As spring approaches we are welcoming visitors to the gallery in Pembrokeshire. While I am developing new work, if you would like to come please email me to make an arrangement or you are welcome to call by on the off chance.
I am busy on the final stages of preparing for my exhibition in The Tower Gallery, Oriel y Parc which opens in July. This is the culmination of 18months of intense work based on my residency at Skokholm Island Bird Observatory last year, which was supported by The Arts Council of Wales. During a recent two week residency in the studio at Oriel y Parc I completed the first of a series of large scale paintings inspired by this residency. It has been an amazing opportunity to develop my work and to begin to navigate new waters.
Alongside this, with 4 other artists, I am working on a commission for the Contemporary Art Society of Wales for a piece of work made in response to the collection at Narberth Museum. I have undertaken months of research for this commission which has included making glass casts of a number of historical objects whilst honing my idea. I am interested in the emotional resonance of objects and their ability to link us to our history and lives past. The final work will be revealed at an opening in the museum in June. Here are some photos of research in progress:
I have also been teaching and running occasional workshops, including a day of sun printing with refugee families, a painting day at Oriel y Parc in February, and workshops for Newport and Carmarthen Art Societies. There are still places on my weekend painting workshop at Oriel y Parc in St Davids June 24-26th and painting week August 9-14th
Having finished my residency at Oriel y Parc, December sees me back in my own studio and continuing to process the material and ideas arising from my project, ‘ob•serve’ based on Skokholm Island. I am working deeper into ‘colour extraction’ and am exploring various avenues, so far all in oil paint, but glass is never far from my mind! This work is supported by a Project Grant from the Arts Council of Wales and will result in an exhibition in July and August 2016 in the Tower Gallery, Oriel y Parc, St Davids.
I have also been busy with my online winter sale which features many sketches and studies and is helping me create space for new work.
Even though I am concentrating on paint right now, I have been firing the kiln with Xmas spirit, making glass Christmas decorations with local people who made an incredible 50 decorations during a workshop I ran in the village school hall last weekend!
Happy Winter Solstice to you all, and I look forward to more light in January!
I am now half way through my month long residency at Oriel y Parc in St. Davids. It is wonderful to have such a beautiful big studio in which to begin to process the material from ob•serve, the project I have been researching over six months at Skokholm Island Bird Observatory. The work I am doing will develop over the winter and will be the basis of an exhibition in The Tower Gallery, St Davids, next summer.
I decided to focus particularly on my sketchbooks and the colour “transect” studies. I chose eight sights around the island which I visited every month from April to September and recorded the colours I could see, this now forms the basis of a series of canvases I am painting in oils.
The residency is teaching me some unexpected things: the benefits of having a studio away from home, of having people around and a context to work in which is less isolated (and has an excellent cafe!), the importance of having clear space and the value of having a routine of going out to work and stopping at 5pm. As a result I have resolved to have a clear-out of my studio and gallery and to reorganise my workspace at home, especially to make space for painting. This means that I will be having a massive sale of work this winter which will (hopefully!) free up space.
I will be giving a public talk about this work at Oriel y Parc on Friday 16th October at 6pm, and also welcome visitors to the studio 4-5pm on Thursdays and Fridays (other times by arrangement). On Saturday 21st November I will be running a one-day painting course focussing on colour at Oriel y Parc. To book phone Oriel y Parc on 01437 720392.
I am immensely grateful to The Arts Council of Wales for funding this project which is allowing me to take the risks necessary to develop my work, to The Wildlife Trust, South and West Wales and the Skokholm Island wardens for giving me the chance to work on the island, and to all the staff at Oriel y Parc and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park for making me so welcome in St. Davids.
As the swallows gather ready for their journey south, I am catching up with myself after a summer spent largely away from my home studio. I have spent five weeks on Skokholm Island gathering material and inspiration for my project, ob•serve.
I have been continuing my colour-collecting transects and have been getting involved in the scientific research that is taking place. This is all part of trying to understand different approaches to observation and to gathering material and inspiration to work with over the winter.
