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.


Celia Paul in her studio.

Haf Fach Mihangel (indian summer)

This has been a very busy week. I have been shortlisted for a commission at Conwy Castle in North Wales and went there for a site visit. It took me 3 days to complete the visit and associated research in the area and because of a tight schedule, I have only 10 days to complete my proposal – not much time to blog then!

But it was such a fantastic trip in the gorgeous heatwave we are having, Wales is an insanely beautiful country and the journey north through the mountains and slate quarries is spectacular. The castle itself was built by Edward 1st in 1283-9 to assert English domination over the Welsh Princes.

Originally the walls would have been limed white and it must have made a stunning impression. The opportunity to submit a proposal to make some work for this World Heritage Site is very exciting and I have started making some small cast glass samples to submit.

In the course of my research I discovered that there is some mediaeval glass surviving in the area and I made an appointment with Richard Hughes, the Curator of the museum in nearby Llandudno, who kindly showed me some pieces from their archive. I was totally amazed at the glass that came out of those boxes! There is so little early glass surviving from this period that I had expected it to be much more fragmentary and in worse condition. Richard also told me about the church at Llanrychwyn where there is glass surviving in situ, and in the fading light I made my way up into the hills of the Conwy valley on a road that seemed to be melting into the hillside and becoming ever more indistinct and rocky. I was sure the church must be locked but was delighted to find a very human sort of door fastening and let myself in.

To enter a church which was actually used by Llewellyn Fawr, the great prince of Wales, took my breath away.

Whilst in Llandudno I called in to Oriel Mostyn gallery and discovered an amazing exhibition by David Nash. David is a sculptor who has also been to Northlands Glass and whose work I last saw on the stairs in Lani MacGregors wonderful house at Latheron. The show is truly stunning, wonderful to see his work in such a sympathetic space, this is the most moving exhibition I have seen in a long while.

I can never resist stopping off in Aberystwyth, this time I was rewarded with  photo of an ageing biker – “Ride it Like You Stole It” his t-shirt said as he sipped tea on the prom with his cronies – good on you!