re-imaging the mari lwyd 4

On the Mountain

2001 – Conté on Arches Paper – 122 x 153 cms

Photograph by Martin Wakelin

The ‘grey mare’ has transformed throughout the Mare’s Tale series from diabolic harbinger of death to battle-horse-adversary to the enigmatic bearer of the Deposition. In this last drawing the Mari, all energy spent, itself lies dying above Llangynidr… the study for the background was made during a visit to our friend William Gibbs, when he took me for a walk on land belonging to his family… and there can only be pity for its plight.

6 thoughts on “re-imaging the mari lwyd 4

  1. I’ve seen very few in this series but am bowled over by the ones I have seen. I wish I’d seen the exhibition, it must have been staggering. I find the drawing fraught and dark, tender and painfully honest; they’re exceptional.

    • Thank you Philippa. They’ve been impossible to see properly, stacked up in the studio since we moved here. I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed looking at them again, removed from under dusty glass to photograph. And now they’re being put back into newly painted frames and under clean glass, and can be wrapped ready to go to the Nat. Library in the Spring. I’m glad you think them good, because you’re no slouch yourself when it comes to drawing! (-;

  2. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that of all your work these really stand out for me. They no doubt appeal to my macabre sensibility but I also like the monochrome and the Picasso-like style. And the whole Mari Lwyd idea is a very strange one that seems to connect (and probably does) to things older than history.

    • These have been stacked in storage for so long that it’s been quite revelatory to clean off the dust and view them again after so many years. I see within them expressions of the troublesome past coalescing in a final expression of grief at my father’s death. The wonder of it is that I’d done nothing like them before, and indeed there has been nothing like them since. They arrived fully-formed, with very few preliminary drawings and only a couple of very rough compositional studies taped into a lined, spiral-bound notebook/studio diary of the process. But for the most part I worked directly onto the large sheets of Arches paper.

      Just looking at the series afresh, I don’t think it would have been possible to continue at such an emotional pitch and remain quite sane. Suffice to say I wouldn’t want to be feeling that way as a permanent condition.

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