Summer Update

I have been very busy making new work, hanging a summer exhibition and building a new website which will go live next week and have neglected my blog somewhat, so apologies for that.

My gallery in Pembrokeshire is open every day in August from 10am to 6pm.

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Since I last posted I have installed the Glass Quilt I made with 180 primary school children at Narberth School, which can be seen on the outside wall of the school.
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I have also been working on a new series of work called ‘Hiraeth’, which is based on the stories of Welsh people who emigrated to The States in the 18th and 19th Centuries. This work has been researched in Pembrokeshire Archives and online, and five of the resulting pieces have been selected for an exhibition by Elysium Gallery, Swansea which will tour to Colorado in September this year.

In addition I have been working with Rachel Phillips on a commission for Bro Preseli, a sheltered housing scheme in Crymych. This commission is due to be installed later this week and consists of 8 double glazed panels which form an internal wall in the building. glass_1

There are still a few places left on my painting course from the 22nd to 29th September on the fabulous Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire. This course is suitable for both beginners and experienced artists and is a unique opportunity to spend an intensive time working with me and exploring the colours and textures of the island. Skokholm is a wonderful place to stay and as the island is a Bird Observatory there will also be opportunities to study birds in the hand, see Manx Shearwaters close-up and have a night time visit to the Storm Petrel colony. For more information and to book please email me.

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Turning Of The Year


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The trees are totally magnificent at the moment! I love winter and am enjoying the crisp and the soggy days and soaking up inspiration for my work.

A very exciting development is that I am going once a week to the Department of Architectural Glass at Swansea Metropolitan University where I have a Visiting Artist arrangement whereby I exchange working with the students for access to the facilities and expertise in the department. I am working with the first years on their “Decorative Processes” module with the fabulous Lisa Birkl. It is wonderful to go there and for one day a week to concentrate solely on playing with ideas. It makes me realise how much of my time at home is taken up with admin, writing proposals, answering emails and generally making a living, and how rare it is to have uninterrupted creative time right now…I can feel a New Year’s resolution coming on! This term I have been playing around with the sandblaster, developing my skills and trying things out. I am definitely going to invest in a sandblaster soon.

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Alongside this I have been developing my work in Welsh and English medium local schools and have made a total of 200 glass Xmas decorations with pupils aged 3 to 11 over the past month. It has been fantastic to work with the children and to spread the word about glass to a new generation! Their work is beautiful.

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This has been quite a year for me from installing the Conwy Castle commission, winning the Warm Glass Prize, going to the Northlands symposium, collaborating with Sarah Harman on the Rosebush project, studying with Antoine Leperlier, and now working in Swansea – I am really beginning to feel things start to come together.

I am now putting the final touches to my New Year show ready for the opening on 27th December. For the first time I am showing a series of glass panel alongside my paintings. Pop in and join us for a glass of mulled wine from 27th december – 7th January.

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Digging into Autumn

Wonderful David Nash sculptures at Kew Gardens.

Autumn is truly upon us and I have been busy squirrelling away new work and spending far too much time writing proposals and funding applications.

Rachel and I heard that we have been invited to America to give a paper and a glass painting workshop to the American Glass Guild in Florida in May 2013. This is mega exciting for me as I have never been to the States and I have begun to make so many artistic and personal connections there since I began working with glass.

Unfortunately the honour does not come with any funding attached, so it is taking quite a bit of my time to fund-raise for the trip. To that end Rachel and I are holding a Studio Sale of our work at my gallery from 23rd-25th November. There will be an opening event on Friday 23rd from 7pm and you are all invited! I will be offering 20% discount on all framed work and will have a selection of unframed sketches and studies from £45. We will be making glass Xmas decorations and producing Xmas Cards of our work. Come and join us for a glass of mulled wine on the night, or pop in over the weekend.

I am also organising a preview for my Cân yr Oerwynt project in Rosebush with Sarah Harman. This event takes place 4-6pm on Sunday 11th November at The Old Post Office in Rosebush. Sarah has written a suite of songs about the history of the village and the human shaping of the landscape and I will be showing my ceramic, slate and glass sculptures and some of the historical material I have unearthed. If I don’t loose my nerve, I will also be singing one of the songs with Sarah and friends!

Aside from all this organising I have been exploring some of the Bronze Age archaeological excavations that have been taking place in Pembrokeshire this autumn. This is all part of my project based on the human shaping of the landscape and I am spending a good deal of time thinking about how I am going to work with all the material, how (and if!) to work glass and paint and how to take the whole thing forward in a coherent way.

A very interesting dig at the Bronze Age Trefael Stone undertaken by Bristol University and the Welsh Rock Art Society. You can clearly see some of the 75 cup marks on the stone.

This is a very creative and exciting time for me. The symposium at Northlands in July gave me space and context to consider things, to contemplate the relationship between my painting and my glass work and to wonder if maybe two dimensions isn’t all bad!

Another fantastic thing to come out of my time at Northlands is my friendship with Emma Woffenden. At Northlands we spontaneously collaborated in making work based on figure in landscape, we want to continue our collaboration and I have just spent time with her in London seeing exhibitions and talking about our work and projects.

Collaboration with Emma Woffenden in Caithness.

Emma Woffenden’s studio showing her sculptures: ‘Elephant’s Revenge 1’ and ‘Elephants’s Revenge 2’.

