Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Sense of place

I have continued experimenting drawing with plaster on paper - using a brush to spread the wet plaster over thick paper and then using

an engraving tool to draw into it whilst in its cheese stage.

I have used my sketch book diaries as source material and tried to recreate a sense of place. One of the places which resonates history and a grounded spirituality is Newport in Pembrokeshire.

Here I have attempted to capture the connection between the ethereal and the natural.

The process is open to accidental effects due to the distortion of the paper but I am looking for a fragility and rawness that the all plaster frescoes do not have.

What do you think ?


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

New works on paper

I have continued to experiment with plaster on paper.

Naturally the paper distorts and the plaster surface can crack but I like the fragility of  the process the jeopardy , the fine line between existing and decaying.

I am revisiting my sketchbooks.

This painting which is 550 mm x 450 mm is of a walk around Dinas Head in Pembrokeshire in May.

I wanted a sense of journey to be apparent.  There is a story that goes along with the image which documents what was seen and felt.

I may do more.


Monday, 12 December 2016

How love can restore a valley

Here is the first work I have made using plaster wash on paper. I hope to enter it for the next www.artsinthetawevalley.com exhibition.

I am excited by the possibilities this technique has opened up , and look forward to experimenting further.

I hope it's not sweet .


Sunday, 4 December 2016

Looking for love

The next opportunity to exhibit will be with www.artsinthetawevalley.com and the theme for the next show is LOVE.

Love has always been a tricky subject for me ...perhaps it is for most of us ? Love is gentle, love is kind; it does not boast.

I am afraid of arousing love in case I break it.

I love the landscape I love the colours in nature, I love the patterns made by shadows on tree bark, I love the river ... but loving another human .... that becomes more complicated because unlike the river we are complicated.

I experience a deep spiritual love for the natural world ...so much so that its beauty sometimes makes me weep. I sense this love in my fellow creatures .. but it feels dangerous.

So how do I express this love, this precipice this sense of something bigger and not in my control ?

I am a foundling - found of Christ - an unpopular thought these days due to all that 'religion' has done to damage the perception of the Son of Man. Like the song says - what if he was one of us ? Now there is a thought ....one of us without the internal mess. What if he was the link to all that is of beauty ?

Sorry people to be so off putting ... but I cannot dump my faith in his rooting.

I have an image in my mind. It came to me whilst standing on the bridge over the River Tawe at Godrergraig. The leaves off the trees were being carried downstream towards the sea, they were being churned in the depths of the river - oranges, reds and golds, they would sink down into the earthen stained water only to rise again.

I did a drawing from memory.

Having recently been moved by the works of Louise Bourgeois in the Hauser and Wirth gallery in Bruton Somerset, moved by their rawness and honesty, I realised how far my work had drifted from this edgy rawness.

I hope to try out some new techniques with plaster on paper. The fact that my work has been described as 'sweet' made me realise how far I have retreated from the edge.


Tuesday, 15 November 2016


Sorry for the silence - just needed a break from my own voice for a while. Silence is a rare and precious commodity.

I recently visited a good friend in Wells. It was a time of reflection - a valuable time for me....

Suddenly Autumn bursts out with glory - the glory of the only begotten
Full of grace and truth.

Life ends and the trees remain
Despite wounds

Voices like heaven's angels
A precise polyphony
Echo around the ancient chapel.

I am blackened by fire like the walnut tree
And like a black spot on the face of a pale bishop
I feel at odds with the harmony.

My heart is like stone
Like oak
Like wax
A heart of flesh
A vulnerable heart.

We lay ourselves open to the seasons end.


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Newport before and after Georgia O Keeffe

We keep returning to Newport Pembs.
It is a place with a definite identity - the history speaks out of its walls and landscape.

I just love the curving hills and estuary.

I sketched and took photographs.

Then on to London to absorb the landscapes of Georgia O Keeffe .
Georgia had a strong sense of place and I identify with her.

I am making some new paintings based on Newport - starting with this shore crab reaching for the moon!


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Shielded by birds


Up in the blue above this house
Between white cumulus
The whistle of red kite
Two glistening red/brown
Turn upsidedown
Engage with outstretched claw
And peel off
An acrobatic display
Followed by a pair of mewing buzzards.


A sparrowhawk
Chased higher and higher
In swirls and spirals
By a pair of small birds
A crescendo of harassment
Until she stoops
And plummets earthward
Like an arrow.


