August 13th, 2020
Under normal circumstances, at this time of year I would be preparing to deliver drawing/painting workshops for the South Wales arts organisation Criw Celf’s summer school programme. This year, as everything moves online, Criw Celf and everyone involved is doing things a bit differently.
Working with Ballet Cymru dancers Beth Meadway and Andrea Battaggia, we’ve created an online drawing workshop based on techniques I’ve developed with the company, enabling participants to draw the dancers remotely. Beth and Andrea recorded themselves performing two passages of dance – one classical and one contemporary – both performed very slowly, with pauses, and each filmed from three different angles. Playing the videos back, the artists will be able to pause the choreography wherever they wish, freezing the dancers in poses they would like to draw for as long at they need.
To demonstrate some of the techniques I use with regards to sketching out compositions, measuring proportion, developing tonality, and so on, I then had the curious experience of filming myself drawing three pictures from the footage, giving a commentary and explanations as I went along. One of these films will feature in the workshop, though time-lapse versions of all three can be seen on my social media pages – for example, on Instagram:
All are made with charcoal on sugar paper, and broadly present my approach with this kind of drawing (though perhaps in a slightly more deliberate, less spontaneous fashion, as I was thinking more consciously throughout the process in order to discuss it). I used to draw a good deal in museums, archeological sites, public squares and so on, and this exercise definitely took me back to the experience of being watched over my shoulder as I worked, jogging memories of sculpture and architecture I have studied, and long-ago conversations with passing onlookers.
The workshop will also include a PDF setting out drawing tips and discussing some of the key points I think about as I work, which I hope may be of use to participants.
Criw Celf’s Summer School begins on August 17th. It’s designed for ten to nineteen-year-olds, though is accessible to anyone who would like to take participate. There is no fee, though donations are welcome.
For details of our workshop – and the ten others in the programme – please see here
For further information about the work of Criw Celf, please see here
Cymhorthdal Cronfa Ymsefydlogi Cyngor Celfeddydau Cymru / Arts Council of Wales Stabilisation Fund grant
July 19th, 2020
Please scroll down for English text
Gorffenaf 19, 2020
Ddiolchar ofnadwy (ac yn hynnod o falch) fod Cyngor Celfeddydau Cymru drwy Gronfa Loteri Cenedlaethol wedi fy ddyfarnuwyd a cymorthdal Cronfa Ymsefydlogi.
Gyda’r pandemig Coronafeirws yn creu adflonyddwch ag ansicrwydd ar draws byd y celfeddydau, mae’n hanfodol i lawer o artistiaid ailystyried arferion gwaith ac, lle mae’n bosib addasu i newid amgylchiadau a paratoi i’r dyfodol. Sefydlwyd y Gronfa Ymsefydlogi i gefnogi sefydliadau a unigolion drwy’r broses hwn.
Drwy weithio gyda Ballet Cymru rwyf yn hynnod o ffodus cael cefnogaeth gan y sefydiad ar dawnswyr, trwy eu positifrwydd a dyfeisgarwch maent yn galluogi i mi gynnal fy swydd fel arlynudd preswyl, hyd yn oed pan fod llawer o’r rhaglen 2020 wedi’w atal ac fod gweithgareddau arall wedi newid yn sylweddol. Yn y blynyddoedd diwethaf rwyf wedi creu lluniau sydd yn ymateb i ymarferion cwmni a perfformiadau, yn ogystal a gwaith wedi’w ddatblygu drwy gydweithrediad uniongyrchol gyda unigolion neu grwpiau bach o ddawnswyr, nawr gan fod dim ymarferion nag perfformiadau yn digwydd a gyda’r dawnswyr gartref – yng Nghymru ac ymhellach i ffwrdd – rwyf wedi gorfod ailassesu natur fy ngwaith yn llwyr. Dwi’n hapus i ddeud, drwy drafodaethau ac arbrofion gyda dawnswyr presennol a cyn-ddawnswyr Ballet Cymru mae syniadau diddorol iawn wedi’w ymddangos.
Dros y misoedd i ddod, bydd cymorth Cyngor Celfeddydau Cymru yn galluogi i mi archwylio dulliau newydd i gydweithio gyda’r dawnswyr, i adeiladu yn uniongyrchol ar fy ngwaith or gorffenol, ond nawr yn symud i mewn i ‘ofodau rhithwir’ drwy Zoom a cyfryngau digidol, fydd y dawswyr yn medry gwithio ynghyd o bell. Fy ngobaith yw fydd y llyniau fyddwn ni yn ei greu yn adlewyrchu ac yn ymateb i’r amgylchiadau rhyfeddol rydem ni i gyd yn byw drwy – yn arbennig y ffenomen chwilfrydig o fobol yn dod ynghyd gan rhannu profiad o fod ar wahân, rwyf yn teimlo sydd yn thema ddiddorol i’w archwylio – drwy ddathlu naws a creadigrwydd y dawnswyr eu hunain, fel mae nw’n rhannu ac yn datblygu syniadau, ac yn gwithio ar eu coreograffeg eu hynnain.
