Sunday, 12 October 2014

Happy conker encounters...

I've decided to use conkers for my Rhod in Roath garden installation. Growing up in Pontcanna, I remember Autumn in Cardiff being the loveliest thing. Walking to the school bus, crunchy leaves drifting over garden walls and filling the streets, the misty hint of rain in the air, and competitive conker collecting in Llandaff fields, stuffing dad’s bike saddle bags with conkers as dusk descended. For a Cowbridge Road girl, Roath was the land of leisure, terrapin, rose gardens and rowing boats, bohemians, ice creams and hanging out. This garden intervention is inspired by Jacob Whittaker’s path of vinyl records last year (entitled Now!18), and is made in celebration of this green city in arguably its most beautiful season. 

In my search for conkers I've had a some heart warming encounters. Last saturday I went to Carmarthen park. There was already a couple and their 9 year old son hunting for conkers which were pretty thin on the ground. For a laugh and to get over my embarrassment ( a grown-up conker-ing on my own) i said
"hey, have you had all the conkers?  they laughed. I laughed.
Ten minutes later the little boy offered me more than half of his conkers! I did feel a bit bad , and tried to make him keep them, but in the end hid mum in sited that he doesn't need any more conkers at home.
Thank you kind people! Then I saw some more horse chestnut trees further down in the park, rich pickings. I was assisted by an old lady, and then some little polish girls on bikes who told ne they were going to use their conkers to make "a shiny dragon". Searching for conkers brought back all the warm happy feelings I remember conker-ing in Llandaff fields and Ninian Park.

Rhod in Roath, 19 Ninian RD

As a previos Rhod exhibitor I've been invited to make work for a garden on Ninian Road as part in Rhod in Roath (Made in Roath festival 2014). This has given me an excuse to indulge in a little nostalgia. Growing up in Pontcanna, I remember Autumn in Cardiff being the loveliest thing. Walking to the school bus, crunchy leaves drifting over garden walls and filling the streets, the misty hint of rain in the air, and competitive conker collecting in Llandaff fields, stuffing dad's bike saddle bags with conkers as dusk descended. For a Cowbridge Road girl, Roath was the land of leisure, terrapins, rose gardens and rowing boats, bohemians, ice creams and hanging out. 

                                                                                            Family photos taken in Roath in the early1990s. 

Without wanting to go too gooey and nostalgic, I can't quite resist the opportunity which exhibiting in Roath provides; to reconcile memories with their place, attempt to bring fading memories into now by returning them to the place where they first occurred. I am aware this might be a personal indulgence but could also act as a way to celebrate Roath. 

Friday, 3 October 2014

The Garden 2014

The Garden exhibition was conceived and curated by Kate Dunwell and Seren Stacey in 2013 as an opportunity for ourselves and other artists to re-build our confidence and have an opportunity to develop new work for the former Nevern Nurseries site which was itself being lovingly restored. The Garden 2014 was drawn together curatorially by Seren Stacey and Rose Wood with many artists creating new works and installation in response to the site. The artwork sat sensitively within the site, complementing rather than competing with the rambling natural surroundings. More images and info:

LL& P colour card

From January to March 2014 I took regular walks around Llandysul and Pontweli cataloguing colours and textures to correspond to the well known and beautifully branded paint charts of Farrow & Ball. The  idea came about when as I pored over colour charts (of various makes) whilst redecorating, and then took walks to try and stimulate my creativity. The paint charts got stuck in my mind and my eyes seemed sensitised to the range and subtlety of colours all around me. Paint names are already widely known to be amusing, hyperbolic; Steel Symphony, Overtly Olive. I began to play on this, giving  my new colours their own names relating to their location, subject or my personal response to them. The chart and a map of my walks are made into a limited edition colour card and a series of large scale prints. Exhibited at Colony 2014 ,Cardigan and The Garden 2014, Nevern. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Made in Drefelin 2014

More images:

Monday, 2 June 2014


Making the 45 minute journey to Swansea after a day’s work at the gallery to check out what these artists were up, I already felt a bit like a tourist. I arrived at our meeting place, the Travelodge on Princess Way, without realising that we’d be guided into the building. The slightly awkward preamble of taking the lift and entering a guest room, with all its familiar tack and utility helped us to relinquish control, to willingly suspend our disbelief, prepared to be tourists, passengers on a journey. Once given headphones we were strapped into the rollercoaster car together and could feel the ratcheting mechanism pulling us into an adventure as we took the stairs to street level. 

