Beasts of the Mabinogi

This year in Wales is the Year of Legends. I have recently had the pleasure of collaborating with Fauxidermy in a project based on the Mabinogion. These are a collection of stories passed down the generations in Wales eventually taking written form in approximately the 12th-13th century.  They talk of fabulous creatures, giants, royalty, romances, Welsh landscape and describe the most beautiful colours. I worked with Fauxidermy to create enamelled pieces for a touring exhibition organised by Oriel Cric Gallery and funded by the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund.  Fauxidermy used Melin Tregwynt’s gorgeous woven fabrics to tell the story of these mythical creatures. The exhibition opened on 26th March at Melin Tregwynt in Pembrokeshire and will move to Oriel Cric in May.

During my research I discovered enamel was mentioned in the Mabinogi.  Manawydan one of the characters learns how to enamel using Blue-Azure and starts making pommels, shields and shoe buckles using the technique. Working with enamel on copper I made bridle pieces for Rhiannon’s horse featuring the birds of Rhiannon. The song of these magical birds was said to ‘wake the dead and lull the living to sleep’.

I also made  a comb, scissors and razor for Twrch Trwyth.  This was an enchanted wild boar who caused havoc throughout Wales and England. His grooming accessories were wanted to shave a giant and the hunt ensued.

I am sure this will lead on to a new body of work as I feel I have only just begun!

We are not doing Welsh today.

‘We are not doing Welsh today Mummy’ was the response I received when I attempted my ‘Bore da’ and ‘Sut mae’ yesterday morning. Well I am ‘doing Welsh’ or at least trying and have signed up with Deb to beginners class. We have been practising in the workshop although how often we need to greet each other with a cheery ‘Pryn hawn da’ I’m not quite sure. Hopefully we will move onto other phrases in next weeks class, maybe by then I won’t be so ‘wedi blino’!

The Eisteddfod and new work.

With the National Eisteddfod of Wales taking place locally this year it seemed an ideal opportunity to exhibit my work at this important event in the Welsh calendar. I will be showcasing and selling my work at the Made in Monmouthshire marquee.

With this in mind the workshop was an industrious place today. Both Deb (Deborah Edwards, creator of this years crown) and I are concentrating our efforts on making new work for the Eisteddfod. Earlier this year I visited The National Wool Museum as part of my research project. On the way I also dropped in to see Jane Beck at her Emporium. What a fabulous collection of Welsh blankets!  Jane has an amazing knowledge of Welsh textiles after years of research, talking to weavers and owners of Carthen and studying these beautiful cloths. It was a fabulous weekend and a visual feast, a definite must for textile lovers.

These visits have lead me to explore a new series of enamels based on the Welsh textile industry. They continue my interest in repetition and multiples but look more specifically at weaving and it’s manufacture. I find the  weaving industry fascinating especially as it is connected with my own family history. Timmy Feather was one of the last hand loom cotton twill weavers in Lancashire and a relative. There is even a folk song written about him!

I have plenty of work to complete for the Eisteddfod but I am pleased with the direction my work is taking so far.