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!

Summer Update

I have been very busy making new work, hanging a summer exhibition and building a new website which will go live next week and have neglected my blog somewhat, so apologies for that.

My gallery in Pembrokeshire is open every day in August from 10am to 6pm.

shower

gallery

Since I last posted I have installed the Glass Quilt I made with 180 primary school children at Narberth School, which can be seen on the outside wall of the school.
narberthschool

I have also been working on a new series of work called ‘Hiraeth’, which is based on the stories of Welsh people who emigrated to The States in the 18th and 19th Centuries. This work has been researched in Pembrokeshire Archives and online, and five of the resulting pieces have been selected for an exhibition by Elysium Gallery, Swansea which will tour to Colorado in September this year.

In addition I have been working with Rachel Phillips on a commission for Bro Preseli, a sheltered housing scheme in Crymych. This commission is due to be installed later this week and consists of 8 double glazed panels which form an internal wall in the building. glass_1

There are still a few places left on my painting course from the 22nd to 29th September on the fabulous Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire. This course is suitable for both beginners and experienced artists and is a unique opportunity to spend an intensive time working with me and exploring the colours and textures of the island. Skokholm is a wonderful place to stay and as the island is a Bird Observatory there will also be opportunities to study birds in the hand, see Manx Shearwaters close-up and have a night time visit to the Storm Petrel colony. For more information and to book please email me.

Art walking in the footsteps of science…

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.

Sifting sandstone I collected to use in my work.

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!!

A page from my glass notebook.

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.

Here are some details of island life….