Walking into the last of the sun to the sound of some laid back music definitely felt cool. A warm breeze in our faces, feet casually padding to the beat. It sounded like the leitmotif for some mafia bosses, perfect as we passed the Mama Mia! restaurant on the corner. We may not have looked all that cool to the spaghetti slurping customers as we trooped past in matching pink headphones, but the auditory distraction somehow made us feel unashamed, license to gawp. I was genuinely taken in by the sound effects when a low whirring made me swing my head round to see that we were passing some industrial fans, the restaurant’s air con. Through an ‘un-salubrious’ passage where the waiter on his cigarette break and a sleeping drunk could have been planted, we emerged onto Wind Street. Being shepherded across the road in our dreamlike state to Castle Square with its Big outdoor TV (30ft high and wide). We were presented with the iconic ‘beep’ music from BBC News and a disturbing news report followed by gunfire, then the group broke into a run, cutting across some confused looking shoppers to find shelter at the back of McDonald’s, adding a raised heart-rate to the sensory cocktail.

We were taken on a tour of the back-ways and service alleys of the city centre. As we passed the delivery bays at the back of a department store the beep of a lorry reversing rang out like a ghost noise, resounding after the event. The square columns of an un-named bar were falling apart, revealing the boxed wood facade, like a stage set. A clue perhaps that things were not quite as they seemed? Swansea makes a good backdrop for an apocalyptic movie or video game. The piped sounds and film quotations began to put a dark spin on what would ordinarily seem like a harmless high street. The combination of chain stores after closing time and the odd empty shop, all a little crumbly round the edges formed a good canvas on which to project a story of capitalist breakdown or some unknown disaster. It was the time of day when the shopping streets were empty, save for the swarming seabirds.  A ringing phone needed answering.  Ominous snippets of dialogue from The last of us cast a Hitchcockian shadow on the squabbling gulls. Phone boxes acted as handy props and markers on our journey as Jason answered the ringing phones to hear conversations from films like Speed, drawing our attention to the presence of this almost redundant street furniture. Much of the city scenery could have been stage flats, a living set compete with litter and vomit, a lone cyclist wheeling round in aimless circles under a giant television screen, a group of young people also wearing headphones  silently filing past us like a strange mirror image of ourselves. The tight stairways of multi-storey car parks are the kind of public spaces I’d usually avoid, especially at night. This walk was both empowering - stalking round these dingy places in a group, on a mission - and a reminder of just how oppressive some of the built environment can be (extremely low ceilings and urine scented passageways) .

The walk went on for some time, long enough to drift in and out of self-consciousness. I felt I was walking with one eye watching myself,  observing my own thoughts as I experienced different spaces and sounds. There was some internal battle for me as my desire to be swept along and escape my ‘everyday’ fought with the fact that I couldn’t fully suspend my disbelief in the sound world and narrative. Rather like playing Paintball, we can get carried away with the thrill, the drama, but we know that if we’re shot in the chest it is still only paint bullets. I observed that my body wanted to play along with the changing dynamics. Running, drifting and filing through dark passageways all created drama and excitement, but I wondered if the use of words (from films and games) broke the spell a little? Sound and music have a visceral effect, often bypassing the mind, whereas words seem to activate a noisy thought dialogue and also fix things to specifics. But the artists had chosen to show us the city centre through this particular filter, drawing on references in our popular consciousness - my job was to go along for the ride. But the artists had also negotiated for serendipity. They could never have full control of everything the participants experienced. Some magical moments couldn’t have been planned, like rounding a corner and emerging from a dingy low ceilinged car park, past Jeremy Deller’s painted wall (“More poetry is needed”), to see a full, low hanging moon, pale and papery above the uniform horizon of the Swansea rooftops, lending this moment greater significance. High up on the roof of another multi-storey , we looked down over Swansea’s maritime quarter, like the scene at the end of a film or on completion of a game the sound of helicopter blades buzzed below, we were the survivors, and the moon a full stop on our journey. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

TABERNACLE MARCH 2014 (Colony Project)

