How did you start out on this path? Did you always know this was what you wanted to be doing?

I had no idea I would end up as an artist, and actually when I was at school wanted to be a meteorologist, though ended up studying linguistic theory at university. I hadn’t studied art at school and started doing art for fun at my local college’s evening classes. It just went from there.

How has your work evolved since you first started making?

Actually I studied ceramics (under- and post-graduate) at art school, so it has changed quite a lot! But even my textiles work has changed dramatically since I started doing it in around 2006. I was just playing around to begin with, as I have no textiles training. The development is organic – I have no definite plan for how it evolves.

How do you approach studio time – get yourself into the right frame of mind for creating/making?   Do you work better at certain times of the day?

I have no particular way of approaching the day’s work, other than getting the coffee on. I can’t concentrate fully on work unless there’s a mug of coffee on the desk! And time of day doesn’t seem to make a difference.

How do you challenge yourself within your work? Do you always see yourself working in this medium?

I find repetition stultifying (though enjoy remaking a handful of characters such as bad bunnies and bees), preferring to embrace change. I’m not naturally a one-medium person, although working with textiles seems quite natural and inspiring, because of its flexibility and potential for variety. My studio, however, is packed with other materials, and bits of projects that are not strictly visual art. Time is the biggest constraint – if there was more time available I would be working in a variety of media. So for the future, who knows.

What would/has been your ideal commission?

I don’t do many commissions, and am not sure what my ideal would be, but I have to say that making the lobster for The Table has been my most fun commission to date!

We know that social media channels such as Instagram play a pivotal role now in giving a platform to artists. To what extent has it benefitted you? Do you think it’s possible for it to ever truly replace a traditional bricks and mortar gallery?

I think these days a mix is needed of different ways of showing and selling work if an artist is to succeed. But seeing work online is no match for looking at the real thing – it’s a completely different experience, and it’s hard to really look properly at a piece of work, or contemplate it fully, in an image, just as looking at a picture in a book is a remove from the real thing. So I don’t think galleries can be replaced. We need to be able to experience works of art directly to fully appreciate them.

Is there a recent exhibition that you have loved so much and encouraged everyone to go see?

The recent exhibition of David Lynch’s visual art at HOME in Manchester was wonderful. I’m a long-time fan of his films and TV, so to see his artwork for real was hugely inspiring. I also found the Alice Kettles exhibition at the Whitworth last year awe-inspiring. An incredible body of work, and very moving.

What does the future hold for you and your work? Do you have any exciting plans for 2020?

I admit I’ve had little time to think about future plans, though would like to try and progress some of the many other projects (not all sewing) that have been started over the last year or so. I think the work will just keep going on and evolving in the organic way it has in the past. I rather like that way of working, not knowing how things will turn out. A definite for 2020 though is that I’ll be at the wonderful Craft Festival in Cheltenham Town Hall in March, for the third time. Very much looking forward to that.

 

 

 

How did you start out on this path? Did you always know this was what you wanted to be doing?

 

Both our backgrounds were very much involved in the creative side of life. (Andy originally a carpenter/Joiner and Karen from a fine art sculpture background.) Working and living together 24/7 has its challenges but we both share a passion for clay and our work evolved organically. Clay is the absolute perfect medium for us – forever learning and of course the very nature of working with clay makes us always humble!

Working and creating with our hands is part and parcel of who we are and neither of us can ever imagine any other life path!

 

How has your work evolved since you first started making?

 

When we first started our creative partnership in clay, over 10 years ago, we gave ourselves a parameter of working in the traditional medium of slipware using red earthenware clay. We have settled into our roles – Andy throwing and Karen illustrating the work using the sgraffito technique, a very time consuming and incredibly satisfying way of drawing. The work has become more adventurous and our approach to it more confident.

 

How do you approach studio time – get yourself into the right frame of mind for creating/making? Do you work better at certain times of the day?

