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.