In addition I ran a week-long painting course in August to share my approach and techniques with artists who wished to broaden their experience.
The artists who came and had a thoroughly good time exploring the fantastic landscape and geology of the island and getting to know the place. The light house engine room was our superb studio base and I ran daily workshops in aspects of painting, which were punctuated by sketching trips and dolphin watching from the studio windows! Superb food was provided by Shirley Matthews, a regular islander and fantastic chef. Everyone left the island equipped with plenty of inspiration and ideas to take their work forward in their own studios. Thank you to all my students, everyone entered in to the exploratory nature of the work wholeheartedly.
I am delighted to say that two of my Cyanotypes have been preselected for the Society of Wildlife Artists( SWA) autumn show at Mall Galleries in London. It is part of a joint initiative between the SWA and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and I have submitted two works which feature bird netting and ringing and aim to promote more understanding of the scientific value of the bird ringing scheme.
Meanwhile my piece, Bonne Maman, has been on show at London Glassblowing Gallery in Bermonsey as part of their Essence exhibition.
I continue to run community workshops, this one was a cyanotype workshop for young people at Narberth Museum, where participants worked with objects from the collection to make stunning cyanotype images.
I am proud to say that I have been selected by The Arts Council of Wales to be a Creative Agent in their Lead Creative Schools Scheme which is about to be rolled out across Wales. The scheme is a major investment by Arts Council and Welsh Government and is designed to support teachers and learners to develop new creative approaches to learning by collaborating with artists. After four days of intensive training in Cardiff I am hoping to be matched with a school soon.
Since my last post I have been concentrating on my residency at Skokholm Island Bird Observatory and have spent two more weeks on the island. In May the island was covered with a carpet of spring flowers and the seabirds were returning and starting to lay eggs.
I am continuing with my “colour collecting”, and started to explore colours obtained directly from plants.
Back in the studio I have been recreating the colours from my landscape grids in glass powders which I am meticulously weighing out and casting into small tesserae.
During my May visit I made a mould of the hand of a bird ringer (“bander”, for my American/Canadian chums!) holding a wax model of a Pied Flycatcher which I made for the purpose. Tony used to be Assistant Warden on the island in 1965 and had returned from Canada, where he now runs a research station, for a visit. My aim now is to cast this in glass using lost wax method, it will form part of a series I am making.
In June I started work on a some collotype images using the u.v. from the sun to make photograms on paper I had chemically prepared. Collotype is an early photographic process and is much less toxic than most, so is ideally suited to island conditions. I enjoyed the mix of art and science involved, I am continuing to develop this process in my studio.
In early June I went to The National Museum of Wales in Cardiff to meet Ben Rowson, a malacologist (an expert on molluscs, or in Ben’s case, slugs) who I met on Skokholm while he was sifting North Pond searching for rare slugs. Ben showed me around the invertibrate and ornithology departments and introduced me to his friends and colleagues. It was a fascinating visit, great to see behind the scenes of the museum and to see the work that goes on there…endless inspiration…!
Apart from working on the Skokholm project I took time to take friends for an overnight visit to Skokholm’s sister island, Skomer, which was my first spiritual home in Pembrokeshire back in the days when I married the assistant warden. Nowadays Skomer is a whole lot busier, with hundreds of day visitors and lots of researchers and people staying in the hostel. Skomer has recently been voted one of the Top Ten places for families to visit by Lonely Planet – needless to say it is not quite so “lonely” anymore, but it is still a fantastic place to visit. There is nothing quite like an evening stroll down North Valley with the Short-Earred Owls hunting low over the bluebells in full bloom – magical!
In late May I went to Stourbridge for the opening of the British Glass Biennale, which featured my Bonne Maman piece. It was a great event even though I only had one day there. Pembrokeshire’s Ashraf Hanna took the main prize of the evening and Ruth Shelley from Cardiff won the Glass Sellers Prize, so Welsh artists did very well despite the fact that only three of us were selected! My piece will be going on show in Essence exhibition at London Glassblowing from 7-29th August. Bonne Maman sent me some jam as a reward for the publicity!
