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I am having a brilliant time working with 180 children at Narberth School to make a glass quilt on the theme of food and farming. All the pieces are now painted and ready for firing. The children are really enjoying the project:

“This project is great because we get to actually paint our own designs and I feel really proud of my work. I can’t wait to see it all finished.”

 

This week I started an ambitious project at Narberth School. Working with 180 children aged 8 to 11 I am making a traditional Pembrokeshire quilt out of glass on the them of food and farming. The children loved the project and by the end of May will have a colourful new artwork for their school.

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I am just back from the celebration of Skokholm Island’s reinstatement as a Bird Observatory. Skokholm was Britain’s first Bird Observatory, established by Ronald Lockley in 1933, and has just celebrated its reinstatement as an active bird ringing station. Rachel Phillips and I have made a window for the island toilet (the only place we could persuade the ornithologists that maybe privacy was more important than bird-watching!). The window is inspired by the history of the island from its days as a medieval rabbit warren through to the early naturalist years of Ronald Lockley to the present day, and celebrates the unique flora and fauna found there.

Time on the island researching the window last year has opened up many ideas in my work and has inspired me to compile a proposal for future work on the island. Once again, working with Rachel was a fabulous experience.

This video documents the making process. Thanks to Ceri Owen Jones for kind permission to use his music on the video.

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Bonne Maman, engraved jam jar, tooth, pound coin. 2013

Apologies for not posting since September, but I have been head down in the studio working on a new body of work courtesy of winning the Adrian Henri Poetry in Art Prize. Apart from being a huge boost to morale, the award has enabled me to buy a new kiln, sand blaster and grinder and has given me 5 months in my studio.

Birth Of The Simple Light, painted fused glass 20 x 23 x 2.5cm

Birth Of The Simple Light, painted fused glass 20 x 23 x 2.5cm

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River Day, fused painted glass, 12 x 14 x 1.5

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Strand, fused, painted glass, 12 x 14.4 x 1.5cm

Calm Light, Fused painted glass, 20 x 20 x 2cm

Calm Light, Fused painted glass, 20 x 20 x 2cm

Apart from this I have been working on a window for Skokholm Island with Rachel Phillips. We will be installing the window at Easter in time for a grand opening of the Island Bird Observatory at the end of April. I would love to develop some of my Skokholm ideas more fully and am currently researching the feasibility of undertaking a more in-depth project on the island.

Skokholm window in progress.

Skokholm window in progress.

I continue to develop my work with children and recently worked with pupils of Ysgol y Frenni in Crymych. I am committed to the value of drawing as a learning tool. The importance of offering creative observational experiences was brought home to me recently when a primary school teacher told me how she has noticed in the last five years that increasing numbers of children are coming into school unable to actually look at anything that is not moving on a screen in front of them.

Drawing the Preseli Hills with pupils from Ysgol y Frenni, Crymych.

Drawing the Preseli Hills with pupils from Ysgol y Frenni, Crymych.

This year the gallery will be open by arrangement to enable me to devote more time to developing new work. If you would like to visit please email me or phone to make an appointment.

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Courtesy of a Continuing Professional Development Award from the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and support from the Arts Council of Wales, this week I am up in Caithness at North Lands Glass Centre on a masterclass with Australian glass artist, Deborah Cocks. Deborah is a glass painter who works mostly on blown glass forms.

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The masterclass gives me the chance to immerse myself in glass painting for 8 days and learn from Debs and the other students approaches to the materials. This is the first time I have used paint in relation to a 3d form so there is plenty to think about!

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I am experimenting with engraving and layering text and paint in new ways, inspired, as always by history, the land and the human shaping of it.

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For me this is an opportunity to prepare for an intensive time in my studio this autumn and winter when I have carved out five months to concentrate on my own work funded by the Adrian Henri Poetry in Art Prize which I won earlier this year.

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Since getting back from my travels in America and Greece I have been working on completing a project working with eleven educationally challenged boys in a local primary school to make a window for their school.

This has been a fantastic project, the boys have taught me the potential of using tools as a way in to accessing creativity and learning and have reminded me how important hands-on approach is in helping to open up opportunities for people. The children have benefited in so many ways from our project, through working with glass they have built up a new sense of self-estime and pride in their achievements which they are carrying forward into other areas of their lives.

Damian Walford-Davies, friend, poet and writer  came in and worked with me to facilitate the boys, all of whom have acute literacy problems, generating some bilingual text for the work.
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At the same time, courtesy of my Adrian Henri Poetry in Art Prize and a subsidy from the Local Investment Fund, in preparation for an intensive studio working time this winter, I have been upgrading my studio equipment with a new kiln, flat-lap grinder and sand-blaster.

Thanks to a Continuing Professional Development Award from the Worshipful Company of Glaziers and support from the Welsh Arts Council, I am about to go to North Lands Glass in Caithness for a masterclass with Australian glass artist, Deborah Cocks. The masterclass will be a great opportunity to prepare for my winter studio time. I will be attending the annual conference there as well and renewing my contacts with this fabulous centre of excellence – I can’t wait!

