Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Yellow Hill



On the yellow hill there are no memorials
But set before it are fractured hollows where stone should be
And in the ruins and tramways stand the quarry men's houses
Where there are voices that we cannot hear

Nails in boots on cobbles
The dust and toil
The hail, wind, rain and snow

This is the place where voices would have been heard
They would have been here mixed with steam and hammer blows and furnaces
Cranes, shovels, tuns

The birds would have seen the capped heads of men
Iron wheels and oiled hands

Now they see the yellow hill
The curling grasses
And grazing the empty land - sheep, ponies, cows
And a man with a dog
Scribbling.


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An idea for another painting is formulating.

Paul.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Hidden Voices




Apart from enjoying the snow, I have been preparing for the collaborative exhibition with Eleanor Flaherty www.eleanorflaherty.co.uk called 'Hidden Voices' due to open at Oriel Lliw at the Pontardawe Arts Centre from 12th Jan. We are both very pleased to have this opportunity to showcase the riches of the landscape of this part of the Brecon Beacons National Park.


Gathering Storm Eleanor Flaherty


The show has been self funded and aims to create a space where you can be enveloped by the experience of being in and under this landscape. It will include a sound scape, poetry, photography, drawing and painting and will be complimented by a self published magazine which will be available to purchase.

To that end we recently had the chance to go underground in part of the extensive cave system below the Upper Swansea Valley where I was able to make a large scale drawing using the mud from the cave floor and charcoal, which I have brought back to the studio to complete. Eleanor took some breathtaking photographs.

The Judge

Eleanor at the shrine


Making art is such a fraught business - the anxiety is always there for me at least about whether it makes a connection with its audience. I am so pleased that the two paintings I submitted for the Swansea Open have been sold to the same person - but even more important to me was that they made that connection.

Both Eleanor and me hope that this upcoming exhibition will do the same.


Paul.



Monday, 27 November 2017

Ok !

Sometimes life seems to be circuitous. Doors seem to open into places that were hinted at many years ago. It is as if I heard a whisper of these future events - a gut feeling if you like.

It is still a surprise though - almost like waking up from a long sleep.

I have been offered a place on the Masters in Fine Art and Contemporary Dialogues at the University of Wales Trinity St David's Swansea Campus. The strangest thing is the building incorporates my old Secondary School, the place where my art journey began.

I was given a tour by Ryan Moule the lead tutor. We walked through our old 6th form common room, the Gymnasium (where I sat many of my o'levels and still have nightmares of failing some miserably) and even passed my old art room - where I used to escape to avoid 'sport'. I remember our teacher Mr Deveraux would round up the boys who were put on detention and they would have to sit in the art room while us sixth formers drew them.

If all goes well I start in Sept 2018 doing the course part-time over 3 years.

Another turn of events was the opportunity to enter some artwork into the Swansea Open Competition in the newly renovated Glynn Vivian Art Gallery glynnviviangallery.org. The competition has not been running for some years due to the building work. I entered the two most recent paintings shown on previous blogs, 'Fathers' and 'Hillsong'. To my great surprise both were accepted. The show will run from 2nd Dec - 6th Jan. I am especially pleased because the selection committee included Owen Shears poet and playwright - both works included poems.

These two seemingly disparate events are actually linked - I first felt I really wanted to an artist when at the age of 17 one of my life studies of a boy in detention was shown in a schools exhibition at the Glynn Vivian and it was featured in an article in the South Wales Evening Post. Mr Deveraux however, kept my ego in check by pointing out the boy's feet were far too small !


It has taken me 30 years to come back to working as an artist on a more regular basis - and I'm a bit humbled and very excited at the prospect of doing the Masters.

Paul.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Master ?

Making a series of work based around the voices manifest in the hills - voices both audible - that of the creatures that inhabit the uplands - and inaudible - those that invade my mind and heart whilst being there - has focused my thinking around the word connection.

Limited studio space limits the size of work made, and I feel the need to expand - not just the scale but the limits of the materials I use exploring the concept of connection - can we truly connect with life and its mysterious force outside of ourselves - and what is the nature of that connection ? With this in mind I have decided to explore the possibility of pursuing a Masters Degree.

Today I took some images of current work and a piece from my degree show back in 1983 in order to reflect on whether I have travelled very far on my artistic journey, and to show Ryan Moule Pathway Leader MA Fine Art at UWTSD to see what he feels.

We will see.

Big Fish 1983


Universe 2017

Sink

Siphon



Post Industrial Lanscape2017



Paul

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Working on ' it'


When is a painting finished ?


I returned to the hills to walk the dog and take some reference photographs to try and capture the essence of the hills that I love along with many others who live and work within this landscape.




It is a visceral thing - walking the living ground seeing the weather and wilderness.

'It' is difficult to capture in life and in words.

I read a passage in the diaries of Virginia Woolf which expresses this much better than I could :

"I enjoy almost everything. Yet I have some restless searcher in me. Why is this not a discovery in life ? Something one can lay hands on and say 'This is it' ? My depression is a harassed feeling - I'm looking: but that's not it. What is it ? And shall I die before I find it ? Then (as I was walking through Russell Square last night) I see the mountains in the sky: the great clouds; and the moon which is risen over Persia, I have a great and astonishing sense of something there, which is 'it'. It is not exactly beauty that I mean. It is that the thing in itself is enough: satisfactory; achieved. A sense of my own strangeness, walking on the earth is there too: of the infinite oddity of the human position; trotting along Russell Square with the moon up there and those mountain clouds. Who am I, what am I, and so on: these questions are always floating about in me: and then I bump against some exact fact - a letter, a person, and come to them again with a great sense of freshness. And so it goes on. But on this showing, which is true, I think, I do fairly frequently come upon this 'it' ; and then I feel quite at rest."

This is a great description of the 'it' that motivates me to write, draw , paint and scribble.



 
So I return to the painting again and again trying to capture it !

Paul.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The need for rememberance

2/10/17


I went into the hills again to remind myself of the colours of autumn.
The yellows, oranges, golds.
The smell of wood smoke drifting in the air, and decaying leaves - of pine and mustiness
Of the river - its smell, light and sound.
Water has an indescribable smell - I cannot describe it - I'm not even sure if it is a pleasurable scent except perhaps to the thirsty.

I hear the sound of dry leaves clattering.

I collect all these in my minds eye and bring them back to the little room I call my studio.
I try to translate them into marks and colours.




I also collect conkers (a glut this year) in order to pot them up and  produce saplings in the spring - ready to be returned to the valley.



All these things dim the horror and bring the good things to remembrance.






Paul.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Telling a story

I have been drawing in the hills - returning to a favourite perch. Today I took my flask of coffee and the dog, my head still in its own fog - my reactions in slow motion.




I apologise to the minibus driver who must have thought I was ignorant - not ignorant just slow of brain.

I have been trying to capture the mood of the hills which strangely mirror my internal life.






A large queen bumble bee climbs into my drawing tin - she is dark with the drawing in of the year
I am such a foolish man
I want to cry - repent - be washed

Sheep bleat
A recorded voice drifts up from Dan - yr - Ogof

Ravens meet overhead
Waters meet underground

Underground is where I wish to be
To hide my bones

But today the sun lifts the hills into a reverie




Paul