 

To be honest we are always in the right frame of mind to work in the studio (obsessively). We feel fortunate that our studio is in our garden making the commute to work very enjoyable, overlooked by our lovely chatty rescue hens! There are never enough hours in the day and with no internet access in the studio distractions are kept to a minimum.

 

How do you challenge yourself within your work? Do you always see yourself working in this medium?

 

Working in the traditional medium of slipware is a constant challenge – so much can go wrong at every stage! It is with a mixed sense of relief, satisfaction and amazement when a piece turns out well! We are not large production potters but we strive to create original, beautiful and functional pottery. We cannot imagine ever doing anything else than working in the clay process…… quite honestly, we believe we will be doing this for as long as we are physically able!

 

What would/has been your ideal commission?

We had a commission for a large, lidded wedding pot about 8 years ago and we made 3…. just in case! The whole experience was a challenge and after two failed attempts we eventually produced a piece we were happy with. It is a very detailed pot with lots of drawn/sgraffito imagery pertinent to the couple. However, it now sits in our display cabinet due to the couple splitting up not long after their marriage! It is a pot with a story to tell!

 

 

We know that social media channels such as Instagram play a pivotal role now in giving a platform to artists. To what extent has it benefited you?

 

Do you think it’s possible for it to ever truly replace a traditional bricks and mortar gallery?

We would say Instagram has benefitted Adrift Pottery enormously. Through it our audience has exponentially grown worldwide and we send work to far reaching corners. It is a huge source of inspiration and encouragement; the pottery community within it is particularly supportive and that helps immensely when living and working in rural West Wales. However, we do have a love/hate relationship with it; it can simply be too overwhelming at times. Hence the fact we don’t have internet access in the studio!

As for social media replacing a traditional bricks & mortar building…. absolutely not! Ceramics and art both work best when physically seen and if possible touched. It would be a sad world indeed if the gallery environment disappeared.

 

Is there a recent exhibition that you have loved so much and encouraged everyone to go see?

 

We had the privilege to be invited to exhibit at Art at The Hall, Llangathen, Carmarthenshire, twice this year and it was a really well curated show. Both shows had a separate theme and lots of artists working in different mediums were exhibiting. It felt very exciting to be a part of it and in such an amazing venue. We were proud to encourage everyone to go see it; exhibits were grouped together and periodically moved around creating interesting juxtapositions. So many local talented artists, usually hidden away in West Wales, exhibiting together felt exciting and special.

 

What does the future hold for you and your work? Do you have any exciting plans for 2020?

 

Our work is constantly evolving, and we have many new ideas we plan to work through. One especially exciting plan for 2020 is to self-build a wood firing kiln behind our studio. We believe this will develop our work in many different directions and we can’t wait to get the project underway.

 

 

How did you start out on this path? Did you always know this was what you wanted to be doing?

I’ve always loved to paint and draw and have done it in every spare moment since I can remember. My career in food started when I was 25 in a brilliant place called Ultracomida – aside from the enjoyment of the act of cooking itself, it was the feeling of cooking for others that really made me want to do what I do.

How has your work evolved since you first started making?

Most of the art I make fits in around my other work as a free-lance cook, which means that I tend to draw, paint and lino-cut manageable sized pieces. I don’t like to have projects hanging over me for long periods of time. These days I draw and paint edibles much more than anything else, which is a reflection of what I do for a living.

How do you approach studio time – get yourself into the right frame of mind for creating/making?   Do you work better at certain times of the day?

Sadly studio time is very limited – I try to fit in at least one hour a day and often it’s late at night. The dream is to one day set aside a couple of days a week. What I will say is that I find I’m more productive if I have limited time because I really try and make the most of what little I have. When I have set aside whole days to paint I get far less done!

How do you challenge yourself within your work? Do you always see yourself working in this medium?

I try to stretch myself over a few mediums actually – this is a natural way of pushing the boundaries and being outside of my comfort zone – Small courses are a great way of delving into another medium. I went on a short weekend lino course with Ian Phillips and that was the start of my small run lino-cut series.

