I have lost my teaching job while the college where I teach art and craft to young neurodiverse adults is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, so I have been working hard to sell some work to keep myself afloat and allow me to make new work in response to the current situation.
As a result it is currently possible to view a range of my work for sale for under £200 as part of the #artistsupportpledge which is an initiative by artist Matthew Burrows whereby artists sell pieces of work for less than £200 and for every £1000 sold the artist buys work by another artist for £200. This is a brilliant idea as it allows us to support ourselves and other artists and thanks to the pledge I have been able to continue with my studio practice and have, at the same time increased my collection of artwork by other artists!
I am feeling blessed in living in Pembrokeshire and having a garden and am enjoying having the time to develop new work and to review my gallery and to begin a major rearrangement of my studio space.
Meanwhile, at Studio Melyn (my architectural glass practice with Rachel Phillips) having recently completed a commission for a 12th Century church at Blewbury in Oxfordshire, we have been working hard on our designs for a new commission for CADW at Caernarfon Castle. The schedule for making the work has been set back by the Covid-19 restrictions, but we have been finding ways to do socially-distanced designing!
My time on Skokholm Island was fantastic! I walked those 242 acres for a week and really began to absorb the feel of the island. Swimming with seals and puffins in South Haven was a highlight, as was lying beneath the stars at the lighthouse watching Storm Petrels returning to their nests. There were lots of wonderful moments, seeing Burnet Moths mating, coming across 50 stranded Compass Jellyfish that had lost their way in North Haven, painting a Garden Tiger Moth….
It is always easier to work when I am alone and away from the distractions of home life. The islands give me the space to contemplate and decide where I want to go next with my work. There is a lot to think about just now – glass and paint and so many themes bubbling up…
All in all it has been a time of collecting for me, collecting material (sand, earth, seaweed, bones) and inspiration, and collecting my thoughts.
This has a parallel in the scientific work that goes on on the islands, the monitoring, mapping and collecting of data and material and the documenting of conditions and movements and migrations, these things have been faithfully recorded here since 1927 when Ronald Lockley, naturalist, farmer and writer extraordinaire, took on the lease of the island. The scientific approach mirrors what I am doing in my sketchbooks and experiments with glass, the application and attention to detail of these scientists is inspirational in itself!!
All in all it was an inspirational week and has given me much food for thought (and a studio full of detritus!). I will definitely come back next year and hope to work on a piece of work for the island, possibly a window for Lockley’s restored cottage.
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.
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.
A day in Cardiff with Ruby on Saturday and I managed to fit in a visit to the superb Silverstruck exhibition of contemporary silversmithing at the National Museum in between the visits to New Look and H&M and lunch at Jamie Oliver‘s restaurant!
This is a fantastic showcase of contemporary work and is well worth a visit. It runs until July 24th. I especially liked Junko Mori`s organic forms, Alex Ramsay‘s gorgeous double-skinned vessels, Adele Brereton‘s delicate vessels and Rajesh Gogna‘s imaginative and witty pieces. The show is a testament to the imagination and incredibly high standard of craftsmanship of contemporary makers and to their dedication in following a line of inquiry.
Had a fantastic evening swim on Tenby South Beach with a friend after a day in the studio (not nearly as cold as I expected, and really refreshing!), and then we came across this valiant Scarlet Tiger Moth on the sand…such exquisite colours showing petrol greens and emeralds over black and then a shock of poppy red petticoats….perfect end to my day.
Having loaded the kiln with a deep firing of glass, I set off north for my old stomping ground of Aberystwyth to meet with writer, Damian Walford Davies. We are planning a collaborative project next year to do with our mutual interest in mapping the landscape. I am delighted that Damian will be using one of my paintings on the cover of his new book, ‘Cultural Cartographies – Welsh writing in English’.
This painting is inspired by exploring a microcosmic view of landscape (lichen on Bardsey, to be precise). It is part of a body of work which I had put aside to make way for other interests so I am encouraged that he wants to use it.
Aberystwyth has a special place in my heart, it is where I came to study art aged 18 in 1978. Today it is stunning with the Prom bathed in sunshine and people milling around taking the air.
