Tag Archives: Rhondda Valley

Mountain Memorial

22 Apr

Carn Eiddil 2

Here’s another drawing I did en plein air up the Rhondda Valley last week. We stopped at a viewing place called Carn Eiddil and walked to the top of a pile of large rocks to look down the valley dropping away sharply beneath and there on the slope were loads of tiny memorials. They’re mostly crosses, some simply made of wood, others beautifully constructed from metal and most commemorate people, just a few are dedicated to pets.

 

 

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. This one is the legendary grave of Saint Elfys (Elvis) in Pembrokeshire, not for from the Presceli Mountains. Elfys? Presceli? Elvis Presley? Coincidence? hhhmmmm

St Elvis

Up The Rhondda

18 Apr

Rhondda

Travelling on the A4233 up the Rhondda Valley between Maerdy and Aberdare, there are a lot of viewing stops that are great for a quick scribble. It was quick too, as we were high up and it was cold and windy as well as bright and sunny. I keep to a restricted pallette of black, white and sanguine 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. This one is the legendary grave of Saint Elfys (Elvis) in Pembrokeshire, not for from the Presceli Mountains. Elfys? Presceli? Elvis Presley? Coincidence? hhhmmmm

St Elvis

A Beautiful Head

24 Nov

chizi

Just back from a life drawing session at Swansea Print Workshop – I concentrated on portraiture this week. I drew with conté crayons in white, black and sanguine. I made a Victoria Sandwich for our tea break with home made jostaberry jam. Now I’m tired and off to bed. Good night zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

I have some work in both the exhibitions below, if you’re passing through The Rhondda Valley or Cardiff, please pop in 🙂

 

 

Back With The Boomers

14 Aug

McCarthy Jane

A while back I set myself the task of drawing 100 people, relatively quick sketches, 30 minutes maximum into my sketchbook. I wasn’t sure at first how I would choose 100 people. Would they have anything in common? Would they be just random? Eventually I decided to draw my generation and I started just over a year ago, building up a portfolio of ‘Baby Boomers’, people born between 1946 and 1964.

Eventually, these will be used in a large scale installation about my generation. I haven’t decided exactly how I’ll do it yet, but I’m thinking along the lines of developing the drawings into printmaking media like silkscreen, woodcut or stamp and using these to build up small and large iconic images from our era.

It’s something that I can pick up and put down according to how much time I have and whether there’s a venue available. This month, I have been offered some days at the lovely Galerie Simpson in High Street, Swansea.   It’s a gorgeous contemporary gallery  and a great place for people to sit for me, have a cup of tea and a slice of cake and a chat about what it means to be a Baby Boomer. The conversations I’m having are an important and fascinating part of the process, these will inform the exhibition work that I will eventually do .

 

Recently, I have also been travelling across South Wales with Rhondda-born archaeologist Dewi Bowen and Swansea film maker Melvyn Williams in all weathers with my portable drawing board, portfolio of Fabriano paper and a bag full of assorted artist’s materials.  Dewi is researching his latest book on Neolithic monuments and Melvyn is making a documentary film of our literary and artistic adventures.

I’ve done around 50 drawings now and these will be exhibited in my solo show in The Worker’s Gallery in the Rhondda Valley in September. Please click here to find out more about it.

And if you want to see some of my other artwork, please click on the image below.

Quoit

Stages Of A Drawing

11 Aug

Alan 7

Just back from life drawing at Swansea Print Workshop, working with one of our regular models, an older man. I worked large, into an A2 sized brown paper sketchbook that I picked up really cheap a few years ago in New York City. Ooooh get me! I built the drawing up with chalk to start with and then made more committed lines with white conté crayon.

Alan 7b

Look. My friend brought me a set of conté crayons back from Cornellisens in London, white, sanguine and black.

Alan 7c

Then I started in with the black conté. I’ll put up the final stages of the drawing tomorrow. I’m off to bed now. Goodnight.

 

By the way, since February, I have been travelling across South Wales with Rhondda-born archaeologist Dewi Bowen and Swansea film maker Melvyn Williams; cold and stormy, hot and humid, up mountains, through slurry, mud and bog, in all weathers accompanied by my portable drawing board, portfolio of Fabriano paper and a bag full of assorted artist’s materials.  Dewi is researching his latest book on Neolithic monuments and Melvyn is making a documentary film of our literary and artistic adventures.

I’ve done around 50 drawings now and these will be exhibited in my solo show in The Worker’s Gallery in the Rhondda Valley in September. Please click here to find out more about it.

And if you want to see some of my other artwork, please click on the image below.

Quoit

The Thrill Of Tools

26 Jul

 

A lot of my art practice is preparing stuff, using tools and chemicals and getting equipment ready way before I move onto the creative bit. I’ve always loved tools and woodwork and metalwork. I was one of that generation that went to a single sex school and these subjects were not available so imagine the thrill I had when I went to art college and immersed myself in fully equipped workshops.

I spent this afternoon at Swansea Print Workshop, preparing some aluminium plates for coffee bite etching. There’s a layer of plastic film on one side, protecting the soft surface and the first job is to file the edges to get a nice chamfered edge. Then the rough filed edge has to be smoothed with a scraper and finished with a burnisher. The scraper / burnisher above is by Intaglio Printmaker Ltd in London. Finally, I peeled the plastic backing off and carefully degreased the plates with a cloth dipped in soy sauce and powdered chalk, rinsing it off with hot running water. I dried them on a hotplate ready for the coffee bite process. But that’s for another day……

 

I have been travelling across South Wales with Rhondda-born archaeologist Dewi Bowen and Swansea film maker Melvyn Williams, hunting the wild megalith, accompanied by my portable drawing board, portfolio of Fabriano paper and a bag full of assorted artist’s materials.  Dewi is researching his latest book on Neolithic monuments and Melvyn is making a documentary film of our literary and artistic adventures.

