Wednesday, 11 July 2018

In the waiting corner

While I'm waiting to start the MA in September I have continued to make larger drawings on paper based on sketches made in North Wales and in my garden.

I have started using a scalpel to cut out parts of the drawings  - it feels more like sculpting and is akin to how I work in the garden.

My nerves are building now.


Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Still scratching

Hello - not sure if anyone is still out there as it has been a while since I posted on here.

I've been going through a period of doubt and that old chip on the shoulder thing has returned - what if my artwork really isn't any good - perhaps I have nothing valid to say - and fresco is way out dated as a technique or method of producing images. I'm just a small man making small irrelevant pieces of artwork !

See - it's hard to read isn't it ? But I think many artists go through this.

Then I had a lovely response to a commission piece I posted a picture of to the client, and thought what a fool I am.
The piece will be winging its way to its new owner in Australia early next year.

I've also started a new piece based around a poem called ' In(sect) Memorium ' This piece was a response to seeing less insects in my garden ( and in the general environment ) so far this year. It is also 'Insect Week' I discovered today.

I have always been fascinated by insects and have childhood memories of my father's small garden being full of them , from grasshoppers to crickets to dragonflies, moths, butterflies and various species of ant. I collected them and studied them - even made models of them - but now our gardens are getting quieter and our windscreens are less splattered, and I hardly ever see a ladybird or indeed that many greenfly. Along with their decline I have witnessed a decline in what were once common birds, swifts, martins, sparrows, starlings. This year though the absence of insects is much more obvious - is it a result of that late cold spell ?

Here is the painting in its progression.


Wednesday, 11 April 2018


I continue my struggle with words and images. I was not satisfied with the window image so instead worked on a poem about hands.

The main issue I have is with my scruffy handwriting - although when I posted a photograph of this poem on Twitter Ian McMillan poet and presenter seemed to think my scrawl was acceptable - I'll take his approval.

The poem was triggered in my mind whilst washing my hands in our 'tired' bathroom - tired is the word used by people who want to sell us bathrooms - it is circa 1980's but with some arty twists.

Remember that bitter east wind - well I'd been working in the garden, my hands were very cold and washing them under hot water made me realise how privileged a thing it really is to have water on tap and a roof over my head.

Here it is in more legible form which is a revised version which needs to be edited on the fresco !

Giving Thanks

As I washed my cold hands under a hot tap
I gave thanks for hot water
Thanks for the old bathroom with its 80's tiles, sink and bath.

Do I thank myself for earning enough to pay a mortgage ?
Do I congratulate my work ethic ?
I am grateful beyond the material

Perhaps I should thank the stars - but they are without conscience
Boiling gases from the beginning of time

I thank a person made in heaven once called the bright and morning star
Perhaps not as tangible as THE stars
Or a mortgage
Or work
Or even the sweat of my brow

I recognise in this moment that I do not live on bread alone
I see a man not a vaporous God
Not an ether or a cloud
His hands were pierced
Strange that he is not a woman - perhaps he's not read his twitter feed

How do I know this is genuine/real ?
Well, this morning washing my cold hands in warm water
I felt embraced
As I acknowledged how this one small comfort is monumental
Warm water on cold hands
Sheltered from the east wind

I gave thanks.

So more work to do on the words


Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Experimenting with more words and images


The day passes quickly
With snow this morning melted now
And sun moving towards the DX -
It reaches in through the afternoon window of the thinking room
It moves from east to west
Or from left to right
Hides first behind the pines
Then the edge of Allt-Ty- Grug

February sun is low in the sky
So low it highlights the texture of this page
My wrinkled hand
And the threadbare hair upon it

Every day it ticks past this window to the clock's hands
Whether I live here or not
I grasp the day though
And love the way the back lit paintings on the sill come alive

I love the size of this sunny window
And the way it warms the room and my older bones
I see sparks of light
And cultivate a whole forest of ideas in my armchair
As this earth's day continues its flight
Through the eternal air

Now to translate this into a painting.

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


An idea for another painting is formulating.


Saturday, 16 December 2017

Hidden Voices

Apart from enjoying the snow, I have been preparing for the collaborative exhibition with Eleanor Flaherty 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.


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 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.