Raucous ravens call to each other
So close
They touch wing tips
In a feathered kiss.

Fresco - shielded by birds


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Carving mountains

Thoughts from the studio

All mindless is the stuff of life
The things I fill the time with
The anger and the internet
The quality of the service

So divorced am I
From the purpose of living
To work
To gather
To toil under the sun
That my mind drifts to Facebook pages
One after the other

But I look up
And see the blue and cumulus sky
The contrasts of the turning foliage
That unmasks the lie that I am living

Oh garden
Oh flowers of the field
Do not awaken this fool from his dreaming

I hear the raven and its wings
I see a wool carder on scabious
And a tortoiseshell
Not now so numerous

I carve a mountain with my hand
And my eyes walk along its ridge
I lift the sky
And lower cloud
And bring it to its conclusion

O fool of fools
O cheating heart
That steals from God's loving arms
His time
His purpose
His forgiveness


The new works will be displayed along with the associated writings at Cafe Chameleon Ystradgynlais from Oct 4th

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


I have just completed a second version of oak swirl. The first was sold at the National Botanic Garden of Wales Orchid Show. www.botanicgarden.wales

Thank you for buying it.

I have made another version because I wanted to explore its meaning a little further.

When I made the fist painting - it was based on a swirl of leaves and oak galls on a topiary oak in my garden. In making the painting I confess I saw sexuality in its forms. This got me thinking about my own sexuality and the power of the sexual drive within us. This is something that has challenged me all my life - and instead of diminishing as I thought it would - it remains the same - and thereby causes me trouble of mind.

Now if this is too much information - please could you forgive me - but it is something I wish to deal with - and writing this helps.

This second version is more overt - It reminds me of the Biblical story of the beginning of our troubles - that of Adam and Eve and the drive to know not just good but also evil - to have the same knowledge as God - trouble is knowing both - experiencing both - being both is the curse !

Now I do not believe that sexual pleasure is evil - not by any means - but if it is pursued in a selfish way without love and tenderness and respect for the other soul then it becomes empty in my view. That is all good you may say but what about its powerful drive - well therein lies the struggle, and I am sure I will struggle with it for a while yet.

I hope this explains the painting - so no it is not just about oak leaves !

PS - The oak gall wasp is a stand in for the serpent - the sting - the fly in the ointment.

The heavenly and the earthly

This burning yearning comes and goes.
In its last throes
It convulses repulses and dies.

The curse is our knowledge
Carnal and spiritual
The two entwined in an earthly struggle.

Find love and the curse dies.



Saturday, 27 August 2016

We have just the one body - this body

Today I have been drawing again with fellow artists under the guidance of Leanne Vaughan-Phillips (find her on Facebook).

I'm tentatively finding my way back into drawing.
The body we are given should be celebrated. So often we see such negative imagery or press comments on 'celebrity' bodies. We are told how we should be.

I worry about how my body looks - how deep these messages reach. Messages from our own upbringing can also make us fear and be disgusted by our bodies.

I admire those who have confidence in the body they have - and I am trying to reach that place through observation and reflection. Thank you Leanne for giving us this opportunity.


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Why cabinet of curiosity ?

I started a new piece of work today using the kind of materials I used back in the 1980's.

We use recycled wood for our wood burner - and I found some offcuts which lend themselves to being used for collage/relief work.

I had found a butterfly caught on the front of the car a few weeks back - I knew it was a skipper of some kind - I identified it as a large skipper. I felt immensely sad about the demise of this small but beautiful butterfly.

Today I made a painting of the butterfly on a fragment of plaster, then arranged and rearranged the wood within the frame until plaster, wood and background formed a kind of balance.

The composition and fossil-like butterfly painting reminded me of those sad lines of butterflies pinned in museum cabinets - I was fascinated as a child by the collections in Swansea and Cardiff museums. Many of the butterflies in those collections were once common - now they are a much rarer sight.

Then this came to my mind :

Cabinet of curiosity

This species of butterfly may become locked in cabinets
And dusty.

We only see them fleetingly
Soon forgotten.
We take photographs
But we squash and spray their progeny
We cut down grasses
And woodland.

We are curious creatures
We worry about many things
Yet remain blind to the most precious visitations
Until we see them no more and our eyes are suddenly opened.