Sunday 19 September 2021


One of the wonderful places about any School of Art is the print room. And the print room at Carmarthen School of Art is no different. It is stocked with some remarkable pieces of equipment some of which are quite ancient but still working well. Experts coming from time to time to adjust and tune press rather like a piano tuner!

A thing of beauty....


And on the Access Course we get to work in here EVERYWEEK. This is paradise, taking me back to three intensive years of monoprint 2010 – 2013 working with the late Christine Lock in Marlow.


Among Carmarthen’s print room treasures are two Albion presses.


The Albion press is a model of early iron hand printing press, originally designed and manufactured in London by Richard Whittaker Cope around 1820.


Albions continued to be manufactured until the 1930s. They were used for commercial book-printing until the middle of the nineteenth century, and thereafter chiefly for proofing, jobbing work and by private presses.


After Cope's death, Albions were manufactured by his heirs and members of the Hopkinson family trading initially as 'Jonathan and Jeremiah Barrett' and later as 'Hopkinson and Cope', who are said to have improved the design. From the 1850s onwards Albion presses were manufactured under licence by other firms, notably Harrild & Sons, Miller and Richard, and Frederick Ullmer Ltd. a joy forever


Their distinctive shapes are aesthetically beguiling, quite lovely and their finial tops and crowns are an absolute delight. The embellishments, casting and design breath-taking.


Pressed for time? Discover more about printing presses here

Friday 17 September 2021

JENGA JENGA: Acting against 'anonymity and repetitiveness'

56 Leonard New York is also known as the Jenga Tower. It is another exciting example of affordable housing, overlooking the Hudson River. Eight hundred and twenty-one feet (250 m) tall, its 57 stories are served by 10 elevators.


The building in this drawing is from a photograph by PJ Lehrer’ looks like a teetering tower of perspex boxes.


Further investigation shows it was designed by my favourite Swiss firm of architects, Hezog + Meuron. Their considered description for the building is found here.


From which this lively narrative is taken:

‘Together these different strategies – considering the tower from the inside-out, responding to local scales, and maximizing the potential of local construction systems – produce a building where only five out of the 145 apartments are repeated. Furthermore, no two floor plates are the same, giving those who will live in this project their own unique home characterized by distinct moments of individuality within the overall stack’.


The building’s foundations were laid in 2008 and by the end of 2013 over 90% of the 145 apartment’s were sold. Priced between US$3.5 million and US$50 million. These condo’s range in size from 1,400 to 6,400 square feet (131.7 to 594.6 m2) and include two to five bedrooms. All come with private outdoor spaces.


The building’s back story is nicely introduced in Wikipedia

Tuesday 14 September 2021


'I take this pic often as I approach the city.  It's like looking for the skyline when I come in from the airport or through the tunnel from NJ.  I like knowing that I am almost home. :-)'

PJ Lehrer

From a photograph by P J Lehrer

The Q runs to and from 96th a ritzy looking new station on the Upper East Side of (Manhattan) and takes you all the way down to Coney Island and its entertainment and beaches.  

from Wikipedia :)–present:_Extensions_to_Astoria_and_Second_Avenue

The tracks cross the East River on the Manhattan Bridge. A service has been running since 1878, The Q service proper started in 1920.


There are plans to take it up to 125 St. in East Harlem giving people here a direct train to the beach within the next five years!

The great notion, reflecting on the Q train and its stops across the city,  is it like being back in New York.

Discover more NYC here

Sunday 12 September 2021


September 6,8 and 10

Oh! I am here. Beginning to finish what I started in 1974.


I am on the Art Access Course at Carmarthen School of Art.

“The Access to Higher Education qualification is a course tailored for adults who wish to return to education. Maybe it is time for a career change or maybe you did not have the chance to go to university due to family commitments.” (‘adults’ their italics)


Access, rather like a Foundation course, the equivalent of doing three ‘A’ Levels in one year. Says the man who left school with six all of GCEs all at grade six.  The program runs for one year, three terms, three days a week.



Here’s our room, say ‘Hi’ to everyone. 

Grab a desk, 

grab a chair, 

find yourself a drawer in one of the Plans Chests. Make sure you label it.


Our tutor throughout this year is Sarah, she is an established practising artist too.


Across the day we get the skinny* on the course, how to be successful, what’s expected.


