Tag Archives: The Black Mountain

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.

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