Fydd y cymorthdal hefyd yn galluogi i mi weithio eto gyda Alastair Sill o Word of Mouth, i ailymweld a gweithgareddau a’i datblygwyd flwyddyn diwethaf i gymorth ymgysylltiad y dall a rhannol ddall gyda’r celfeddydau weledol, sydd yn gyffroes iawn i mi.
Diolch y fawr i Cyngor Celfeddydau Cymru, Ballet Cymru, ac y dawnswyr i gyd sydd yn cynorthwyo gyda’r gwith. Fydd y wybodaeth ddiweddaraf yn cael ei bostio yma a drwy cyfrifion cyfryngau digidol. Synniadau, adborth, safbwyntiau ac y y blaen yn groeso.
Very grateful (and relieved) to have been awarded a Stabilisation Fund grant through the Arts Council of Wales’s National Lottery Fund.
With the Covid-19 pandemic creating such acute disruption and uncertainty across the arts, it has been essential for many artists to reconsider their working practices and, as far as is possible, adapt to changing circumstances and prepare for the future. The Stabilisation Fund was established to support organisations and individuals through this process.
Working with Ballet Cymru I’m extremely fortunate to have the support of an organisation and dancers whose positivity and resourcefulness is enabling me to maintain my role as artist in residence, even as much of their planned 2020 programme is suspended and other activities significantly changed. For the past few years I have created pictures which respond to company rehearsals and performances, as well as pieces developed through more direct collaboration with individuals or small groups of dancers, though with no rehearsals or performances now taking place, and dancers mostly at home – both in Wales and further afield – I’ve had to completely reassess the nature of my work. Happily, through discussions and experiments with current and past Ballet Cymru dancers, some very interesting ideas have begun to emerge.
Over the coming months, Arts Council of Wales funding will enable me to explore new approaches to collaborating with dancers, building directly on my past work, though now moving into ‘virtual spaces’, via Zoom and other digital media, through which dancers may work together remotely. My hope is that the pictures we make will reflect and respond to the extraordinary circumstances we are all living through – particularly the curious phenomenon of people being brought together by the shared experience of being kept apart, which I feel is a fascinating theme to explore – though also celebrate the spirit and creativity of the dancers themselves, as they share and develop ideas, and work to their own choreography.
Funding will also enable me to work again with Alistair Sill of Word of Mouth, revisiting activities developed last year to support blind and partially-sighted people’s engagement with visual art, which I’m very excited about.
Many thanks to Arts Council of Wales, Ballet Cymru, and to all the dancers supporting this work. Updates will be posted here and through my social media accounts. Thoughts, feedback, criticism, etc, very welcome.
July 9th, 2020
Very happy to support the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art’s forthcoming fundraiser, which will launch on July 18th.
The RCA is Wales’s membership body for painters, sculptors, printmakers and architects, and under normal circumstances hosts a wide variety of exhibitions, lectures, concerts, and other cultural/education events throughout the year – all of which are currently suspended.
Works by Academy members will be auctioned anonymously, with the identities of artists revealed at the conclusion of the event. I’ll be contributing a small oil painting.
For further information about the RCA and future announcements about the fundraiser, please see here.
July 19th. Auction now live, ending August 8th at 2pm. Please see here.
June 17th, 2020
These little drawings of Erin and Joe (Ballet Cymru rehearsal 219 and 220) were made for the Art on a Postcard project being run by the Josef Herman Art Foundation in aid of the mental health organisation Mind. Many artists will be contributing pieces – drawings, poems, paintings, collages, or whatever else can be presented on an A6/A5 card – and all will be distributed by lottery for £25 (or whatever donation) a pop.
I worked closely with Mind on a number of projects during my earlier career in the UK homelessness sector, and I’m very happy to support the organisation now. They do tremendous work, which has never been more important than it is at this time.
For information about Mind and Mind Cymru – including links for accessing support or making donations – please see here.
June 3rd, 2020
Revisiting earlier source material, for the first month or so of lockdown I continued to paint and draw, though before long realised my attention was often elsewhere and I was struggling to focus. I made a few pictures I was happy with, but – like everyone – was finding the unfolding situation difficult to adjust to, and after a while realised I needed a break from the studio.
Now (after five weeks of DIY misadventures), I’m happy to be getting back to work and hope to manage things a little better.
As well as returning to the unfinished canvases I found waiting in the studio, I’m very excited to be talking to self-isolating dancers about ways in which we might collaborate remotely, and perhaps find new ways to create pictures together. It’s been uplifting to see the innovations of so many other artists – including Ballet Cymru, with their regular videos and livestreams – as they’ve adapted their practices in response to the restrictions and uncertainties affecting us all, and I’m finding a lot of inspiration in that.
Future exhibitions are all necessarily up in the air. Front of Bicycle was unable to go ahead with its spring show in Basel, and the Albany Gallery and Ffin y Parc Gallery remain closed to visitors (though both are very active online). Other shows previously in the pipeline for later in the year are now uncertain, though I shall update when I can.
That said, I hope everyone is well and keeping safe, and finding their ways through this extraordinary time. I’ll be posting new pictures fairly soon, I expect, and, as always, will welcome any comments.