Tag Archives: traditions

The Dim Mare

24 Jan

Mari Gwyr

It’s been Mari Lwyd season here in Wales, an ancient tradition harking back to the worship of the Celtic horse goddess. There have been quite a few Maris stalking the area and they’re all different, they all have their own personalities. Here’s a quick sketch of Mari Gwyr, the Gower Mari. She’s plainer than most and her strange headgear, a cross between a beret and a beanie, make her look a bit dim, in my opinion.

Here Comes Mayhem

23 Jan

Plygain 6

At the Plygain celebration over the weekend, after there had been plenty of Welsh carols sung and a break for tea and snacks, we had some surprise visitors. Some local Wassailers accompanied by the Coppertown Mari Lwyd (Mari Trecopr). We moved quickly from traditional Xmas hymns to Mari-led mayhem.

Plygain 5

The Mari Lwyd arrives with her companions and knocks on the door to be let in. It’s the job of the people inside to keep the mischieveous Mari out so there’s a battle of wits and rhyme – a sort of ancient rap battle – until the Mari and her gang are let in. This frisky Mari tried to knock back a glass of mulled wine!

This wonderful evening of Welsh tradition was led by David Pitt (who inhabits the Mari) and Margot Morgan, who organises the Aderyn Du (Black Bird) Brynmill Community Choir.

Scribbling Singing

21 Jan

Plygain 3

Here are a couple more sketches I did at the Plygain celebration last weekend in Swansea. Plygain is a Welsh language carolling tradition going back at least to the 13th century. It had almost died out but is now going through a healthy revival. In the past, families would have precious books of Plygain carols handed down through generations. Plygain is competitive – carollers take it in turns to sing and no carol can be performed more than once during the service, so these ancient family books of Plygain carols are precious.

Plygain 4

I sketched the carollers as they sang. The top drawing was done using the continuous line method – it’s easier to judge perspective and proportion I find. Then a few speed sketches just of heads.

Toffee Evening, Noson Gyflaith

20 Jan

Plygain 2

I carried on sketching at the Welsh Plygain celebration, while all the rest sang. Traditionally, Plygain took place in church at around 3am on Xmas morning and ended at first light. People generally stayed up all night, doing all sorts of things to keep awake. One that was popular with younger people was the making of Cyflaith (toffee) and Christmas Eve was often known as Noson Gyflaith – Toffee Evening. Games were played and stories told to stop people from dozing off.

Plygain is unaccompanied carol singing in the Welsh language and traditionally was only sung by men, but these days it’s undergoing a revival and everyone can join in. I sketched some of the men at last night’s Plygain. I used the continuous line method as I find it’s the best to get the right proportions and perspective in a roomful of people.

Drawing The Singing

19 Jan

Plygain 1

Husb and I went to a Plygain celebration this evening, a very traditional Welsh singing event. Plygain was at it’s height between the 17th and 19th centuries, although there is a mention of something similar in the Red Book of Hergest in the 13th century. But by the early 19th century opposition from the church sent it into decline and it only survived in a few places in Wales. Like many other traditions though, it’s making a comeback. I don’t like singing so I scribbled instead.

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.

Exhausted But Happy!

9 Sep

plate prep

Just back from a very tiring weekend printmaking course at Trefeglwys Print Studio. It was fantastic. I learned so much and came away with a number of prints I’d be happy to exhibit and two new etching plates to edition and an etching plate to work on and finish. Result. I’m shattered now though. The first thing we did was prepare a copper plate for a ‘faux’ mezzotint, a process invented by Trefeglwys printmaker Andrew Baldwin. I think the plate is a work of art in itself.

plate prep2

I had some drawings to work from, I decided to develop three plates from my sketches of the Mari Lwyd and the faux mezzotint will be based on the middle drawing. More tomorrow, off to bed now ……..

 

 

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

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