Made in Wales
1989 – 2009: A Fresh Start
1989 – A stranger in a strange place
In 1989, my partner Marian, a teacher in Liverpool, accepted the position of Head at a school in South Wales. The move provided a valuable new start and an opportunity to rebuild my life and future creative work commitment.
After moving, I spent the first couple of years working freelance in the leisure industry as a designer and pattern-maker. During the move to Mumbles, we had also agreed to look at buying a tumble-down farmhouse and outbuildings in France. As our new cottage was only small, the French property would be an investment opportunity, and have sufficient space for a decent studio workshop.
Subsequently, I began to rebuild my creative confidence by attending life classes where I met other Swansea artists. However, working in my home loft studio, I continued to explore new visual imagery based on light and the exceptional ambient luminosity reflected from the sea, with its unique impact on the coastal urban environment.
Titles for life studies: Jealousy – Lost Horizon – Undecided – Crucified for the need of a perfect body (triptych). My favourite pet is a venomous snake – Ego in a tussle with id. Maybe I should take life more seriously – Is it me that I see? These are just some of the posed narratives for the viewer to consider. I do not consider myself a figurative artist. They are a visual exercise and a diary of some of my concerns.
1998 Community action as an animateur
As a newcomer to living in Wales, I was inspired by the fact that I was living in the cultural birthplace of late 19th-century democratic socialism. Therefore, inevitably, I joined the local branch of the Labour Party (Gower CLP) and became active in the Mumbles community. I set up a community action group because of a contentious local planning issue and gained the support of over 100 local people. Incredibly, the development got shelved. So, having activated the community, it was agreed to convert the action group into a community trust.
1999 Mumbles Development Trust
Consequently, the original community action group became the Mumbles Development Trust (MDT). It proved very successful in helping energise the community and organised a broad range of cultural activities over the next decade. With over 150 volunteer members, the trust arranged annual beach clean events and litter-picking in the local woodlands. They also established a monthly Mumbles Local Produce Market and annual Mostly Jazz and Blues Festival (with the support of Swansea Jazz Club).
A local shop became ‘Ty Llen’ history centre, and Mumbles Way was created, linking all the woodlands along Mumbles headland. An annual Oyster Food Fair was also set up, promoting the revival of the local 19th-century oyster trade. Working with local fishermen and a marine biologist, the trust obtained funding from the EU’s Fisheries Local Action Groups scheme.
The Mumbles Development Trust raised funds through charities, the EU and the Welsh Government and it is still active today. Many of the activities are now run by a more pro-active community council funded by taxation, as it should be.
Artwork Made in Wales
Luminaria: Light-scapes and overlays
In my loft studio in Mumbles, by 2003, I built up a sufficient portfolio to consider having a solo exhibition. It was a continuation of my earlier work, which was originally concerned with colour, light and space. But now concentrating on transmitted or reflected light spilling out virtually subliminally and unnoticed as dynamic imagery in our domestic and urban landscapes.
This work evolved and developed into abstract colour compositions and transparency overlay collages in two and three dimensions. I titled this Luminaria, along with paintings, photography, neon light constructs and more recently digitized imagery.
2003 New Exposure Artists Gallery, Swansea
2007/8 The Dylan Thomas Centre Gallery, Swansea
Exhibitions in England and Wales
- 2003 Exposure Gallery, Swansea (Dr Bill Gaskins opening)
- 2005 Signature Gallery, Mumbles
- 2006 The Winter Gallery, Mumbles
- 2007-8 The Dylan Thomas Centre Gallery, Swansea
- 2015 Oriel Bach, Mumbles
- 2017 No 8 Arts Centre Pershore