A crowded train ride to Port Talbot Parkway on a Saturday, Swansea playing football at home, and Llandovery playing rugby in Cardiff, its a tight squeeze. Arriving at Aberafan, a balmy day, a casual feeling town. Google maps takes me on a circuitous route along the back alleys lined with garages, quite 'Anthony Stokes'?. Overshooting the Tabernacle Newydd takes me further into the town, towards the looming mound of a hill behind, rows of houses framed by the concrete pillars of the fly-over, a church or chapel on every corner it seems. "Excuse me, do you know where the Tabernacle is?", "Oh now there's a question. You've caught me out, I know this place like the back of my hand, but now you ask.... its not the Pentacostal you want?",  "I don't know, um, I know it's a chapel which is closed, there's an exhibition on?" , " Oh right then I think its the Newydd you're looking for, it's that way..".
I arrive 2 minutes later, not so far off course, but nice to have met that lady, saying hello to every passer-by as she walks me to the main road again. Inside the hushed entrance, a choice of directions. I take the winding staircase to my left, enjoying the feeling of anonymity, not being greeted at the door, it  feels like a private exploration. I don't want to bump into anyone. I want to enjoy discovering tiny rooms, pink, peeling plaster and  smooth, atmospheric photographs (Kathryn Campbell- Dodd), encountering artists' response to the wealth of historical material and ephemera found onsite (Lee Willimas), the dubious legacy of missionaries (Samoa work) , dispersed ice on paper, releasing colour and stories once trapped within - an aesthetic and poetic reflection of transience and this shell of a building (Naomi Hopkins). Sitting on the chaise longue I hear the chapels of West Wales telling their stories whilst staring at the ceiling which looks like an abandoned swimming pool (Gwrando). Then footage of bus journeys curving past chapels (Jacob Whittaker), amid the staged 'set', a still life with fresh flowers and doilies, and a vinyl of Christmas Evans, a Llandysul preacher. Fascinating too, to hear how the host and caretaker of Tabernacle Newydd has sorted the place out and different, maybe radical to see students and young people responding to the site alongside established artists like this. Exciting and stimulating. See more pictures on flickr: TABERNACLE MARCH 14

More info:

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Daily capture..

'Daily Capture' workshop with Clare Thornton at Coleg Sir Gar introduced the notion of 'turning up the dial on the everyday' through a daily ritual of collecting information.This information could come in any form; a photograph, a written diary, a drawing or a collected object. We were sent off to find 'a static surface' and 'a moment in time'. We were given a pile of everyday materials, cling film, hazard tape, ribbon. I took the foil. Walking around the art college, going from the toilets to the coffee shop all felt pretty nostalgic for me so I decided to use the foil to take an impression of the walls. I started to enjoy the pressure of my body against the wall, feeling into the wall like an old friend, like contact improvisation. I would like to try this on a much bigger scale, and get other artists or an audience to try it too. 

When we brought our materials back 20 minutes later we had to consider how we might turn what we had into an installation 'as if you were having an open studios tonight'.We scaled up photographs and enlarged drawings in ribbon across the space. It was great to collaborate and to make an installation in just 20 minutes.       

Seeing red... ( and blue)

..the serendipity of sightseeing, drifting through my own neighbourhood in Llandysul and Pontweli. 

I went out with a blue and red marker pen and a book of marker paper under my arm with a view to draw en plein air, referring back to an art school exercise, using only two colours to create perspective and depth. After drawing several street intersections from the bypass flyover I wondered into the Jones & Davies (Fruit) ltd. yard to discover the wonderfully sculptural pallet stacks, resplendent in blue and red. perhaps it was the phenomenon of perceptual vigilance, of noticing the red and blue because I had those coloured pens in my pocket, but the precariously leaning towers offered an intriguing challenge. I shouldn't have been so surprised a week later when I found they had all been re-organised. I was attached to the snapshot in my mind and forgot that these pallets are used to carry fruit and veg around the country, evidenced by a solitary cabbage leaf on the ground. This is when I began a regular routine of visiting and documenting the shifting sands of my new site, a drawing in many stages over time.           

Stage in a drawing made later away from the site. pencil, ink and white emulsion.

First drawing trip with marker pens.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

New Year drawings 2014...

View from my window, Llandysul, 2014 blue and red marker pen, on marker paper.
29.7 x 42 cm

Cats on the roof, Llandysul, Jan 2014
 blue and red marker pen, on marker paper,29.7 x 42 cm

Pontweli flyover, jan 2014
 blue and red marker pen, on marker paper,29.7 x 42 cm