Michael Roger's Studio

Michael Roger’s Studio

After an intense time at Corning, Michael Rogers took me to stay at his home near Rochester in New York State. Michael’s studio is an amazing Aladdin’s cave of inspirations and it was a real privilege to be there. Michael’s wife, Bette, is a textile artist and I loved spending time with her in her den of colour.

Bette Roger's Studio

Bette Roger’s Studio

Michael also introduced me to the high culture of New York State in the antiques malls of the area. Here I found much inspiration for a project I am developing about heritage and nostalgia – perfect!

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From Rochester I headed to New York, where my old college buddy, Alun Williams now runs a gallery in Brooklyn called Parker’s Box.

Alun showing me some work in the archives of Parker's Box Gallery.

Alun showing me some work in the archives of Parker’s Box Gallery.

Alun and his wife, Claire Lesteven, a photographer, kindly offered me accomodation in the artists studio at Parker’s Box and introduced me to a number of artists including Claire Lieberman, an artist who works in glass. Claire showed me around her studio in South Brooklyn and talked to me about her work.

Claire Lieberman holding one of her glass "guns".

Claire Lieberman holding one of her glass “guns”.

While I was in New York I visited Joseph Cavalieri, a very inspirational and generous person who treated me to a tour of his Manhattan flat and studio before taking out to dinner at a local restaurant, His work is truly amazing and I sincerely hope we can encourage him to come to Wales before too long.

Work by Joseph Cavalieri, part of a series about strong women.

Work by Joseph Cavalieri, part of a series about strong women.

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Detail of Joseph’s studio.

I also visited the studio of Mary Clerkin Higgins who was the programme manager for the Florida Conference. Mary’s studio is at the north end of Brooklyn and she undertakes major restoration projects, often for American Universities which have impressive collections of historic european stained glass. While I was there her and her team were working on a 13th Century panel from Canterbury Cathedral and a 15th Century and some 16th Century panels from The Netherlands and Germany as well as aTiffany panel. It was fascinating to see the panels dismantelled on the bench and to begin to understand how they were put together.

Detail of a 13th Century panel from Canterbury Cathedral under restoration at Mary Clerkin Higgins' studio, Brooklyn.

Detail of a 13th Century panel from Canterbury Cathedral under restoration at Mary Clerkin Higgins’ studio, Brooklyn.

Marie Foucault Phipps and Takuji Hamanaka at work restoring stained glass panels in Mary's Studio.

Marie Foucault Phipps and Takuji Hamanaka at work restoring stained glass panels in Mary’s Studio.

Another person I met at the Florida conference was Drew Anderson, glass conservator at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Drew kindy took me on a tour of the bowels of the Met, showing me all the art work which was under restoration. It was fascinating, terrifying and intriguing all at the same time, to be so close to ancient and modern treasures which you normally only see through a glass case.

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I went to see an exhibition of fabulous glass paintings by Judith Schaechter¬†at Clare Oliver Gallery. These works entitled ‘The Battle of Carnival and Lent’, were produced for an installation at Eastern State Penitentiary. They are an excruciating celebration of the human spirit and are truly remarkable examples of contemporary glass painting.

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Following on from this show I investigated some of the commercial galleries in the area and came across a fabulous show by Tracie Emin.

Piece by Tracie Emin.

Piece by Tracie Emin.

I also paid a visit to Jane Bruce who was the facilitator of the international symposium I attended last year in Caithness. It was lovely to see a tiny painting I gave her next to a photo of my collaboration with Emma Woffenden in her apartment! It was lovely to catch up with each other and talk about our ideas over supper in a Manhattan restaurant.

Jane Bruce on the balcony of her Manhattan flat.

Jane Bruce on the balcony of her Manhattan flat.

In New York I spent half a day at the Museum of Modern Art. I was especially interested in the Robert Rauschenberg pieces there and collages by Ellsworth Kelly. I also enjoyed visiting the children’s zone for ideas and inspirations about how to involve children in museum collections.

Children's learning centre, MOMA

Children’s learning centre, MOMA

'Canyon' by Robert Rauschenberg at MOMA

‘Canyon’ by Robert Rauschenberg at MOMA

Finally I went out to New Jersey to visit an inspirational project called Glass Roots which works with disaffected young people in the area and uses glass as a means of enabling them to transform their lives. Glass Roots is a charity which runs workshops and internship programmes to help young people to develop creatively, start their own businesses or go on to further education. It was a pleasure to meet some of the youngsters who have benefitted from their schemes.

Glass Roots in New Jersey.

Glass Roots in New Jersey.

All in all, my visit to the States was a very intense and hectic 3 weeks. It was a fabulous introduction to the country and to the art scene on the East Coast and I have formed friendships and bonds which I am sure will bear fruit in future collaborations and projects. I will be giving a talk about my trip, if you are interested in attending please let me know.

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