In the morning also a spirited introductory presentation to us and the Foundation Course group from the Heads of the School, Jamie and Amelia.  All the opportunities, growth, and values of the college are laid before us. Go for it being their key message.


This term, as far as I can figure, we are doing six modules from now until December 17, Ceramics, Textiles, 2D, Drawing, Print Making, and Communication Skills.


Exhausted, at lunchtime I wander into the print making studio. Wow! Loads of presses including two Victorian flights of engineering fancy; Albion presses, early cast iron hand printing press and still going strong. I meet the Head of the department and am determined to spend a lot of time here across the coming weeks.


Cutting out like Matisse; across the afternoon we work with coloured paper, scissors and glue to create art. Moderate success for me and the activity got us all thinking!

Making like Matisse




We are in the life drawing studio (huge) and with a table-top still life set up. We are drawing from about 10:30 through 3:30 This is the activity that makes us strong. Paper, charcoal, pens and paint. We are left to our own devices with Tutor Sarah coming round to encourage and suggest. 

I suspect this a just a gentle warm up to some hard-core drawing instruction just around the corner. The tip of a hard and disciplined iceberg.  


Come 3:45 I walk down the hill (one which is vertical by the way, when I walk up it in the morning) and catch my bus home to Laugharne at 3:55.

The Big Draw

Wednesday: Drawing and Painting




Ceramics introduction from Head of Department Tom Fisher. 


He dances us around this kingdom, showing us his riches, riches that we will, after next week enjoy every Friday morning. 


His message is totally clear: turn up, tune in and hand your assignments in on time and we’ll all be good. Phew.


Like every organisation in the known world, we have an IT ‘platform’ on which we will run our lives here. 

Folks it’s all on Google. So, we have a session learning the digital ropes according to Google. I stray into doing one of the online assessments, politely called ‘Number’ and the results from this throw my childhood struggle with math back into sharp focus.



Facilities and mindset**...

The facilities, studios, the kit and wonderful tutors all in place.

Mindset: have a go, there’s loads of support, the facilities are there to be used. All the lecturers are there to teach and coach – so go stretch.



*Skinny: US, informal.: the true information about someone or something that is not known by most people.


** 'You don't object to our using of the expression 'mindset' do you sir? Mr Hector doesn't care for it. He says if he catches any of us using it he'll kick our arses from bollocks to sundown sir' Alan Bennett – The History Boys.

Saturday 4 September 2021


 July 13 Friday

We cross over into Pembrokeshire, near Neath, specifically to Crunn’s Farm where T&J have chosen to make their home. 




Crunn’s is a lovely old farmhouse with a barn adjacent. The latter goes by the delightful name of Pretty Penny Barn.  They are good neighbours up in the Badlands of Buckinghamshire and have chosen to be our neighbours in West Wales too. 

Crunn's are only about 30 minutes drive away so bound to be lots of adventures across the coming years. By my count the place is blessed by five separate garden areas to the front, back and sides of the property!


And o’ my! 

From the house The Preseli Hills, known locally and historically as the Preseli Mountains, shimmer. And you can look across the eastern Cleddau valley to Llawhaden Castle a fortified Bishop’s Palace.

Early morning from Crunn's looking East


I made it quite clear to the new owners that it is my intention to spend much time here drawing and painting. Come late Autumn when distracting foliage is less evident there will be much to paint!

Thursday 2 September 2021


 July 11 Wednesday 

It was raining when I left the house with Rosie but she needed a walk and so I thought I’d give it a go and go to Pendine. By the time we got there it was really raining. Rosie hates the rain however this hatred was overridden by her love of the beach!  


She was game on so we walked eastwards to the MoD signage. As we reached that point I saw the MoD chap was closing up his observation hut for the day. An hour early by my reckoning and readying his tractor for the trip home.

So much rain, so little time

We’d had enough. I made a quick drawing just to show off. To whom? We turned and the full force of the wind and rain were against us.

Once home Rosie had a full spa treatment in the bath.

Wet Wet Wet

A renown Scottish Rock Band in the 1980' and '90s.

"Shed a Tear" is a song recorded by Wet Wet Wet for their first greatest-hits album, End of Part One. It was released as a single on 25 October 1993 and reached No. 22 in the UK Singles Chart.

Information all gleaned from Wikipedia to whom the author regularly donates. In fact he's been invited to a special Wikipedia gathering on September 22