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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
I took a few days off last week to camp with my family down at Caerfai Bay near St. Davids. It is an idyllic spot (apart from when gales rip through the campsite!) and it was lovely to be with my in-laws and nephews and niece and go to sleep under the stars and wake to red dawns.
Rachel and I have been working on some new ideas for a commission we are hoping to get. It is wonderful how we seem to synchronise our ideas and often arrive at similar solutions for things. Again, it is a treat to work with her.
On Thursday I took Rachel on a mystery tour to the studio of Sara Lloyd Morris in Martletwy. Sara and I have been working together for a while to design some pieces of jewellery made from fragments from the Conwy windows. I wanted us both to have something special to wear for the official opening, which is now taking place on 13th September. Rachel was delighted! Sara has made a fab job of realising our ideas and I look forward to wearing my pieces on the day. Infact I shall be showing them off at the Glasshionista event which is the finale to the Glass Biennale.
I am writing this on the train to Wolverhampton where I am going to attend a pâte de verre course with French artist, Antoine Leperlier, followed by a long weekend at the British Glass Biennale in Stourbridge. I can’t wait! Leperlier learned casting from his grandfather, François Décorchemont, a legendary pâte de verre artist, so even though there isn’t much time, I will at least soak up the experience and wait to see how it will manifest itself in my work.
As the course is only three and a half days I have spent the past week making waxes and moulds so that I will have something to get started with. I am also booked in to half a days glass blowing with Martin Andrews again I have spent some time preparing so as to make the most of the time. I have made some refractory moulds to blow into and some glass pieces to use as inclusions in the blowing process. This is only my second experience of glass blowing, so, I am, as ever, ambitious!!
As well as seeing some fabulous glass, I am looking forward to seeing some old and new friends this week, including Bill Swann, from North Wales. Bill and I initiated a glass/paint collaboration many years before I ever dared to touch glass myself, Christine Lababidi who was a fellow student at Liquid Glass on my first glass course, and the inimitable Carrie Fertig who will be performing her Torcher Tailor extravaganza (which involves flamworking a glass wedding dress directly onto a living bride!) live on Saturday night.
Thanks to the Arts Council of Wales for making this trip possible for me as part of a training bursary.
I am just back from a fabulous fortnight with glass artists at Northlands Glass Centre in Caithness, eight hours north of Edinburgh by train. On the way north I stayed in Fife with my sister and we went to Jupiter Artland, a summer sculpture exhibition in parklands on the edge of Edinburgh. It was fabulous to see sculptures in the landscape, I especially liked the Andy Goldsworthys and Cornelia Parker.
The night before I went up to Caithness we met up with Michael Rogers who taught me on my masterclass at Northlands last year and went for dinner with Jeff Zimmer, his partner, Mark, and dynamic glass artist Carrie Fertig. It was great to catch up with everybody, Jeff and Mark were perfect hosts and excellent cooks, and their flat became a tardis and expanded to accommodate us all! Thanks to Tina for the photo.
My time in Caithness was my prize in the Warm Glass Competition. It was an amazing experience to be part of a group of artists from around the world and to have time and space to reflect on my work. I ended up collaborating in surprising ways with Emma Wooffenden, a contemporary artist based in London who works in glass. Our collaboration started out with me helping her to document some work she was doing based on ideas relating to the figure in landscape, and ended up as more like a shared performance piece on a beach 365 steps down from the cliff top at Whalligoe.
Having time away from my usual practice has allowed me to think about how my painting relates to my glass work and how I could combine the two in the future. Maybe two dimensions isn’t all bad after all!
It was an intense period of work and a brilliant opportunity to share ideas and get feedback on my work from an immensely talented and experienced group of artists. The symposium was organised and facilitated by Jane Bruce, an internationally well known glass artist who lives in Manhattan. The food, as ever, was fabulous and we were well looked after. The weather was less than endearing, but, then I am used to a bit of rain!
Now that I am back home I have been photographing some of the sculptures I have been working on for my (Arts Council of Wales funded) Rosebush project. It is really exciting to put the work in the landscape and see my ideas coming together. I am looking forward to having some time in my studio!
Having finally got some of my slate pieces out to the quarry and with the kiln cooling with the latest Rosebush piece inside, I am headed north to Lybster in Caithness to have 9 days to play with glass as my prize in the Warm Glass competition. I am having a few nights in Edinburgh staying with my sister enroute, and hooking up with some glassy friends on Monday, before embarking on the 8 hour journey to Caithness by train. I will be away from home for two weeks. That piece will be well annealed by mid July!
I am looking forward to having time, facilities, materials and space at Northlands to experiment with ideas and make work inspired by the landscape, alongside an exciting bunch of glass artists from as far afield as Sydney and Portland. Scarey and exciting to be part of this. I can’t believe I have come so far (and ended up in the same place!) in less than a year. Last year I remember a sinking feeling after the Northlands conference of “what the hell am I doing?” when I listened to a tired and disillusioned glass artist sharing her perspective on life as an artist working with glass. Actually, I cried, to be so far out of my comfort zone, to be taking such risks as a painter entering a new field, an artist meeting craft. And what a journey it is ! I am constantly surprised by how long everything takes, Rachel smiles wryly and says “welcome”! The medium imposes this discipline on my unruly ideas, which is just as well.
It is an exciting path. I am so grateful to my new glass artist friends who are making me so welcome, to Bullseye Glass for sponsoring the prize, and to The Arts Council of Wales for supporting my travel to Northlands, and to Jeremy Lepisto, Michael Rogers and others who have shared their skills and knowledge and continue to make supportive “Likes” from afar. Thanks to everyone else in my life who puts up with my absences, my enthusiasm and nerdy fascination with coefficients and historic documents…
Northlands here I come!