the theatre of the mantel-shelf

Today on our sitting-room mantel-shelf, sandwiched between Ceridwen’s Welsh dragon and one half of  the pair of Staffordshire King Charles spaniels that once belonged to my mother, two treasures add to the company of players. The beautiful ceramic is by Wendy Lawrence, and was given to me this Summer as a birthday gift.  The Matisse-like wire sculpture is by the painter Sara Philpott, a house-warming gift to Ty Isaf on the occasion of our first Christmas here nearly five years ago. I love gifts that evidence  the skills of the givers, and these two reward in a multiplicity of ways. Wendy’s ceramic has grown large, becoming a megalith in a landscape where Sara’s elegant centaur lassoes down a star from the sky while giant birds gather rowan berries and sway on airy fronds.

the illustrator who mistook his waiter for the devil

Paul Bommer’s wonderful silkscreen print Le Diable is back from the frame shop in Aberystwyth and now hangs at Ty Isaf at the turn of the stairs leading to our bedroom. I should have thought ahead and photographed it before it was glazed, but alas forgot, so I fear the above image is not as true as I would like because I had to shoot it in the shade to stop the reflections from being too disfiguring. Paul says the devil’s likeness was based on a waiter of his acquaintance, though he assures me he definitely didn’t know him quite as well as the print might imply! I had the print generously mounted and framed… frame size 87 x 65 cms… and it looks wonderfully handsome on the wall. The text, borrowed from Dante’s The Divine Comedy, translates as ‘All hope abandon, ye who enter in.’, referring to the warning emblazoned on the gates of Hell.

You can see another silkscreen print of Paul’s that hangs at Ty Isaf HERE.

that face

Since 2003 a friend’s face has regularly been turning up in my work. Visitors to my National Library of Wales Retrospective will have seen him in different guises in several paintings. (Having your likeness borrowed is a fact of life for those who keep company with artists, as Peter discovered when he found himself cast as Dysart in the images I made for the Old Stile Press illustrated edition of Equus!) Given his background it’s hardly surprising that this friend… pictured above… is a marvellous photographer, nor that he has now turned his eye to matters of design. After all, since birth been he’s been surrounded by art of the highest order. It’s in his genes.

You can see his intriguing new website HERE.

the maverick hen, the crazy ewe and the stalking cows!

While Dave Bonta was here for the Retrospective opening, we rose early one morning and had an hour on the hills behind Ty Isaf before descending to the valley and back home along the river path. All the while he recorded our conversation and the encounters we had on our way with neighbours and wildlife. Dave has the born documentary-maker’s skill to put this interviewee at ease, asking all the right questions and eliciting candid responses. I quite forgot that he was recording.  Back home at Plummer’s Hollow Pennsylvania he edited the piece into two episodes and posted them on his blog. Here with his permission are links to the podcasts. I think he effortlessly caught the mood and spirit of the day. (The sharp-eyed among you may notice that it’s not Jack in the photograph above, but his mother Daisy.)

Dave’s Podcast 1

Dave’s Podcast 2

paul bommer and the negative space

Illustrator Paul Bommer and his partner Nick Appleton, an animator, gamely undertook the long rail journey to Aberystwyth for my exhibition opening. With all the guest rooms at Ty Isaf taken, Paul and Nick went to lodge with our friend Pip Koppel at Cwmerfyn. They are a splendid pair, elegantly sartorial and hugely entertaining company, bubbling with enthusiasm and joie de vivre. I loved having them here and I miss them dreadfully now they are back in London. Nick brought a gift of delicious home-made Seville orange marmalade, and Paul a magnificent silk screen print that I’m hugely pleased to have. It’s an endlessly fascinating piece of work, not least because it illustrates that Paul is just as obsessed with negative space as I am. The tattoos seething over the figure’s torso and arms are wonderfully diverse, and the way they jigsaw together is fantastically inventive. Mythic beasts swarm, minotaurs and cockatrices and unicorns and basilisks. Caparisoned elephants, alligators and cephalopoda jostle arachnids, harpies and wyverns.  (That’s definitely my kind of tattoo! Here’s an artist after my own heart!)  I don’t think that I shall ever tire of enjoying Paul’s pictorial inventions in this gorgeous image. Click on it for the treat of a magnified version. (Bravo Paul. You are the biz!) You can see more of Paul’s work if you click on the link to his site in the blogroll at right. You can also read more about him and his work on THIS captivating site.

the friends gather (continued)

Un-noticed by most, Megan Edwards quietly moved among the guests last Sunday, taking photographs that would shame many professionals. This girl has an artist’s eye. My thanks to her for allowing her work to be posted here.

Megan Edwards, photographer.

Richard Edwards, television producer.

Jane’s wonderful cakes.

Daisy, Jack’s mother. A frequent visitor here.

Wendy Lawrence, ceramist.

Two of the contributing authors to the monograph. Anita Mills wrote the chapter on drawing, and Monserrat Prat wrote about the Mari Lwyd series.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins, painter.

David Rouse, classical guitar maker.

Montserrat Prat and Enza Burgio.

Alba Edwards.

 Philippa and Dave Robbins with my brother-in-law Martin Wakelin.

William Gibbs and Peter Wakelin.

Megan photographed by her brother Rhys.

Poppies flaming.

Ty Isaf.

My brother-in-law Andrew Wakelin, who designed both the books, and Rex Harley, who contributed chapters to the monograph on still-life and my work with the Old Stile Press.

Rhys Edwards with his sister Alba.

Paul Bommer, illustrator, and Nick Appleton, animator.

Martin Tinney, art dealer.

Pip Koppel, ceramist, Rosemary Burton, painter, Bob Meyrick, Head of the University of Aberystwyth School of Art and Charles Burton, painter.

Nick and Paul.

Paul, Richard and Nick.

I love brushes of all sorts, especially when they’re beautiful enough to be left out where they’ll be needed most. (Nothing made me happier than when I ripped out all the fitted-carpets our predecessor had left at Ty Isaf!)

Mary Husted, artist, and Marly Youmans, writer and poet. Marly contributed the chapter on the ‘miraculous’ to the monograph.

My sisters-in-law Sally Wakelin and Christine Townley Wakelin. Sally is a jewellery maker and web designer, and she designed both my website and the website of Grey Mare Press.

Francesca Rhyddech and Damian Walford Davies. Damian contributed the chapter on poetry to the monograph.

Pip Koppel.

Eleanor and Judith, who kept things running smoothly in the kitchen.

The sitting-room.

Meri Wells and Carys Green.

Anita Mills and Damian Walford Davies.

Marly and Richard.