Whilst in London I went to a fantastic glass show celebrating 35 years of glass making at London Glassblowing. This show is curated by Cathryn Shilling and is beautifully laid out in London Glassblowing’d new venue on Bermonsey St. near London Bridge.

‘Woven’ by Layne Rowe.

This piece is an incredibly skilled piece by Layne who pulls canes of clear glass which are encased in a thin layer of white and coated in colour (if he lived in Wales he would surely be called Layne the Cane!), he then lays these side-by-side and picks them up on hot clear glass on a blowing pipe, he then blows the whole thing, and cold works the finished piece with a copper wheel to reveal the inside of the canes…madly intricate work.

I ran a weekend painting course at my studio this autumn. Thanks to my students who threw themselves wholeheartedly into working expressively and trying out new ideas. My next course is in February, information on my website.

Chris getting into his stride on my painting course.

Finally, I have been to some excellent exhibitions recently. One of the most moving was the extraordinary pairing of Celia Paul with Gwen John at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. Although both artists are separated in time by around 80 years, they have a lot in common as both being strong and quiet artists who make deeply personal, spiritual work. It is a beautiful exhibition, well worth the trip to Sussex. There is also an inspirational Dubuffet exhibition upstairs, which is particularly relevant to the venue at Pallant House as it has a very active commitment to supporting non-traditional artists.

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Celia Paul in her studio.

Settling back into Pembrokeshire

I have been busy all week with the interpretation for the Conwy Castle windows, so yesterday I took a break and we went over to Skomer to enjoy the bluebells at their best. We had the afternoon on the island before Den’s guided boat trip in the evening, so we got to see all the old favourites and reconnect with the place.

The short eared owls were flying in North Valley, the guillemots and razorbills were doing their thing on the cliff edges and the puffins were starting to bring sand eels in to feed the first chicks. At the latest count there are something like 11,400 puffins nesting on the island! So, it is a busy place, but if you time it right you can get around without bumping into too many people, and the bluebells, which are very late this year, are in full bloom and creating spectacular carpets all over the island.

The weather was fantastic and the evening boat trip was wonderful, we saw a few porpoise, gannets, puffins and other auks. The views of the island were breathtaking and the reflected colours in the water were amazing.

The trip was capped off by being surrounded by a raft of shearwaters as they swooped and glided over the water at sunset.

This morning I went on a (Welsh language) guided walk across the Preseli’s to remember those who protected this landscape from being requisitioned by the M.O.D. during the Second World War. The guide was Geraint Harries, a local National Park Warden who explained  about the wildlife of the place and Hefin Wyn, a local author and historian who has written extensively about the history of the area and was able to tell us more about the history of the landscape.

Unfortunately I couldn’t do the whole walk, but cut back through Rosebush with Sarah Harman so that we could discuss our on-going project research into the human shaping of the landscape around the quarry. I am looking forward to spending more time in the studio in June finishing some pieces that are in progress on this, and Sarah is well underway with writing a suite of songs. It is good to catch up and fill each other in on our progress. This is part of a research and development project I am undertaking with the support of The Arts Council of Wales.

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Painting is progressing well on the windows. We are working flat-out to meet our deadline for installation on March 8th. I am really enjoying experimenting with etching and sandblasting as well as painting pieces, the fragmentary nature of the piece gives lots of scope to be spontaneous within a structure.

 

 

 

All these pieces will be cut up and included as fragments. Meanwhile, the painting is fabulous to do, so different to my usual approach to using colour, thinking all the time about the light! I am learning a lot about traditional techniques from Rachel. Hardly any time to blog!!

 

Ordering chaos

National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

I spent a day in Aberystwyth last weekend researching some new work and collecting material to take to Northlands. Part of my day was spent in charity shops and part in the National Library of Wales, and it occurred to me that both places are repositories of old (Welsh) stuff, one discarded and the other valued and archived.

I realised that my studio more closely resembled the junk shop than the library, and that maybe that is why I am finding it so hard to settle and focus on work there. It feels like I have too many ideas and they were spread out over every surface, making it physically and emotionally difficult to concentrate on one thing while all the others were vying for my attention.

The library offered a solution – I could archive my ideas! This was so obvious that I couldn`t believe I hadn`t thought of it before! I ordered some archive boxes and set about cleaning my studio and tackling the chaos,it took me all week and was time well spent..

Now my studio is once again my sanctuary, and I smile when I go in there. Finally I am ready to get on with some work. This Northlands course is teaching me things before I even leave home!

20% Off All Work!!

'13 Crows' by Michael Rogers

I heard this morning that I didn`t get my funding to go to Northlands Glass in Caithness for an international glass conference called “Touching the Past” and to attend a masterclass with Michael Rogers. Michael Rogers is an amazing American artist who uses glass and found materials to make conceptual pieces. He also uses a lot of text in his work so you can see why I am interested to work with him.

I have been accepted onto the masterclass and I am determined to go, so I went for a walk in the quarry and picked some bilberries while I figured out how to manage it.

Bilberries from Rosebush

Lovely though they are, clearly the bilberries weren`t going to help out much financially, so I have decided to offer a 20% discount on all my work until I have raised the necessary £2000. Do get in touch if there is anything you like on my website or call in to the gallery if you are in Pembrokeshire.