Alchemy and Healing

Catherine Lewis has taken over the gallery 1a Inverness Place,  an empty shop, as part of her wellspace residency.

Cat works with materials that she gathers from her local environment  –  natural, local plant materials, and uses sustainable print processes and recycled cloths.

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Catherine had collected water and wood from a nearby healing well site, and was using it as part of the residency, encouraging visitors to draw and write using her wonderful inks made from walnuts, beetroot, hibiscous, turmeric.

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The spring, which still exists at The Oval and which was the principal reason for the arrival of St. Isan in the area in 535AD, is known as Ffynnon Llandennis. Ffynnon Llandennis is one of a number of healing springs in Cardiff which were considered to be holy and endowed with powers of healing…

‘It rises out of the soil with great force, and immediately forms a pool of considerable size, which is overhung with trees, and teems with aquatic growths of various kinds. The scene is one of wild and romantic beauty…’ (John Hobson Mathews, 19C city archivist).

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The well-tree dressing has echoes of the clootie well tradition, which are places of pilgrimage in Celtic areas. Strips of white cloth or rags are tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual.

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Catherine has created a well-ness space for slow making and recovery; a space that houses her urban ink making lab, using the well water and materials found whilst walking between the well sites and the gallery. She invites visitors to bring ink ingredients to her and also donations of old bottles to store ingredients and finished inks.

 

 

 

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New Studio Space

For a few years, when the Kings Road Artists have had open studio days, I have visited, and always come away thinking how wonderful it would be to have a permanent space in a building dedicated to working artists. I was warned that spaces were much in demand and hardly ever became available, so I was more than ecstatic last week when I found out that a space had been allocated to me.

The studios were established in 1986, and the courtyard in which they are located has developed into an exciting space to hang out, with coffee,  fresh bread, martial arts, and not forgetting Pipes Artisan Beer. There is also a farmer’s market every Saturday and regular craft and vintage markets, so I will have to be disciplined!

I think this is an important stage in my journey as an artist, as I can at last begin to properly develop my work. It feels like being able to breathe now that I have enough space to store my materials and to experiment without the inhibition of having to clean up after each session.

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My new studio.

For  now, I’m continuing with my textured pieces on reappropriated materials that have already ‘lived’ in a different form, building layers and scraping back to create a constant tension between destruction and creation.

 

Creative Practitioner Project

I’m very excited to have been chosen to work as a creative practitioner in a local primary school as part of the Lead Creative Schools Scheme, an extensive five-year plan to embed the arts and creativity into the Welsh curriculum.

I and a fellow practitioner, Lowri will be working with a group of about twelve Year 2 learners to create a storytelling and outdoor art project, taking inspiration from the rich local history of the area surrounding the school.  The artwork created in response to the stories will be installed in a small wooded area in the extensive school grounds. 

Lowri, who grew up in the local area, and whose first language is Welsh, told us about the Tŷ unnos (one night house), an old Welsh tradition that claims if a person could build a house on common land in one night with a fire burning in the hearth by the following morning, the land then belonged to them as a freehold. The squatter could then extend the land around by the distance they could throw an axe from the four corners of the house. Old axe and spear heads were discovered in the back gardens of local houses, and as they can now be viewed in the National Museum in Cardiff, we considered taking the children on a field trip to inspire them for their stories and artwork.

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One aspect of the artwork will involve making prints from the children’s stories – both monoprint and cyanotype – onto material which will be hung as an installation in the wooded area. Clay and willow may also be used to create structures and sculptures…who knows how things will develop and grow as the children become immersed in the tales…I’II be posting regular updates as the project unfolds.