If you want to know more about my solo show in The Worker’s Gallery in the Rhondda Valley in September, please click here.

And if you want to see some of my other artwork, please click on the image below.

Quoit

Breaking Out Of The Frame @ The Workers Gallery

15 Mar

See my print installations and more artwork by me and the gallery artists throughout March and April at The Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in The Rhondda Valley. It’s a great place to visit.

I’ve been a printmaker for a long while, I majored in Printmaking in Art College back at the end of the 1970s and my lecturer, Andy Charlton a fantastic artist, was proper old school. Nothing wrong with that, but in recent years I’ve become disillusioned with the conventional way of exhibiting prints, in a frame on a pristine wall in a gleaming white gallery.

horizontal

 

I’ve always preferred art to be inclusive, rather than exclusive and so many galleries actively promote exclusivity, which puts a lot of people off even entering. And when someone does step over the doorstep, it’s very easy to walk by the rows of neatly framed artwork arranged on the pristine walls without stopping for a closer look or understanding the processes that have gone into the piece.

window 2

I’ve been trying to break out of the frame and display my printmaking in a way that develops a more interactive relationship with the viewer and also to move it into a viewing place that is more accessible than a conventional gallery. I’ve been experimenting with assembling multiple prints, starting with a work based on the cyanotype technique, a pattern for a Victorian corset and a series of sketchbook drawings of elder women.

I have exhibited them in sequence, hanging on a wall, and I also took it all apart and tied it to a clothes horse as you can see above.  I really liked the clothes airer scenario so I decided to do another.

frida paper

A while back, I had a small rubber stamp  made up from a silkscreen print I did based on the fabulous Frida Kahlo, an artist I admire very much. I printed it onto small leftover pieces of a beautiful Japanese Shiohara paper that I had been using for another print job .

I had been wondering what to do with them and I finally decided on making them up into a self-contained installation. I made a start by sewing them onto a very robust handmade paper – 300gsm – that I’d bought at the Tate Gallery a few years ago on an antique Singer sewing machine.

And then I assembled them onto a clothes airer. People seem more willing to walk around something three-dimensional and they look at the work far more than when it’s in frames on a wall.

hung

So far these works have been exhibited in an arts café, a conventional gallery, a pop-up artspace in a socially deprived area, and a shop window and will soon be going to The Workers Gallery in Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley, a much-loved community-oriented artspace in what was, until the austerity cutbacks, the local library. The challenge now is to continue to break out of the frame and to find even more socially relevant places and ways to show my work.

World of Work Workers Gallery Poster

50 Shades Of Brown

8 Nov

workers 2

Yesterday, Husb and I went to the launch of the latest exhibition, Of Site And Song, at the lovely Workers Gallery in Ynyshir. This gorgeous venue recently celebrated its first birthday. It used to be the village library but it was closed down because of austerity cutbacks and artists Gayle Rogers and Chris Williams reopened it as a charming gallery, sculpture workshop, studio and art shop. They have also created a reading area for local people to drop in and browse art books. Chris is a sculptor and he created The Rhondda Tunnel in cardboard as the centrepiece of the new exhibition.

We drove back across the mountain but instead of our usual route  via Maerdy and Aberdare, we went through Treorchy and Pontrhydyfen. Whichever way you go the views are spectacular and during the Autumn the hills are burning with 50 shades of brown. Glorious.

workers 5

 

 

Manier Noir in Ynyshir

27 Mar

blocks 5

I spent the day at the fabulous Workers Gallery and Workshop in Ynyshir in the Rhondda Valley. I did a one-day drawing residency, working on a manier noir drawing based on photographs I took of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial in the snow a couple of years ago. A lot of people came in to see what I was doing and find out more about the technique and my work. I had a lot of very interesting conversations throughout the day and I started and finished an A2 size drawing.

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The Valleys has a difficult reputation in the media, but I find people interested and engaged, maybe because there is so little investment and so few services, people seem genuinely keen on seeing what’s going on in the new gallery. I think the media image these towns have is nothing more than blatant class prejudice in my opinion. It’s easy to pick on working class communities who don’t have control over media output. I am really happy with the drawing and the discussions and feedback I had throughout the day, and grateful for the opportunity given by the gallery artists, Gayle Rogers and Chris Williams.

Up The Workers

25 Oct

Workers 1

I spent a happy day in the Rhondda village of Ynyshir, helping to paint the walls of the village’s new artspace, The Workers’ Gallery. Artists Gayle Rogers and Chris Williams are renovating the village’s old library and will be opening Wales’ newest art gallery next month.

DSC08078

I nipped outside and stood in the drizzle, having a scribble, looking down the grey stone and slate street at the fiery bracken on the mountain opposite. And I had a bit of a scribble inside too.

DSC08079

I drew into my A5 leatherbound Steampunk sketchbook with a variety of graphite blocks and Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens. The village name, Ynyshir, is Welsh and translates as Long Island. Ynys is an ancient word, similar to the Irish and Scottish words for island, Ennis and Inish.

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