Friday, 1 July 2022


 This is he who comes after me and he was preferred in honor before me; he whose sandal strap I am unworthy to loose.... John 1:27


The other weekend my dear friend, the artist Peter Spens and his fab wife, Jo, came to spend a few days down here in Laugharne. 



  We billeted them at the excellent Strand  House B&B, a grand house on the foreshore.


   I was expecting to happily ferry Peter all over Carms and Pembs enabling us to draw, paint and talk. 

Instead, most of the time we were right here on the foreshore, drawing and painting the ever-changing estuary waters and sky.



I have sat at Peter’s feet for some twelve years now; lucky enough to do print making alongside him in his London studio part of the Cranley Gallery.


Across the weekend I rediscovered the joys of purposeful, unhurried drawing. Work to collect ideas for painting.  And discovered a new oil painting palette, a set of colours which yielded a different, exciting outcome for me.



We did leave Laugharne to go to Manobier in Pembrokeshire to see Peter’s art college chum, the sculptor Bob Booth. Bob, full of beans and ideas, his workshops chocker with all manner of tools and machines. Coffee and cake in his wife’s wonderful garden.


A weekend fully powered by conversations and creativity.


Wednesday, 22 June 2022


Cardiff’s vibrant contemporary art scene enjoyed a turbo-boost last Thursday with the opening of THRESHOLD, a show at the Print Market Project  41a Market Street, Cardiff. An exciting five-man exhibition full of variety and vitality.

 Threshold runs until 26th June, Thurs - Sat 11- 6 Sun 11 – 4  At 41a Market Road, 

Cardiff CF5 1QE


Artists Charlie Celf, Sally Green, Lynn Edwards, Katie Fiszman and Harriet Williams display highly individualistic approaches. Work that is influenced by the eccentricities of life, or poetry and Italian street art, emotive installations, the countryside and coast. 

Five to watch: Celf, Green, Fiszman
(with Pete Williams) Williams and Edwards


 Surprisingly that they are, all five, transitioning into their final year at (lucky) Carmarthen School of Art’s Fine Art department. 

‘The idea is to show our work at an important turning point in our lives’ 

states the show’s blurb.


 Under the guidance and support of master printmaker Pete Williams (who runs and owns) The Print Market Project, the five conceived, produced, promoted and hosted this significant show. 


 In evidence much energy, focus and experience in, dare I say it, five so young.

Celf, Green, Edwards, Fiszman and Williams. Look out for these names next year and beyond.


The Print Market Project story is here

Saturday, 18 June 2022


 The Quartet


I have long adored the string quartet . 


“For the string player the quartet it is the purest compositional form” 

according to my dear friend Jonathan Evans Jones who has been a violinist since the age of ten and is still very active professionally.


Last week we enjoyed on of our  semi-regular phone catchups. He always ends our conversations by asking if I want for any listening recommendations or have questions. I mentioned how I enjoyed the Škampa Quartet playing Beethoven and Borodin Live from the Wigmore earlier in the week. Adding, with my usual gaucheness, an observation, that within the quartet a tune gets passed around from player to player. 


Jonathan agreed, He spoke of  answering the of phrases adding that this form of composition provides for “a classic distribution of voices” -  two violins, are the upper voices, viola the middle range  and cello providing the bass. 

A good example being Mozart’s String Quartet No. 21 in D major (known as the Prussian No1).


In the quartet listening is as important as playing, to really attend on voice that has gone immediately before.


There is so much to explore in this genre. Hyden, Beethoven, Mozart have all contributed so much. Latterly Debussy, Revel, Janacek, closer to home Messer’s Tippet and Britten. To explore more modern works head over to the website Classical Music Only for a wide-ranging list of suggestions.



In preparing the piece I discovered the wonderful Enso Quartet. A US East Coast quartet that have several recordings out on Naxos. Well worth checking out too.ō_String_Quartet

Saturday, 28 May 2022

TAKE STOCK: Year 1 at Carmarthen School of Art

28 May 2022

Well its nearly the end of this year on the BA Fine Art Carmarthen School of Art. Results and grades next week.

We handed our work in on April 25 and get our results and feedback week of June 6. The Final Year (3rd Year's) Show is open and the PV was yesterday evening. Great to see all that work on display and think about it.

High spots this term have been two programs of tutorials. 

