Aberystwyth Revisited

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’.

Lichen Plate, Mixed Media 45 x 30cm

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 at Roger Cecil's exhibition opening in Carmarthen this afternoon

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.

Part of the submerged ancient forest at Borth.

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.

Cornish Landscape by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

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.

A wing and a prayer….

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.

Filming for S4C

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!

Oriel y Shed Exhibition Opening!

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.

Here is a selection of the work on show:

A great day sketching on Skomer!

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!

Easter painting days in my studio.

“I haven`t had so much fun with paint since I was four years old!”, said Gill, one of the students on my painting course today.

My next course runs 10-13th May and includes a day sketching among the bluebells on Skomer Island.

Easter orchids and cuckoos…

Heard my first cuckoo yesterday above Rosebush and this morning I saw my first orchids down at Llandeilo, spring has truly sprung!

The weather has been amazing and the sunsets have been fantastic. The colours this landscape produces are awe inspiring.

This morning I walked in Llandeilo woods past the old mill and over the quarry, evidence of the past everywhere, mulling over ideas for new glass pieces….

Today I am preparing my studio for students who are coming on a weekend painting course, looks like being a great weekend!