What would/has been your ideal commission?

I tend not to like commissions so much because there is the pressure of working to someone’s expectations. The best commission I’ve done is a staircase mosaic, where I’d set out the expectations right from the start and there was a clear vision on the end piece.

We know that social media channels such as Instagram play a pivotal role now in giving a platform to artists. To what extent has it benefitted you?

Do you think it’s possible for it to ever truly replace a traditional bricks and mortar gallery?

I think it’s a very important platform and has played a huge role in where I am today. That said, I don’t think it ever will or ever could replace a bricks and mortar gallery. There is something so special about standing up close and personal with a work in the flesh. It’s a feeling you can only get from galleries. Also the energy and buzz of a gallery is half the point for me – I love seeing peoples reactions to works.

 

Is there a recent exhibition that you have loved so much and encouraged everyone to go see?

I recently saw an exhibition by Mark Frith at Kew Gardens. It was a series of large scale graphite drawings of oak trees – I was totally blown away by how majestic they were.

 

What does the future hold for you and your work? Do you have any exciting plans for 2020?

Lots more recipes and lino cuts to come!

How did you start out on this path? Did you always know this was what you wanted to be doing?

I’d always known I wanted to make work but in truth I hadn’t seen myself working with bronze and most certainly not as a ‘founder-sculptor’ with the foundry being so central to my practice. My decision to read History of Art opposed to Fine Art as a degree was actually a consequence of knowing I wanted to make my own work. I wanted to gather as many references and influences as I could, not necessarily limited to the perspective of one schoool of thought or tutor’s preference. Finding a way back to the studio following a very academic course inadvertently led me to working with bronze – a little serendipity.

How has you work evolved since you first started making?

First in the change of medium – moving from painting to three dimensional work and casting. Within that, it’s changed a great deal as I’ve learnt more about the process and the materials I work with. Within my broader practice, the content of my work shifts quite frequently. It’s often tied to what i’m reading or researching project by project. Some projects like my Pomarius studio have grown and gained their own independence as an ongoing craft design series but the work still feeds back into my general practice and the development of new works with a very different aesthetic.

How do you approach studio time – get yourseld into the right frame of mind for creating/ making? Do you work better at certain times of the day?

I try to ensure I get to the studio everyday, even if I only manage a couple of hours. I also try to get some rest time/ space at weekends to read and find areas of interest even if that’s just going for a walk somewhere.

Casting my own work provides a strange tempo because you’re periodically pulling out of the purely creative acts and into more of a technician role to mobilise for a pour or the kiln. But i think that can also allow for some reflection time and builds a frustration or appetite to return and develop a piece or idea left waiting.

How do you challenge yourself within your work? Do you always see yourself working in this medium?

I think bronze and wax (as it’s the latter I feel i really work with) will always be integral to my practice. That said, I’ve shifted before and I can see building upon these materials within my work, adding to as opposed to abandoning this way of working.

What would/ has been your ideal commission?

With Pomarius, i’ve always loved working closely with an individual with a real insight into botany and gardening as there’s so much to learn from them. That and commissions that come from deeply personal stories and relationships with places. Those commissions are always the most rewarding and I find the works are enriched by provenance.

We know that social media channels such as Instagram play a pivotal role now in giving a platform to artists. To what extent has it benefitted you?

                    Do you think its possible for it to ever truly replace a traditional bricks and mortar gallery?

I think artists and curators have been discussing a question like this since the 1930s. There have been various trajectories and new mediums created to explore the experience and reception of artwork, the requirement of physical presence by work and role of audience. I’m always inclined to be a little distrustful of a total denial of our physical being and the particular sensation that comes from being present with an object or in a place. The idea that it can be completely replaced somehow saddens me and feels a little tied up with a techtopian attitude. I think that experience/ reception should be defended where it can.