The first was on oil-based processes (oil painting in common parlance) with tutor Rhodri Rees 

>> Instagram 

We covered some really strong foundations of solid oil painting work. I have been oil painting for a number of years however I learnt a huge amount under his guidance and encouragement. You can spot an inspiring tutor, clear direction, no nonsense and a light touch.

 Second stream of work that stands out sessions are in print making with Pete Williams 

>> Instagram

A wide-ranging program across the 10 weeks, mono print, etching, screen printing and wood cut. The latter two completely new areas for me. Again first-class teaching and someone else from whom you can learn so much. Pete has his own studio in Cardiff and has been involved in programs and projects in the US and Far East.


We are so lucky to have access to this quality of teaching talent and generosity.


A few pieces from this semester  below.

Limbering up   Oil on Paper 42 x 30 cm

Self Portrait  Oil on Card 14 x 10 cm

Red Dress 5 minute pose  Oil on Paper 14 x 21 cm

The road to Llan y bri   Oil Pastel over Acrylic 40 x 60 cm

Fields above Laugharne   Woodcut  40 x 80 cm

Heron on the estuary   Etching 14 x 10 cm

'The rhymer in the long tonged room'..  Screen print 40 x 30 cm

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

A RIGHT LEMON? The label dilemma

The other day in the Post Office having paid a heart-stopping 95p for a First Class stamp I was pacified by the opportunity to buy a pair of lemons. 


One lemon had a small label/sticker on it the other did not. This set me thinking (I probably have better things to do, but you know). My line of thought was who makes the decision to append fruit labels? Does every lemon, avocado, orange and banana start off with a lemon and some poor fruit loose them in transit?  Or do the producers or shippers have some label protocols? Label some fruit and not others? How is the decision made?


Are produce stickers biodegradable? A question in an article on the EcoEnclose blog?

‘Currently, the vast majority of produce stickers are still NOT biodegradable.


The use of plastic as part of the sticker facestock* is functionally important because it means the stickers can better withstand water, sprays, transit, and packaging as it moves from the producer to the shipper to the retailer. But the use of vinyl and other thin plastic films means these stickers do not compost or biodegrade, and you should remove the sticker before composting’.

My personal label from Spain 


And do these innocuous looking small labels constitute a health hazard? 

Will Dunn editor of New Statesman's regular policy supplement Spotlight, writing in Delicious Magazine tells of a friend’s mishap.

‘I know a friend of a friend who ate an apple without checking whether it had a sticker on it. The next day he found his stool incorrectly labelled as a granny smith. If this incident alone doesn’t forever turn you against fruit stickers, I don’t know what will.’


Will has a point. Should Granny Smith be capitalised?


* Facestock is the material that holds ink on one side and adhesive on the other, making it the core of any label construction. Just as there are a variety of label adhesives, facestocks come in a range of materials. 

Paper or Synthetic? A guide to Label Facestock | Dasco › Blog

Saturday, 21 May 2022

PSEUD’S CORNER* : Am I nearly there yet?

Living by an estuary and seeing its mood change is a superb surprise each day as I walk to my studio.


Infinity Books were running a competition:

 ‘Every year, ‘Love the Words’ (a quote from Dylan Thomas) asks for contributions to its annual poetry competition as part of International Dylan Thomas Day, 14 May. This year, writers around the world were asked to pen a poem on the theme of ‘water’, inspired by Dylan’s name – which means ‘son of the sea’


I was keen to contribute inspired by my daily walk.




Each day change; rise and fall,

Constant, the stalking heron and ballyragging gull.

Bleakest grey or incredible blue, above tawny shifting sands,

fashioning a new passage every day.


Salt mingles with fresh water,

Both anoint the green marsh,

Slop against the desultory keel

Middle distant white farms punctuate impossible green.


Across to Black Scar, 

No two days the same,

The ferry now forgotten.

Its shelter seen not sought,

Blessed are we who stand and pray by the flood.


 Full details of the competition and to download this year's Love the Words book 

View and Download


Laugharne Estuary   Sumi ink on Hosho paper    45 x 1800 cm


*Pseuds Corner

Listing pretentious, pseudo-intellectual quotations from the media. At various times different columnists have been frequent entrants, with varied reactions. In the 1970s, Pamela Vandyke Price, a Sunday Times wine columnist, wrote to the magazine complaining that "every time I describe a wine as anything other than red or white, dry or wet, I wind up in Pseud's Corner". The column now often includes a sub-section called Pseuds Corporate, which prints unnecessarily prolix extracts from corporate press releases and statements.  

