards into the thick mire, covering myself in the oozing mud from the waist down, to the mirth of my fellow travellers. Luckily I was wearing good boots and waterproof trousers and jacket, which saved my clothes but not my dignity. We gave up then and went off to Brecon for an icecream.

Larks Hovered, Kites Circled, I Drew…

31 Mar

The Cairn 2

Out and about again today with archaeologist Dewi Bowen and film maker Melvyn Williams searching out ancient stone monuments. We had a tough walk up to a late Neolithic stone cairn on Mynydd Bach Trecastell not far from the little village of Trecastle in Powys. To be honest, the cairn wasn’t particularly interesting, I’ve seen better, but it’s site is truly spectacular. We walked about 2 miles to get there, mostly uphill and across, firstly, the Usk tributary Nant Tarw, up and over the mountain and secondly crossed the river Usk, relatively small as we were near its source.

Mynydd Du Fan Brycheinog

In the distance is The Black Mountain, Y Mynydd Du, huge and slab like and covered with snow which stratified into black and white stripes like a 1960s op art painting. This became the focus of my drawing as much as the stones on the small cairn. Fan Brycheiniog is the part facing me here. Despite the snow in the distance, we were pretty warm after our strenuous walk in the clear, bright Spring sunshine. Song larks hovered and sang all around us, groups of soldiers ran past us on manouvres (they looked terribly young) and red kites (barcud in Welsh) circled, eventually landing on the cairn after we left, to see if there were any pickings.

kite

I’m travelling around South West Wales with archaeologist Dewi Bowen who is researching his new book on Neolithic / Bronze Age monuments. His previous book on the standing stones of Ancient Siluria (South East Wales) can be found here. Accompanying us is film maker Melvyn Williams who is recording a documentary about our experiences. Some of Melvyn’s short films can be seen here. I’m working on a series of expressive drawings of ancestral sites and if you want to see some of my other artworks, please click here.

The Fall of the House of Frolic

5 Jun

It’s been one of those typical British Summer days – cold and pouring down with rain, so husb and I have been following a typical British Bank Holiday tradition of Do-It-Yourself and we wallpapered the bedroom. I’ve spent nearly all evening filling out an online application for the Royal Society of Painter Printmakers first Open printmaking competition. These things always take much more time than I anticipate so I’ve done no arty stuff today at all. So I’m reposting a very funny spoof history of a little Welsh town from a series being written by a local writer. Hope you enjoy it and back to some art tomorrow.

The Fall of the House of Frolic.

ps if you’re a printmaker, there’s still time to submit work for the competition. Oh and there’s a transit of Venus happening soon – not that we’ll see anything here in the pouring rain lol

Frolic ye not

2 Jun

Oh dear, another madcap history of a little Welsh town. This time it’s Newtown’s turn to be at the receiving end of Notsogreatdictator’s bonkers view of history 😀

Frolic ye not.

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