That said, I have to be careful working in a medium with such conservative connotations not to seem bias against new media. It is great seeing work that you’d otherwise never see or hear through these platfolms and to have your own work seen in the same way.

Is there a recent exhibition that you have loved so much and encouraged everyone to go see?

Unfortunately this show was ages ago but it really stayed with me – Rose Wylie’s exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries was really insightful. I’d love to see Eddie Martinez’s bronzes again too.

What does the future hold for you and your work? Do you have any exciting plans for 2020?

I’m intending to return and exhibit the works I began in Austrailia earlier this year. Myself and my casting /foundry partner, artist Freddy Morris, are hoping to run a participatory bronze casting project with a school out there too. I’m also looking forward to developing relationships with new gardens for Pomarius,

Oriel Myrddin teamed up with NAWR to organise the very first Criw Celf for teachers and what a week it was!

We had 13 incredible individuals join us from various schools and backgrounds who took time out of their summer to join us for 5 intensive days of art workshops hosted by some fantastic local artists.

On Monday we kicked off the week with Mary Sikkel, who worked with our teachers on 3D construction methods, drawing and collage. They created small sculptures from toothpicks and midget gems then larger, geometric cardboard pieces in the afternoon. Our teachers also completed a series of drawing activities to record their work using pen and collage. These techniques and materials link to cross curricular themes in maths, design and technology and recycling.

Tuesday we had a visit to Coleg Sir Gar where lecturers Nia Lewis and Llio James worked with us to explore low tech knit and weave methods. We learnt how to reimagine images into colour blocks with thread and how to use the heat press to fuse plastic materials to form a base for sewn or woven embellishments.

We were treated to a printmaking session with the lovely Alan Williams on Wednesday, who walked us through methods for printing without a press. This included lino, collagraph and mono printing. The results were beautiful and the techniques could be applied to a range of subjects and themes.

Artist Seren Stacey joined us on Thursday to explore drawing in its many forms. Using NAWR’s free resource of ‘see, sense, draw’ as a basis for the activities, our participants worked with different materials to practice a more free and expressive way of using drawing to develop a ‘drawing vocabulary’ and build confidence in 2D media.

To complete our week we hosted an animation session with Bill Taylor Beales from Hushland Creative. To help our teachers meet their digital competency frameworks we used the apps ‘chatterpix’ and ‘stopmotion’ along with iMovie to create fun animated sequences from the seemingly mundane. Much laughter ensued and it was a lovely way to end the week!

We had some incredible feedback from our participants:

‘Everything was fantastic – really high quality training with really lovely people’

‘Animation will be integrated into current projects and used to peer and self-assess – gives pupils a voice and an animated face.’

‘This has been an amazing week – motivating and inspiring. I will use aspects of all workshops in my classroom practice.’

‘Lots of ideas for the classroom and techniques which are simple to do and apply and also cheap!’

‘I will use many of the ideas in my future practice. Very exciting!’

‘Being taught by an expert in a small group away from school demands has been invaluable.’

A huge thank you to all the teachers who participated in this event, I hope you found it useful and are full of ideas for the new term.

Another big thank you to NAWR who have made this possible through their funding and support with technical equipment.

Lastly, a thank you to the artists who led such brilliant sessions and shared their expertise.

I very much hope we will be able to repeat this next year!

 

On 28th June 2019 Sixth Form students from Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn came to Oriel Myrddin to ‘takeover’ my role as Education and Research Officer for the day. Takeover Day is a national event planned by ‘Kids in Museums’ who aim to give young people vital work experience in the cultural sector. They planned and delivered a workshop to students from Years 7 and 8 around the theme of ‘Flying the Flag for Human Rights’ to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Each pair of students was given a ‘right’ to use as a theme for the creation of a flag. They were encouraged to think about ways of making and make choices about materials so that each one was unique. The rights included ‘the right to shelter’, ‘the right to privacy’ and ‘the right to safety.’