Saturday, 7 May 2022


In the narrow lanes high above Pendine Sands there is much wild garlic this year. This perennial delight, also known as cow’s leek is the wild cousin of onion and garlic. Records of its consumption go back 1500 years with the Celtic Britons enjoying it. It is also a favourite of brown bears and wild boar.


Aside from its culinary applications in salads, as a vegetable, in soups and sauces it is also a good aid for cardiovascular and digestive ailments.


Do be careful that you are not picking lily-of-the-valley by accident, it does look similar, lily-of-the-valley is poisonous. To be sure grind a couple of leaves between your thumb and forefinger and you should get that delicious garlic aroma if you have the right stuff.


Locations of wild garlic in parts England are a closely guarded secret. A friend of mine who has just moved to near Arundel in Sussex told me that the locals were less than keen to tell of where to find wild garlic in the local woodlands. Sussex silence?


About 200 g of garlic wild garlic leaves and 300 mL of good quality olive oil and 100 g of pine nut kernels salt and pepper to taste will make you a superb pesto sauce. That you can keep the whizzed-up sauce in a Kilner jar in the fridge, ready for some fresh pasta.


Do go to it for wild garlic!

Wednesday, 4 May 2022


‘Britain’s towns and cities do not usually sit cheek by jowl with its countryside, as we often casually assume. Between urban and rural stands a kind of landscape quite different from either. Often vast in area, though hardly noticed, it is characterised by rubbish tips and warehouses, superstores and derelict industrial plant, office parks and gypsy encampments, golf courses, allotments and fragmented, frequently scruffy, farmland.’

Marion Shoard* writing in The Land, 21 — 2017


Five favourites of mine around here, discovered during the course of a college project: 


The Wynnstay Factory Llysonnen Mill,

It squats on the landscape like some Central European nuclear processing plant. Its three silos hug the main body of this concrete lovely. Situated at the end of lane in broad fields.


Cille fwr Industrial Estate

Much to see here, industrial units for the usual suspects: Howdens, Wix, Screwfix. Yards full of containers briming with scrap metal and colourful small units (see below)  in the Post-Modern style given over to Prize Fighting Gyms and Schools of Ballet.



Saint David’s Park.

Late Victorian Gothic with modern appendages. 

Most of the buildings now house NHS ambiguous medical specialists, others remain empty, dilapidated. Grade II listed chapel. Built by the inmates sadly closed now. Inmates because this was a hospital as County Asylum build in 1865, closed in 2000 after reports of bad management. 



BT Building Carmarthen

Every town has its impossibly large BT Telephone Exchange. Most of the space in each of these is not used. All the technology these buildings used to house is now on the size of a thumb-sized computer chip. The style here is ‘Brutalism’ with panache at its most exquisite, including Venetian-style balconies wedged into it at the very top.



Glangwili Hospital 

Its  back yards and building entrances have two mood, two faces:

1. Weekdays it’s busy, busy with curious displays of unwanted office equipment shunted into the car parks or waiting patiently for a nice skip to pass.

2. One  weekend I had occasion to visit. The sun was high, no cars, a deserted air, the buildings (built 1949 mostly) were glistening in the heat, I was reminded of Santa Monica CA.



Beguiling places one and all. Perhaps the last words from Jonathan Meades

“Everything is fantastical if you stare at it long enough, everything is interesting. There is no such thing as a boring place.”

From the Introduction to his book Museum without Walls, writings and scripts.


*Marion Shoard is a British writer and campaigner. She is best known for her work concerning access to the countryside and land use conflicts. In 2002 she became the first person to give a name to the "edgelands" between town and country.

Friday, 29 April 2022


One of my briefs at Art School this term:

‘Produce a body of work that includes at least one resolved oil painting on prepared board or canvas, or another appropriate surface. The painting must reflect ideas relating to positive and negative and deal with the subject matter of self-portraiture’.


It came to me in a flash, make an icon of me!


My icon
This also provoked some background research. Icons have been an integral part of the Christian tradition since the time of Christ. Accordingly they are said to raise the soul and mind up to the level of the spirit. This is not hard to understand given the impact they make when one  standin an orthodox church in Moscow or examining the wonderful painted churches of Romania. 


