In another painting I was drawn to the mouth of the deserted mine in the mountainside, and in this drawn work – I was literally drawn again, to the nearby Foel Grochan which is punched into the hillside of an utterly remarkable landscape in the Afon Dulas valley.
The Raven has become for me a kind of totemic bird for the area of mid-Wales I came to know better during the winter of 2017. A series of ink and watercolour paintings were produced over this time to respond to their presence in the valleys, at a time when species diversity is relatively low and the Raven is presumably one of the few birds able to eke a living out of those scraps, carrion and other animals also capable of roughing-out a Welsh winter.
Watercolour and ink on paper, 297x423cm
The horizon line is important in this composition as it was the landscape-analogue to the bird, an eternal feature of the valleys with its rising bowl shape whose crinkled brow is ever defined by the massed ranks of conifers – whatever the season. The blue is a night blue, a twilight, evening blue of a winter night in a Welsh valley. Try and imagine the lonely yet commanding grrok-grrok call of the Raven if you will.
It is a wonderful thing that the glossy plumage of the Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) is a remarkable match to carborundum (SiC), and that the two share such a black sheen, metallic, almost other-worldly. That they almost share a taxonomic name is another delicious conceit.
As the title suggests, this large charcoal study returns the wood to the material from whence it came. It is a like an allegory for the entire site of the duck decoy at Hale and its setting in the bleak landscape of the marsh, compounded by its very inaccessibility. Yet one must be ‘drawn’ back there, again.
The shoreline is littered with sculpture; cast concrete and complex shapes in brick, the ensemble carefully assembled by the vagaries of time and tide. Only in walking a landscape and spending patient hours in pencil, pen and ink is one party to the quiet dignity of an otherwise chaotic scene.
The whole always seems purposeful, and the location particularly enigmatic given its proximity to the busying world that lies within easy reach. The triangular pyramids bind the detritus of the shore in both a practical and poetic sense. They are modern era megaliths, a fitting addition to the heady ritual landscape of the south Liverpool shore.
Pen and Ink, 42x29cm (2016)