The Sixth Formers did a wonderful job at researching the theme, deciding upon materials to offer and delivering the lesson. The final flags will be stitched and displayed by their Art teacher Ms Essex who was also instrumental in helping this project go ahead.

We can’t wait for next year!

A huge thank you to the students from Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn, Ms Essex, the Fly the Flag campaign and Kids in Museums making it happen.

 

Neil Ansell: Deep Country

Thursday 19 September 2019 6 – 7:30pm

Alongside our exhibition Land Acts at Oriel Myrddin Gallery, we will be reading Deep Country: Five years in the Welsh hills by journalist Neil Ansell. The tale of five years spent living alone in a cottage on a remote Welsh hillside.

‘I lived alone in this cottage for five years, summer and winter, with no transport, no phone. This is the story of those five years, where I lived and how I lived. It is the story of what it means to live in a place so remote that you may not see another soul for weeks on end. And it is the story of the hidden places that I came to call my own, and the wild creatures that became my society.’

‘Touching. Through Ansell’s charming and thoroughly detailed stories of run-ins with red kites, curlews, sparrowhawks, jays and ravens, we see him lose himself . . . in the rhythms and rituals of life in the British wilderness’ Financial Times

Extraordinary, magical, so powerful’ Independent

Join us for a friendly and informal discussion led by Kirsten Hinks-Knight.

Free, tea and cake provided, everyone is welcome

As part of Age Cymru’s Gwanwyn Festival Oriel Myrddin Gallery held an outdoor art session exploring nature engagement and connection. Five tenants from extra care scheme Cartref Cynnes in Johnstown joined Emily Laurens Oriel Myrddin Gallery’s Community Art Coordinator, one of Oriel Myrddin Gallery’s volunteers Pam and photographer Heather Birnie for a meditative session on a patch of wild land.

The project has been funded by Gwanwyn and has been inspired by Oriel Myrddin Gallery’s exhibition Forest + Found: Walking the Line  which is showing at the gallery until Saturday 6 July. Artist duo Forest + Found are influenced by their relationship to the land, treading the line between art and craft.

Gwanwyn provides ways for older people to become involved in the arts and creative activities during the month of May. It celebrates the opportunities that older age can bring about, and promotes the benefits of exploring creativity, developing a critical voice and participating fully in the artistic and cultural life of local communities across Wales.

Emily:

“The area of wild land between Cartref Cynnes and Queen Elizabeth High School has a pond with a path around it and some beautiful mature trees. Docks, nettles and buttercups abound and the hedges are laden with May blossom and new leaves. The pond doesn’t hold much water but spikes of bulrush push through the mud. The weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot with a little breeze. We placed ourselves on the edge of the path so that the participants could reach down and pick grasses and flowers.

Slowly participants appeared in the space, unsure of what would be asked of them, but open and willing to try something new and unfamiliar. There were some complaints – one participant grumbled about being outside “This would be much better in the craft room” and there was also the familiar chorus of “I can’t draw” “I can’t do art”.

After a brief round of introductions we dove straight into the first activity. With groups that are feeling unsure and slightly anxious I find it best to get into something active as soon as possible. The whole session was based around exploring nature through the senses and to begin I wanted to bring sound into focus. This was especially valuable to one participant who was partially sighted. When I said we were going to draw with our eyes closed he laughed and said “I think I can do that!”

So with closed eyes and in silence we drew the sounds surrounding us. The warbling trails of blackbird song, the shushing of the wind through the trees, the distant whoops and cries from the school playground. Participants used clipboards and graphite sticks which can be used any way up and are capable of making marks on all their sides and edges. The results were abstract and interesting and a conversation began around sound: the difference between man-made and non-human sounds – stories and laughter shared about the nearby bin lorries beeping at 4am alongside the dawn chorus; and the way the sounds around us seemed to surge and have lulls, even moments of absolute silence, once you tuned into it.