Saint Luke created the first icon, one of the Virgin Mary. On being presented with it she is alleged to have said “may the grace of him who was born of me, through me, being imparted to this icon”. 


The Byzantine church encouraged their creation. If you were studying a particular Saint having an Icon of that Saint in front of you was seen as a study aid.


Their creation and development spread across the Western Church. Icons in the Byzantine style were found it all Christian countries. However their importance was eroded with development of Italian Renaissance art in the 15th and 16th centuries. Today they are revered once more, following revivals in the eastern church. Important centres for their creation are Crete, Greece and Serbia. 

Outside a church in Moscow


Icons are small wooden panels usually about a five size so 21 x 50 cm. They are painted using egg tempera on gessothe ground. The combination of these two materials accounts for their longevity, egg tempera is egg yolk mixed with powder colour.


Interestingly the process of creating an icon is called ‘writing’ an icon and those who create are called icon writers. This is because the Greek word for painting and writing is one of the same ‘graphos’.




Fortified Church with Icons Painted on its walls

Sunday, 24 April 2022


 Three shows at No. 6 Albemarle Street, those nice people at the Marlborough Gallery.


The London School – Well Figuratively Speaking

April 12 London

The exhibition Figuration runs until April 29, 2022. All our favourites are here. The sweet man on the front desk characterised this fab show as ‘kinda London School’.


Certainly there a lot to enjoy here. 

Prints and full cream oil portraits by Frank Auerbach, 

expressive etchings by Lucian Freud, 

delicate and precise drawings from Euan Uglow, 

unsettling canvases by Paula Rego characteristic of symbolic tale telling Leon Kossoff’s intimate portraits and 

R.B. Kitaj’s take on the figure.


A deft piece of curation and hanging and well worth a slow browse.

The show runs until the end of the month so you should not miss it.


Louise Bourgeois – Est-ce tu en as essez?

Many have flocked to see the retrospective of her textile works at the Hayward. 

This exhibition is a calmer but nonetheless candid assembly of prints and editions spanning seven decades.

Bourgeois began exploring print making 1930’s and became highly skilled and prolife and experimented with print making throughout her career.

The focus on sculpture from 1950s through to the 90s meant she did not return to printmaking until the 90’s - it became a daily activity re-examining earlier drawings and ideas.

Louise Bourgeois: Pregnant Man

April 12 

Christopher Braham Marlborough Gallery until 29 April 


Also part of Marlborough Gallery now is a captivating show of paintings by an artist who Lucian Freud described as his only true heir. 

Certainly they were both good friends, Bramham’s children sat for Freud. 

Christopher Banham 
Freud encouraged Bramham away from drawing into paint. His landscapes are drawn from Cornwall and the back gardens of south London. Beguiling back yards redolent of Pizzaro and Bonnard. 

A captivating show of paintings by an artist who Lucian Freud described as his ‘only true heir’.


Friday, 22 April 2022


At school we are encouraged to gallery go. It’s more of a treat than a chore. Here are three not to miss shows and run until the end of April.


Jeff Elrod at Max Hetzler

There is always a treat at Max Hetzler, 41 Dover Street. 

American abstract impressionism with a twist. The twist being a beguiling use of tape. The tape masks out areas of linier white areas on these 180 x 160 cm canvases and the rest is acrylic and spray paint.

As the Galerie announces 

This where the parallel planets of digital and paint collide.

Elrod: parallel planets of digital and paint 


Susan Frecon at David Zwirner

Don’t talk, experience, is the message in the Zwirner’s write up about this their eighth solo Frecon show. 


These are big pieces and as you get as close as you can to each one appreciated the magical variations in paint thickness and tonal values. And the constant interplay between motif and scale.

Frecon: interplay between motif and scale


Mahesh Baliga at David Zwirner

A thrilling counterpoint to Frecon imposing colour fields is this collection of Indian delights by Mahesh Baliga. I was transported right back to days and experiences in Bombay and Delhi during my time with the BBC.


These paintings by Baliga are intimate and soulful sometimes there is a loneliness in subject matter and composition. The quotidian is fêted in a jewelled palette of colours. 


The scale of the works, little more than 30 x 30 cm lined up along the wall like school art show underpin the intimacy of these paintings.

Baliga: The quotidian is fêted

More here:)