Skokholm Spring

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!

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ob•serve

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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