This piece is part of a series of glass “postcards” that I am making as part of my residency at Skokholm Island Bird Observatory. This one depicts the skeleton of a Razorbill chick superimposed on Ronald Lockley’s map of the island, and will be exhibited as part of the Contemporary Glass Society postcard exhibition at the International Festival of Glass.
I have been busy since January preparing for my residency, ob•serve, at Skokholm Island Bird Observatory and on 10th April I went to Skokholm for the first week of this project. As part of the residency I will be spending one week a month on the island for six months through the breeding season. This project is sponsored by the Arts Council of Wales and is supported in-kind by The Wildlife Trust, South and West Wales, Pembrokeshire County Council, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Dale Sailing Company. I began by identifying locations where I will return each visit to record the changes in colour, weather and habitat.
I was out from dawn to dusk and beyond every day and gathered much inspiration. I borrowed some scientific methods for my colour capture exercises which was an interesting way to observe colour removed from the pull of figuration. I have now returned to my studio ready to begin processing my material and developing new work for this project.
Being on the island gave me the opportunity to be involved in monitoring birds and observe them in the hand.This piece is the first in a series of cast glass pieces I am developing in response to human interaction with birds that takes place during the scientific monitoring on the island.
I am working on some cast glass textures and details from the island. I am developing some jewellery as a collaboration with silversmith, Sara Lloyd Morris.
There are still a couple of places left on my week long painting course on Skokholm Island in August, it will be an amazing opportunity to work on the island and get to grips with some wild landscape, while enjoying fine food in an idyllic setting.
I continue to work with people in the community and recently ran a couple of workshops for Pembrokeshire Young Carers, where people aged 8 to 14 who care for a family member, came together to make glass jewellery and a communal glass quilt. One of these workshops was sponsored by Narberth Rotary Club.
The course is designed for a small group of students and is suitable for both beginners and more experienced artists. There will be a relaxed atmosphere and the aim of the course will be free your technique and explore landscape-based abstraction with mixed media, using things like wax, sand and plaster to get to grips with texture. You will have an immersive experience which will fill you with enthusiasm and skills to take back into your painting at home.
Our studio will be at the lighthouse and the course will involve a mixture of indoor and outdoor activities. Throughout the week on the island we will have workshops every morning from 9.30 to 1pm when you will have the opportunity to explore mixed media painting and develop some work from ideas and influences gathered from the island. Afternoons will be your own to work on your ideas from the morning workshops, relax or spend time exploring the island. There will be some evening presentations and the chance to join in with the nightly bird log.
Skokholm Island is a jewel of the Pembrokeshire Coastal landscape. Once the home of the naturalist, Ronald Lockley, the island is famed for its 90,000 Manx Shearwaters, Storm Petrels nesting in the walls around the buildings, Puffins, cliff nesting seabirds and as the site of Britain’s first Bird Observatory. Located 2.5 miles off shore, the whole island is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is a rich visual, archaeological, biological and historical resource. Formed of a rich red sandstone the island has a rich history, its remoteness and the nature of the scientific research which has taken place there over an extended period of time makes it a very special place to stay.
The island was designated as Britain’s first Bird Observatory in 1934 and it has recently regained its certification. Scientific monitoring work has taken place for over 70 years. It involves monitoring habitat, flora and fauna and trapping and ringing birds as part of a long term study into bird migration and behaviour. The work that is undertaken there plays a vital role in providing data which feeds into studies of short and long term environmental trends. In addition to the biological monitoring, the island has a rich history. In early August you can expect to see seals, cetaceans and many birds, including puffins, ravens, peregrines storm petrels and Manx Shearwaters . The island has been inhabited since the Stone Age and is currently the subject of a LIDAR study by the Commission for Ancient Monuments in Wales.