Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Art in gardens

Two gardens

Last week I visited veddw.com and spent a pleasant afternoon in the company of my friend and walking buddy Charles Hawes. Charles along with the garden maker, author and journalist Anne Wareham have made the most amazing garden over many years in the beautiful county of Monmouthshire. I got to know Anne's writing first through her columns in The Telegraph gardening section, then tweeted to her about her book 'The Bad Tempered Gardener' and not long after found myself invited to the garden ! There I also met Charles and a friendship grew.

I tentatively muted to Charles a month or so ago the idea of us doing some kind of project together as he is a garden photographer, it was at this point he suggested that I place some of my work alongside his photography at Veddw.

My intention is to create some paintings of the garden itself - but currently there is some work depicting my garden, and other gardens I have visited hanging with Charles's photography in their small gallery area. Go to the web link above to find opening times of the garden, it is worth the visit, I guarantee you would not have seen a garden like this one in the UK.

Next Saturday I am at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dyffryn-gardens in the marquee - where there will be a display of beautiful orchids and some original and stunning botanical art by Polly O'Leary and some frescoes by me. I'm still trying to decide which to take though !

Please come along and say hello.


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Out of limbo

I have been quietly working on a series of new drawings and paintings on a larger scale for a collaborative exhibition/installation with Eleanor Flaherty coming up at the beginning of next year at Oriel Lliw Pontardawe. This is a challenging, exciting and different project - the like of which I haven't embarked upon since my Fine Art Degree.

I am really pleased and a little surprised that two of these drawings have been shortlisted for Oriel Cric Crickhowell orielcricgallery.blogspot.co.uk open competition in May 17. (these are featured in the previous blogpost)

During the past few weeks I also took part in www.twitter.com/ @twitrartexhibit exhibition in Stratford Upon Avon. This amazing collection of postcard art from all over the world has raised around fifteen thousand pounds for this years charity called mollyolly.co.uk

My card is still for sale on their website.

Finally I have been asked to be Artist in Residence at The Veddw www.veddw.co.uk . I am really excited about this, potentially working with Charles Hawes photographer and co - maker of the garden. I am waiting to see which direction this will take and will update on the progress.

So quietly breaking out of the arty limbo of the last 30 years !


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Walking the hills, connecting and bearing the soul to light

Light has a disarming effect -it lays me bare and highlights my imperfections.
It does the same to artwork
I need light.

I have been walking the hills, there is a physical and spiritual element to walking, and the beauty and solidity of landscape can have deep and profound effects. The landscape seems to mirror my interior landscape.

The uplands of South Wales have layers of human history carved into them.
I walked the hills above Blaenavon on Wednesday and have written a poem in response to them and what was going on within my own lanscape.

Like a prophecy the Iron hammer pounds my bones to dust.

I cannot hold on to the bright flower of the hills
I have to let go
To let the silver waters glide like glass
Between my fingers - the sharp cold imbolic stream
To let the blonde grasses curl away from me -
To coil and spiral like a distant universe.

I have to let my heart grow colder
The coals to dim
The ember die.

The dream was only ever of stars and heavenly places
The Twrch's imaginings
A contemporary legend.


Sunday, 26 February 2017

Making pictures for an exhibition

I am currently working on some images for a collaborative exhibition at the end of this year with the film maker and artist Eleanor Flaherty. www.eleanorflaherty.co.uk

Eleanor is a qualified mountain guide and an artist with soul - she leads guided walks into the hills locally.

A couple of weeks ago we followed the valley of the Twrch, and walked in an amazing landscape which transformed from post industrial to wilderness.

Our exhibition will be in the form of an installation based on this journey - it will consist of drawings and paintings along with photography, constructions and sound in order to invoke the sense of history of this landscape in the year of Legends.

I have begun some works on paper - the following piece is based on the red kite that we encountered wheeling above us in the post industrial landscape of hills with ancient large boulders dumped by glaciers 10,000 years ago.

I have used a series of symbols to represent our modern landscape - a form of hieroglyphs.
It is a start.