From sound we moved onto visual senses, all the time with an awareness of participants differing abilities. It is easy to get sensory overload in nature, there is so much to look at, so much detail. To counter this we looked through viewfinders, framing images and taking photos with our minds eye – distant vistas, close-ups, and areas of pattern. Despite the simplicity of this exercise participants really enjoyed it, relishing the chance to really look and realising the power of framing an image. We then celebrating the greenery around us making colour swatches by tearing up different leaves and sticking them onto double sided tape, finding gradients amongst the green from dark to light. Again this was an exercise in looking deeply and paying close attention to things our eyes normally skim over.

As we moved onto senses that we engage with less often on a conscious level – smell and touch – the atmosphere changed. Participants relaxed, personal stories of their relationship with nature emerged, and the feel and smell of objects promoted memories. There was a sense of deep, relaxed engagement and concentration and participants seemed less aware of Heather and her camera.

In another eyes closed activity Pam and I handed out natural objects – a rose from my garden, beach pebbles, shells – and participants held and felt the objects saying words that came to them. Gwynedd held a feather and said “Direction, this object is all about direction”. Margaret meditating on a mussel shell said “ferryboat, not perfect, oddity”. Audrey, who had been the most reluctant of our participants at the start of the session pressed a rose to her face, feeling the petals against her cheeks, and said “Baby’s skin, new born baby’s skin”. Then, still cradling the rose, she told us of her long career as a midlife and how much she had loved holding the new babies.

The smell and taste of wild garlic had Audrey telling us of her grandmother who loved nature and took her for walks in meadows teaching her wild flower names and ways to forage for and cook wild foods. Holding a smooth pebble Charlie told us about his childhood in Ferryside, the woods and beaches, and how he had a pet adder for a while which frightened his mother who found it unexpectedly in his bedroom!

We closed the session by taking advantage of the breeze watching petals and seeds blowing away in the wind. Gwynedd shook May blossom petals which settled in her hair like confetti, and Audrey threw her rose petals aloft in a moment of joyful release.”

The exhibition of selected photographs from the session by Heather Birnie will be at The Warren, Mansel Street, Carmarthen until 23 June.

 

Thursday 4 July 2019 6 – 7:30pm

Alongside our exhibition Forest + Found: Walking the Line at Oriel Myrrdin Gallery, we’re delighted that the artists Max Bainbridge and Abigail Booth (Forest + Found) have especially chosen our Book Club selection.

From the bestselling author of Autumn and Winter, as well as the prize-winning How to be both, comes the next installment in the remarkable Seasonal Quartet series.

What unites Katherine Mansfield, Charlie Chaplin, Shakespeare, Rilke, Beethoven, Brexit, the present, the past, the north, the south, the east, the west, a man mourning lost times, a woman trapped in modern times?

Spring. The great connective.

Hope springs eternal.

 

‘Autumn’, ‘Winter’ and ”Spring’ are state of the nation novels which understand that the nation is you, is me, is all of us’  New Statesman

 

‘Her best book yet, a dazzling hymn to hope, uniting the past and the present with a chorus of voices’  The Observer

 

Join us for a friendly and informal discussion led by Kirsten Hinks-Knight.

Free, tea and cake provided, everyone is welcome

Nan Shepherd: The Living Mountain

Thursday 2 May 2019 6 – 7:30pm

Alongside our exhibition Sometimes all you can do is walk at Oriel Myrddin Gallery, we’re delighted that the artist Angela Maddock has especially chosen our Book Club selection.

Written during the 1940’s but unpublished for more than thirty years Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain has been described as a ‘masterpiece of nature writing’.

Describing the author’s journeys into the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland the book details a world of beauty and harshness recording the physical landscape and creatures she encounters in her intense, poetic prose.

“The finest book ever written on nature and landscape in Britain” The Guardian

“Most works of mountain literature are written by men, and most of them focus on the goal of the summit. Nan Shepherd’s aimless, sensual exploration of the Cairngorms is bracingly different” Robert Macfarlane

 

Free, tea and cake provided, everyone is welcome

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