ob•serve exhibition in St Davids

The exhibition of my work from ob•serve, my residency on Skokholm Island, is now on show. I am grateful to Arts Council of Wales, The Wildlife Trust South and West Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Oriel y Parc, Dale Sailing Company and Richard and Giselle, Skokholm Island wardens,  for their support of this project.

ob•serve – colours of an island

The Tower, Oriel y Parc, St Davids SA62 6NW

9.30–4.30 daily until 31 August

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Solstice update

puffin swatch2Having 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.

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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.

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Sale 64 – £65

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!

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Happy Winter Solstice to you all, and I look forward to more light in January!

 

Autumn Gathers

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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.

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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.

Bonne Maman 2013 Engraved jar, thread, tooth, one pound coin.
Bonne Maman 2013
Engraved jar, thread, tooth, one pound coin.

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.

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Bonne Maman 2013 Engraved jar, thread, tooth, one pound coin.
Bonne Maman 2013
Engraved jar, thread, tooth, one pound coin.

I am delighted to say that my piece, Bonne Maman, has been selected for the British Glass Biennale at the International Festival of Glass in Stourbridge at the end of May.

Fused glass and sandblasted vitreous enamel 2015 15 x 10cm
Fused glass and sandblasted vitreous enamel 2015
15 x 10cm

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I have been pursuing some of the ideas I was developing in Caithness at North Lands Creative Glass in September concerning glass in the landscape, and have been using exploring photography as a medium for this work.

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Alongside my studio work I continue to develop an exciting socially engaged practice and this autumn have begun a project in collaboration with Narberth Museum to create a Community Quilt in glass with citizens of Narberth. This project is called ‘Drawn Threads’ and was part of The Big Draw National Drawing Festival.

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I have also been voluntarily organising events for an informal artists network based at Narberth Museum. Up-coming events include a Drawing with Wire workshop with Julia Griffiths Jones on February 7th and an iPhoneography Day with the amazing Nettie Edwards on March 14th. It has been lovely to meet some new artists working in the area who are making inspiring work and I look forward to taking part in the workshops.

On a festive note I have been working with 75 pupils of Puncheston School to make Matisse-cut-out-inspired tea light holders

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My BIG NEWS for 2015 is that I have succeeded in getting Arts Council of Wales funding for my project, ‘observe’, which will see me spending much of 2015 focussing on developing a new body of work based on research undertaken at Skokholm Island Bird Observatory in Pembrokeshire during the summer season.

I will spend one week a month on the island between April and October undertaking artistic research alongside the biologists, bird ringers and other scientists who work at the observatory. In September/October 2015 I will be Artist in Residence at Oriel y Parc St Davids where I will use the studio facilities to draw together the threads of my research and undertake 3 days of public engagement workshops.  I will go on to develop a new body of work which will be exhibited at The Tower Gallery, Oriel y Parc in St. Davids in July/August 2016. Work from this exhibition will tour to Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales headquarters at Parc Slip and Cilgerran later in 2016.

This is a great opportunity for me to undertake a major self-directed project which incorporates several themes which are central to my practice, namely landscape and research. I am interested in how observation is the basis for both scientific and artistic research and in examining the relationship between the two and looking at what each discipline may learn from the practice of the other.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time writing proposals and making funding applications this year to enable me to support myself while developing new work. It is always a dilemma whether to spend months out of the studio writing funding applications, but the process does force me to articulate what it is I want to do and to be clear about how I propose to do it. The application for this project was accepted on its second rewrite, and I am delighted that the Arts Council of Wales are going to support my initiative and am relieved that my persistence has paid off! Writing a proposal is a kind of gestation period, and, like pregnancy, it is just the beginning of the work…I am looking forward to the challenges ahead!

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Thanks to the Arts Council of Wales, The Wildlife Trust South and West Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Pembrokeshire County Council and Dale Sailing for their support for this project.

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In August 2015 I will be running a one week art course on the island, this is suitable for artists with all levels of experience and is intended to give participants the chance to immerse themselves intensively in the landscape, learn some new techniques and enjoy a relaxing time on one of the UK’s most spectacular islands which is home to Britain’s first Bird Observatory.

Meanwhile, my studio gallery is open daily until January 4th showing new work. Do call in for a glass of mulled wine!

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Veering North

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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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It has been such an amazing 10 days at the International Festival of Glass that don’t know where to begin…

Firstly, I had four days in Wolverhampton doing a masterclass with Antoine Leperlier. Antoine is a French artist whose use of glass casting techniques derives from working with his grandfather,François Décorchemont, who, in turn had learned from his father, Emile Décorchemont (b.1850), who was studio assistant for Gerome. This depth of heritage resonates through his work. Glass is his language, and he uses the peculiar properties of glass to explore his primary themes which are an exploration of the human condition in relation to the fourth dimension, time.

Obviously, in four days you can not hope to learn so much, but the experience of working with Antoine and absorbing his seriousness of purpose was incredible.

In the evenings we attended various exhibitions and openings connected with the International Festival of Glass. A visit to the Glass Afloat show at Bodenham Arboretum was particularly memorable. It was fascinating to see how other glass artists have made work for a site specific external location. In particular I was impressed by Jacque Pavlosky’s piece made from cut glass found work. Jacque was a fellow student on Antoine’s course.

Following on from this masterclass, I went to Stourbridge to attend the International Festival of Glass. This event centres around the British Glass Biennale which showcases work from among the best in British studio glass.

Gorgeous piece by Cathryn Shilling.

Piece by Louis Thompson which won the Best in Show Award.

James Lethbridge’s breathtaking ‘Midas Jar’.

‘Titan’ a beautiful piece by Bruno Romanelli