Carpet Piece

Sometimes, when you don’t have much money, you have to use whatever is lying around for your art. There was a pile of old carpet tiles in the studio when we moved in, so I’ve started working on the back of them. I like that they have already had a life, and some character of their own; it helps me avoid the fear of the stark white canvas and the fear of making mistakes and having to produce something. The carpet tiles don’t care what I do to them, so I feel free to play. They don’t mind if I walk over them with paint on my shoes, or spread glue about and then heat it so it bubbles up. They don’t mind if I peel away their sticky backing to get at the fur underneath and then paint over it for texture. I might try working on the carpet-side next.

Here’s Carpet Piece I that I’ve called ‘Some Kind of Spinning Away’ inspired by a Brian Eno, John Cale song.




Some more carpet tiles beginning their second incarnation as art surfaces.



And just so I don’t forget, here’s some sublime pieces I’ve discovered recently by Dutch artist Walter Rast. His website here.

Image result for primal mark making symbols                 Image result for walter rast artist


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Featured on sculpter Robyn Gordon’s sumptuous blog, here.





Seeds of Change

Cardiff Print Workshop members are making prints in response to the theme of the Chapter Arts Car Bootique, and the Diffusion photography festival, which is Revolution. It was suggested that we do a ‘Homage to the protests of 1968’ (50 years ago next year) using posters from that time as inspiration: simple lino prints in stark black or red.

I struggled to know what to do for this theme, and also with lino cutting which I have only done once or twice. It’s a different way of working – very precise and bold, and it takes a while to work out what you need to leave and what to take away for tone and contrast.  I decided to make something in a folk art style, inspired by both the physical : the joy of growing my own food at my new allotment, and the metaphysical : planting the seeds of new ideas, visions and dreams. After all, every revolution must have started this way.

revolution lino 2

Plant seeds of change

Art and Transformation: Tending the Secret Fire

What do I want to create? I know something wants to be born, but I don’t have many clues yet. Not many signs or tracks to follow. I look at other people’s work. I collect images and ideas that resonate. I collect pieces of wood and tiles and slate from skips. The studio fills up, takes on a lived-in feel. Now there is a space, there is possibility.

Instinct tells me to build layers so that whatever wants to can emerge. I use tile grout and tissues and glue and wax. Build strata. Make texture with glue and material.

Drawn to the mystery of transformation, the artist-alchemist transforms herself during the creative process and achieves new insights through her work.

I apply heat to initiate alchemical transformation. I scratch and scrape, trying to find doorways in, or perhaps to solve the riddle that will open the doors.

At first the work keeps transforming and won’t stop until it is finally destroyed. Keep going. Don’t give up. This is part of the process.

Some days despair crackles at the edges. Doubt seeps in about ever finding the gold.

In a dark place, I read:

– Søren Kierkegaard

I go back. I breathe and pray and try to stay out of the way of the process.

Trust. It will flow better as I start to work consistently.

The Secret Fire. The flame at work in the laboratory of the soul. Alchemists must tend it well if they are to have any hope of transformation. Nothing melts or evaporates or circulates without fire, or desire.

So, one piece at last reaches a point that I can name it, identify it. There is no beginning or end, just a pause as between breathing out and breathing in again.

Maybe, over time, getting closer and closer to what the flame cannot consume – that is where the alchemist’s faith lies.




Where Strange Magic Happens

The studio is where strange magic happens. It’s the conjuring place of new concepts, styles, or forms. Sometimes it even comes to be seen as sacred, a place where visitors become pilgrims to the altar of art.George Philip Lebourdais

The Abacus, a wonderful creative hub in Cardiff that blossomed from artists being allowed to use an empty building in the city, acted as a gallery, event and project space, rehearsal & recording music space and provided a platform for the grassroots creative community of Cardiff. For about a year and a half, there was somewhere to come together to dream and plan and dance and share ideas and dare to allow them to fly. Unfortunately, the space has now reverted back to a soulless corporate concern, but not before important connections were made to carry the energy onwards. One such was between fellow artist G and I who decided to search for a studio to share and create in. It has taken a while, but we have just moved into a small room in which we can each claim a corner to dream and paint, discuss, inspire each other and make a mess without having to clean it up, or pack stuff away. Bliss!

Although it is small, our studio has a large walk in storage cupboard for canvases and all the paraphernalia artists tend to collect. It has the seeds of community, of feeling part of an inclusive place.

Lee Krasner in her studio – Long Island, New York, 1962.

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Joan Miro’s studio

Joan Miro's studio

I always think of my female ancestors at times like this, and how they never had this sort of opportunity. I wonder what they might have left behind had they had the chance. As Brigid Delaney says:

Even if there was time to create, women (who lived a century or more ago) wouldn’t have been able to publish or display what they had made. They had no wealth or power. Everything stood in their way: literacy, time, a room in which to write; people to accept, value and nurture their creative gifts; the class system. The fact that they were born women. Were they artistic? I don’t know. And maybe they didn’t know either. If they were, their creativity probably didn’t stand a chance…

It’s as if the world was a piece of music played for so long only in major chords. Now we have discovered we can play in the minor key and the music is so much better. The texture is different and the sound is richer; there are more songs.

All I know is that my maternal grandmother once played the piano, and after she married she stopped as my grandfather hated music. My paternal grandmother had a breakdown for which the suggested remedy by (the male) doctor was to have another baby.

So I’m dedicating my studio space to them, and all the women who longed to have the space to create in, and weren’t able to. May their work live on through me.

“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.” Georgia O’Keeffe







Collagraph Day

Seven gathered around the tables at Cardiff Print Workshop for a day of creating and printing. In the morning, collages were created from recycled materials, selected for the effect they would produce when inked and printed. From out of the gluing and layering, etching and sharing, scenes and shapes gradually emerged. A hare running through a forest, a sassy pineapple, boats in the mist and a lighthouse, a spider in a web. Blank white boards and shiny silver squares were transformed and transformed again as they were inked and run through the press.

Sian’s tetrapak plate and resulting prints, using parcel tape for lighter tones, sandpaper for textured bird and fence, and added plant material.

Witnessing other people’s creative work from conception to completion is as satisfying as doing my own work. Time dissolves as all are absorbed in the flow that comes with focusing on common creative goals.

A selection of prints from the day: Stevo’s bird, Sian’s pineapple, Jane’s flower, Mary’s spider and Karen’s hare.

Through the Paper Window

Lea Sautin, who is also a member of Cardiff Print Workshop, has an upcoming exhibition at Theatre Mwldan in Aberteifi, Ceredigion. Lea’s work explores the themes of language, translation and perpetual transformation within the storytelling tradition of Wales. She is fascinated by the evolution of the ancient tales of the Mabinogion, from their fluid oral and performative origins to a fixed written manuscript, eventually leading to illustrations of the tales told in their own unique visual language. Lea uses a chain of processes (print to sculpture to photography) to reflect the evolution and alteration of the stories themselves.

I’m looking forward to seeing Lea’s exhibition, which opens 29th April until 18th June.


Lea Sautin’s sculptures