I called in on old friends, Mary and John Lloyd Jones to catch up on their adventures and developments in Mary’s work.
Mary is an amazing woman, a painter with more energy at 76 than most of is have at half her age. Recently she has been revisiting work on cloth which I remember her doing in the 70’s. She has always been interested in the human shaping of the landscape and in incorporating text and Welsh language in her work, things which I am exploring myself right now. She has always been something of a role model for me as a woman who makes her living from her art and who is constantly pushing her ideas forward. It is great to catch up with her again.
I stayed the night with a friend in Borth. I was at college with Jenny and she now works as an art therapist and community artist. She is also pushing her own work forward, exploring non-toxic methods of printmaking.
Borth was incredible, the beach with its ancient submerged forest cloaked in seaweed radiant in the evening light, with dramatic showers over Bardsey 50 miles away, it is like the gateway to the north and set my mind wondering about my friends up there. Sadly I don’t have time to continue my journey north, I desperately need to get back to my studio and paint. It feels like I have been away too much recently and I need a period of time free from distraction to work.
Just before leaving Aberystwyth I went to the National Library of Wales to see Clive Hicks-Jenkin’s retrospective exhibition there. It is a very impressive show, I especially liked his small landscapes and black and white puppet maquettes.
This afternoon I went to The opening of Roger Cecil’s new exhibition at Oriel Myrddin in Carmarthen. Roger is one of Wales’s finest painters and this exhibition, exploring landscape and the female form, is a joy to visit. It was a pleasure to meet Roger and to see his new work the exhibition runs until August 27th and is well worth seeing.
I have been making casts of the wings of dead shearwaters and other wildlife in preparation for some glass casting I want to do. Not sure where this is leading but I`m sure that will become clear at some point along the way…
Yesterday I went to see Rozanne Hawksley‘s inspirational work in the cloisters of St Davids Cathedral. Rozanne is one of the UK`s leading textile artists and her pieces are amazing for their depth and contemplation. The exhibition continues until June 11th and is well worth a visit. Thank you to Rozanne for reminding me of the importance of drawing as a personal activity.
The evening concert by Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble as part of their Officium Novum Tour was out of this world. I went to London to hear Jan Garbarek last year and now he actually came to Pembrokeshire! I am so thrilled. I had permission to draw during the concert but decided just to bathe in the music.Wonderful. Nothing more to say. Hear them.
I spent the afternoon yesterday filming an interview in my studio for S4C’s Llwybyr Arfordir Sir Benfro series to be screened (in Welsh with sub-titles) this autumn. It was great to have the chance to chat with the interviewer, Damian Walford Davies, (a poet and writer based in Aberystwyth), who has a lot of similar interests in his work…islands, maps, archaeology, aerial perspectives, Bardsey……it was fantastic to share ideas and talk over ideas for our work – who knows where these conversations might lead?!
Special thanks to Ruby for helping me in preparing my Welsh!
I presented my week’s work on Skomer to all the inhabitants and occupants of Skomer island on Thursday evening in a show in my temporary studio space (better known as the Volunteer’s Lounge and Sue`s Potting Shed!) on the island. Everyone came and the opening was probably the best attended, noisiest and most friendly I have ever had!
Thanks to Chris and Sue for letting me use the space, to Mary Jo for the delightful canapes, and to everyone who came along and made the event a success.
My Skomer Bluebells painting course is under way and today we spent the day on the island sketching and making notes to bring back to the studio tomorrow.
I have been coming to Skomer for 18 years, I even lived there for a while when Den was Assistant Warden, but it was the first time I had been to the island this year and Skomer was resplendent in its cloak of bluebells and campion. The island has been so influential on my work and holds a special place in my heart. The colours, atmosphere and wildlife of the place are amazing. I am staying on the island next week to paint and am really excited about it.. Next year I really want to run a residential course on the island – anyone interested?
The season is two weeks ahead of normal schedule due to the warm weather in April and there was a lot of Puffin activity all around the island.
Congratulations to Kenny Gainforth, the boatman,who has just won the individual European Federation of Sea Anglers Trophy in competition in Ireland. Although somehow he didn`t have any mackerel to spare today! Well done Kenny!