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Inside Wales Millennium Centre

October 25, 2016

Spent a day sketching the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. During lunch managed to get this drawing done in my Moleskine from the café at one end of the centre.

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Sketch in a coffee shop

October 25, 2016

This man caught my eye while I was enjoying a coffee.

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Portrait Commission

October 25, 2016

Here’s a pencil portrait recently commissioned.

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The Asgardians are coming!

August 6, 2016

Here is a set of paintings I’ve done for an upcoming board game called War of the Nine Realms. These are the Asgardians, one of four sets of combatants in the game. They are painted using Gouache on Bristol board.

Jeremy Corbyn MP speaking at Rally in Merthyr Tydfil

August 6, 2016

JC Merthyr-web

Yesterday, Friday 5 August 2016, I took a trip up the A470 road from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil. I made the trip to listen to Jeremy Corbyn MP who was due to make a speech as part of the Labour Party leadership campaign which is currently underway in the UK. The Labour Party are the main opposition party in the UK at the moment. The leadership contest is happening, partly, because after the European Referendum result, where the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU). Jeremy Corbyn had campaigned to stay in the EU. Labour Party MPs took a vote of no confidence in their Leader, Corbyn. There appears to be a undertone of identity crisis within the party as Jeremy Corbyn was overwhelmingly elected as leader by the membership only a year ago on a broadly left wing mandate whereas the majority of MPs currently appear to lean more to the right. The vote of no confidence and the whole contest has been described as somewhat of a coup but ultimately has lead to this campaign and another vote to see whether Corbyn will remain leader of the party or the Parliamentary Party (serving MPs) will get their preferred choice, Owen Smith MP, who stands against him. If you are really interested there is plenty of information written by far cleverer and more knowledgable people than I available online.

From an Urban Sketcher perspective it was chance to draw an important historical area of Merthyr Tydfil, and South Wales, while an important, and potentially historic, moment was taking place there. The area which has recently (2014) been regenerated as an open space within the town. The space has been named Penderyn Square. It is named after a man called Dic Penderyn. A plaque on the front of the Carnegie Library, the large grey building in the centre left of the drawing, reads “Dic Penderyn, Born Richard Lewis in 1808 in Aberdravon and hanged at Cardiff Gaol on August 13th 1831. Following  the Merthyr Insurrection of that year. A martyr of the Welsh working class.”

The Methyr Rising took place in 1831 when coal miners and other workers took to the streets to protest against poor working conditions, low wages and unemployment. During the riot it was alleged that Dic Penderyn and his cousin Lewis Lewis has stabbed Private Donald Black, a soldier of 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot, who had been called in to quash the uprising. Private Black was not fatally injured, and despite many protests against the sentence, Dic Penderyn was eventually hung for the crime. There was later a deathbed confession to the crime by another man and there is currently a campaign to clear his name. The stabbing was said to have occurred outside the Castle Inn, the site of the new square.

The large red brick building, to the left of the drawing, is an Arts and Creative Industries Centre known as The Redhouse. It is a late Victorian Grade II listed building which was originally built as the Town Hall to house the Public Offices, Courts and holding cells. It was re-opened in March 2014 after an £8.2 million redevelopment programme. It’s a stunning building both inside and out and well worth a visit.

I sat on a big grey box under a mobile phone pylon on one side of the square about an hour before Jeremy Corbyn arrived to draw the buildings. I then drew the crowd as it grew before and during his speech adding the colour afterwards. It was interesting listening to the speeches (there were a number of speakers) while drawing and watching the crowds reactions. As well as workers rights, women’s rights and tax avoidance Corbyn spoke of Kier Hardie who, it is worth noting here, was MP for Merthyr Tydfil from 1900-1915. A Scotsman, born in 1856, who started the Labour Party in 1900. The whole drawing was rather ambitious and took far too long, the square being clear of supporters by the time I got down with a stiff back and very much in need of a good cup of coffee form the café in the Redhouse.

It is the first time I have seen a political rally in this country where there were a lot of coloured flags, along with the banners and placards, on this occasion red ones, handed out and waved during the event. It reminded me of a rally I drew whilst in Barcelona in 2010. It was a quick sketch in my small moleskine notebook but I’ve included it here as it shows a similar event in a different country.

barcelona_sketch_05

Beyond the Border Wales International Storytelling Festival 2016

July 7, 2016

Last weekend (1-3 July 2016) saw the biennial Beyond the Border – Wales International Storytelling Festival. The Festival was held, once again, at United World Colleges Atlantic College, St. Donats in the Vale of Glamorgan, some 25 miles to the West of Cardiff. St. Donat’s Castle is a medieval castle (c1300) which has developed and grown over the centuries. It was purchased in 1925 by the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hurst who spent a fortune renovating and revitalising the buildings. After Hurst’s death the castle was bought in 1962 by Monsieur Antonin Besse II who then gave it to the Governing body of Atlantic College.

The Beyond the Border Storytelling Festival brings together storytellers and musicians from all over the world to this idyllic spot every two years. A wonderful and vibrant three-day festival of storytelling and music.

The Festival was spread out among the gardens and terraces and through the woods and fields that make up the grounds of Atlantic College. The first drawing (pen and water colour) shows the Big Top and Einion’s Forge with the St. Donat’s Bay, the Bristol Channel and the English coastline beyond.

big-top-web

One of the terraces is named the Blue Garden for the duration of the Festival. Here I sat in the sunshine and listened to storytellers Jez Danks and Dafydd Davies Hughes tell wonderful and humorous tales through the mediums of both Welsh and English. Here I have drawn, with graphite pencil and watercolour wash, Dafydd Davies Hughes.

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There are two iron work statues in the grounds. They are by sculpture Nadim Karam and from a series entitled ‘Stretching Thoughts’.

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After climbing down flights of stone stairs, across the terraces and through the gardens you reach the Jousting Field. A long narrow tree lined avenue of a field that, at one end, houses the St. Donat’s Church. I drew this picture with Pitt pen and watercolour whilst watching The Smallest Theatre in The World – with room inside for 2 – performing their version of King Kong. Very funny and clever performance.

smallest-theatre-web

At the other end of the Jousting Field, after walking past the ‘kid zone’ where children and adults alike try to juggle, spin plates on sticks and walk on stilts, past the making tent where lanterns are made in preparation for the final torchlight procession, past the performers of Circus Raj (all the way from India), past the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) beer tent and all sorts of tents serving delicious food from around the world, you come to the Storytelling Café. Next to the café I sat outside The Greatest Little Coffee Box, a charming outdoor coffee shop cunningly fashioned from an old horse box, drinking some fine fresh coffee and drawing this picture using the coffee itself as the wash.

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The last few pictures are ones I drew that were inspired by the stories I was listening to.

giants-web Beowulf-web beard-web

She Drew the Gun gig – The Louisiana, Bristol

July 7, 2016

SDTG_Louisiana_Bristol

Watched the awesome new band, She Drew the Gun, at the Louisiana in Bristol last April. Drew this picture while I was there.