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Private passions laid bare

Making paintings and drawings has always been a private activity for me -because it is about my intimate relationship with creation and Creator. I am in no way unique and I would like to stress that there is a seed of eternity in all of us - and we search for a sense of connection through other like - minded people or through the landscape or through sport or craft or so many other ways.

All the rich possibilities are a way of feeling alive in a world where politically and religiously we feel hemmed in and controlled.

Making the process visible to others is like laying yourself open - making yourself vulnerable.

Even if my work does not connect with others I cannot help but make it. When it does connect it is such an amazing a thing - something beyond words. This is why I struggle with the idea of attaching a monetary value to it.

Here I am opening up another look into my studio space this morning. I have worked further on Landscape in Two Parts. After a walk in the biting wind this morning - feeling alive and trying to translate that to paper and plaster.

If you do want to connect with my work - there are some paintings at the Cafe Chameleon in Ystradgynlais - will be coming down soon. Also a few at Oriel lliw in Pontardawe. If you fancy a painting or drawing contact me by email.


Saturday, 4 February 2017

What if my name was David Hockney or Phillip Wilson Steer ?

What is in a name ?

Skill - artistry - experience - style - substance - uniqueness ?

How do names become names ?

I remember the valid criticism by my tutors in Portsmouth - that I was pursuing the empty dream of being original ! But what truly separates the 'Sunday painter' from the names ?

Alfred Wallis is a name - he became a name because his naive paintings were celebrated by Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. He was discovered.

There is nothing new under the sun - that is true. We are all influenced by each other and no-one is truly original. It may be a long wait before we are discovered !!

In the meantime I have continued to enjoy returning to my roots - being less tight in my painting and experimenting with paper and different shapes.

I recently walked another section of the Cambrian Way with my friends Charles and Neil. We walked from Rhandirmwyn to the remote hostel of Ty'n Cornel. We saw no other person on the entire walk.The valley was entirely silent apart from the sound of the river the buzzards and a lone dipper.

It was like being transported back in time - no roads or traffic - just raw landscape.

Here is my interpretation of it ....... Is it original ?!

Well I like it.


Monday, 23 January 2017

Post Industrial Landscape

I walked with Toff the whippet along the western bank of the River Tawe. It is the first time I have done so - and therefore I had a completely different perspective looking back up the valley towards home.

This is a worked land - much toil and strife and song.

There is something about this carved out land - carved by glaciers and men.

I see its beauty - the beauty and pain of past generations who believed in hard work - whose lives were short but rich in culture.

I try to ignore the plastic cartons - bags and debris dropped in contempt of it.

But this is my land.

I have made a small fresco called : Post Industrial landscape on crumpled paper - in response to the walk.


Monday, 9 January 2017

Where to draw the line?

Where do we draw the line - the stop line - the boundary ?

Boundaries have always interested me and as a human animal, creature, accident of biology and evolution or the intention of a creator : IT PUZZLES ME.

We need boundaries in order to have a decent life do we not ? Who sets these boundaries and who gets to take the High Ground in terms of what the boundaries should be?

We all now have an opinion on where they should be set - along various philosophical ideas about what is deemed good or evil.

The President Elect of the USA has been able to squash people with rhetoric and justify it, others in response have called out the need for a form of political correctness based on what ? Shared values of decency ? Are they truly shared .... We are seeing fault lines and our true nature begins to become apparent and it is truly frightening.

I draw - I create marks on paper and in plaster of Paris - I make statements in pigment and line - like all of us who create. There always has to be a boundary. We draw lines.

I know I try to keep what are good laws - do not murder, do not steal, do not cheat, do not defraud your neighbour, help those in need etc - and they will never lose their importance because they are fundamentally right and keep us on a path that brings help not harm, but we struggle to stay within the boundaries, in fact I kick against them sometimes like a toddler that wants HIS WAY.

What is about to happen to us is what we have created, certainly not God or gods.

Love though covers over a multitude of wrongs. If only we could love. In the meantime I continue to love the land we live on.


See artsinthetawevalley.com for next exhibition - When Love Speaks.