This week we had a visit from Kathryn Campbell, an artist based in Carmarthenshire who trained as a calligrapher. We have been searching for a calligrapher who can work with us to incorporate the beautiful couplets written by Damian Walford Davies in the windows. Kathryn is an artist I have known about for a while but had no idea she was a talented calligrapher, and, what’s more she is excited about our work and able to fit in to our tight deadline! Incorporating the poems in the windows needs careful thought and we have gone through a number of options and approaches, finally we decided we need to commission a calligrapher in order to do the work, and the poems, justice.
The painting is coming along well, we need to get all the glass painted and delivered to Swansea in a fortnight’s time for leading in order to comply with our installation date of March 8th.
I took a day in the week to work with Sarah Harman on our Rosebush Quarry project “Canu’r Oer Wynt”. This is a project I began in the autumn supported by a research and development grant from Arts Council Wales. I have been researching in archives, interviewing local people and experimenting with some glass ideas in my kiln, but since November the project has taken a back seat because of the Conwy commission. Sarah is a singer/songwriter and talented choir leader who is planning to write a suit of songs based on the history of the quarry, together we interviewed local people who remember the railway in Rosebush when it was operational, Peter Claughton, an industrial archaeologist and Geraint Harries, a friend and local man who works for The Pembrokeshire National Park Authority. We recorded the interviews to form the basis of our research for our project and discussed our ideas and plans. It was good to get back into this project.
The gallery has been converted back into a stained glass workshop and the wonderful Carwyn has constructed fantastic easel light boxes to enable us to work on all three panels together. We have been ailing with seasonal bugs but have been enjoying painting up some glass and preparing pieces for sand blasting. It is great to have the templates and cut lines up in the studio and to actually begin to assess light and colour.
I went to a fantastic gig at Cuffern Manor this week, Julie Murphy and Ceri Owen Jones performed new pieces from their upcoming album, ably supported by Fiddlebox. Julie’s songs are tender and poignant and their collaboration embodies the best of traditional and contemporary work, poetry and music, and, amazingly, Ceri played a piece from the medieval ap Huw manuscript – one of the manuscript sources I have been consulting for my windows project…synchronicity at its best!…dreaming of a harp in the chapel..!
I spent a day in Aberystwyth last weekend researching some new work and collecting material to take to Northlands. Part of my day was spent in charity shops and part in the National Library of Wales, and it occurred to me that both places are repositories of old (Welsh) stuff, one discarded and the other valued and archived.
I realised that my studio more closely resembled the junk shop than the library, and that maybe that is why I am finding it so hard to settle and focus on work there. It feels like I have too many ideas and they were spread out over every surface, making it physically and emotionally difficult to concentrate on one thing while all the others were vying for my attention.
The library offered a solution – I could archive my ideas! This was so obvious that I couldn`t believe I hadn`t thought of it before! I ordered some archive boxes and set about cleaning my studio and tackling the chaos,it took me all week and was time well spent..
Now my studio is once again my sanctuary, and I smile when I go in there. Finally I am ready to get on with some work. This Northlands course is teaching me things before I even leave home!
I managed to sell enough work to go on my Northlands Masterclass! Thanks to those who took advantage of my discount offer and supported me by buying some work.
Yesterday I had a crises of confidence about going when I discovered that I will be working alongside some of the most talented glass artists around. I had a very reassuring email from Michael Rogers, the tutor, and today I feel only excited and full of anticipation about working with people who are so engaged with their practice.
Michael has asked all participants to bring with them a small suitcase of inspirational material to work with and I spent the day in the junk shops of Cardigan selecting priceless objects of Welshness to take with me to Caithness.
Cardigan proved a great place to start my search, it is full of cheap tourist places and charity shops (the most disorganised and grubby ones are best for this kind of thing) and I set myself the target of not spending more than £2 on an object. Michael has given me licence to hang out in the most fascinating emporia known to man and a budget is a necessary constraint if my studio is not to become even more of a junk store!
I love the serendipity of what you find in these places and of the co-incidences and connections you discover along the way. My suitcase is going to need some heavy editing, and that is a good process for me to apply to my ideas in general. Sometimes I feel that I have too many ideas and can not find the space to explore any of them deeply enough, archiving them and putting them in boxesmay just help with that, enable a lot of things to coexist without becoming overwhelming – why did n`t I think of this before?!
I had lunch in Y Pantri, a lovely local cafe, strictly tea and toasted sandwiches, not a tapas in sight! Quite a change from Narberth! So a successful days hunting and I topped it off with a visit to see the Cardigan Cardigan, an enormous (5m x 2.5m) cardigan knitted by local people last year to celebrate 900 years of the towns heritage. Inspired by the work of assistant designer, Susan McComb, the work is mostly in cable stitch and was knitted by 300 people of all ages and abilities, who met and knitted together, or in their own homes, over 9 months. A wonderful example of a truly inclusive community art project.
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.