Tag Archives: Dysgu Cymraeg

What’s in a name?

When my super intelligent, super talented sister decided to write a blog, her biggest challenge was not how she would find the time to write (newly retired from keeping the NHS afloat, time for personal pursuits is a novelty) or what she would write about (cooking, touring, history, walking, living in the beautiful Welsh Marches etc).  No, it turned out that what caused her embryonic career as a blogger to stutter was finding a title for it.  After trying to match the expectations of her potential readers with her own ideas and aspirations she came up with this which I think works pretty well (as, indeed, do her blogs).

Duro and Helen
Duro and Helen

When I started out as a Textile Artist I wondered whether I should use my own name or come up with something a little less personal.  There were a couple of reasons: firstly, my name is not that uncommon and, coincidentally, there’s another Maria Lalic in the art world although she is higher profile and exhibits in places like the Tate; secondly, as much as I love textile art, I also love primitive craft, writing, teaching workshops, gardening and loads of other things.  I wondered about having an all-encompassing label for these things because I thought that people who liked my artwork might think that there was a multitude of people with the same name doing loads of different things.  I couldn’t come up with the umbrella term in the same way as my sister did so I settled on giving each activity a different name.  Textiles to Treasure showed off my attempts at crafts,

Mumma Doll
Mumma Doll

Rebecca Alston wrote short stories, book reviews and magazine articles and Simple Country Folk reflected my interest in gardening, simple living and self reliance.  When Lorraine from Greenweeds Web Design got involved she was adamant that everything should come under my name because she said – quite rightly – all of the different aspects of my character affected the work I produce as a Textile Artist.

I wasn’t convinced but I said goodbye to all of my alter-egos and carried on as just me.  Nowhere is this more obvious than on my twitter account where I use my 140 characters to micro blog about textile art,

Lleuadra
Lleuadra

my cat Lily,

What now?
What now?

how the garden looks,

After weeding ...
After weeding …

the weekly Porthcawl Park Run

and my treks through the local countryside.

Early morning on River Garw
Early morning on River Garw

 

Weithiau, wrth gwrs, rydw i’n ysgrifennu yn y Gymraeg achos bod diddordeb mawr ‘da fi yn yr iaith Gymraeg ac Hanes a Diwylliant Cymru ac mae llawer o bobl yn defnyddio twitter am yr un peth.   

We pretty much get stuck with the names our parents give us but of course you can wreak revenge when you name your own offspring though that is easy compared to naming pieces of artwork.  When I had my usual pop up exhibition at the year’s Wonderwool I was struggling with what to call this piece but my problem was solved by my pal, the wonderfully talented artist Miranda Bowen , who came up with a great title.

The Guardian
The Guardian

At the same event I showed some work that I had made for an exhibition that I’ll be having at Bryngarw Country Park on the 30/31 July 2016.  Exhibitions also need names! I found a snippet of a quote from the Book of Isaiah which referred to a ‘habitation of dragons and a court of owls’ so the name for the exhibition is ‘A Habitation of Dragons’ and all of the pieces of work will be inspired by dragons or dragon-lore.

The Dragon of Cwm Garw Fechan
The Dragon of Cwm Garw Fechan

That’s a lot of titles to come up with and whilst they sound a bit fictional (Heuldra, Lamia, Sreca for example), all of the names have their roots in mythology or the Welsh language.  So whilst I was standing there at Wonderwool, waxing lyrical about the variety of Textile Art I had on display, talking about the things which inspire or interest me and giving information about our NGS open garden day to just about anybody who stopped long enough to listen, a lady came up to me and said “Is this all yours?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“There’s too much,” she said, “and it’s all too different, too confusing.  I can’t cope.”  And she walked away.

I wonder what Lorraine would have to say about that.

A dweud y gwir, does dim ots ‘da fi nawr. Yn yr Eisteddfod Genedlaethol eleni, byddaf i’n gwneud sesiwn crefft ym Maes D yn y bore ac yn siarad am fy ngardd yn y prynhawn Ddydd Gwener.  Dewch a dweud ‘Helo’ pe basech chi yno. 

Etifeddiaeth

“Hawdd cynnau tân ar hen aelwyd”

“It’s easy to kindle a fire on an old hearth”

I love the word ‘etifeddiaeth’.  It means ‘inheritance’ or ‘legacy’ and is the title I chose for a series of Textile Art works inspired by the tales of Cynddylan and Heledd.  I’ve written about them in previous blogs and you can read more here.

Elfan Powys
Elfan Powys

This year the National Eisteddfod of Wales is being held in Meifod, the homeland of Cynddylan and Heledd .  I was disappointed ‘Etifeddiaeth’  wasn’t selected to be part of the occasion but, it turns out, something just as exciting came along and the work is now being exhibited in a completely different context.

Caranfael
Caranfael

Dydd Llun diwethaf, ces i neges oddi wrth Rachelle Barlow yn gofyn am fenthyg o ‘Etifeddiaeth’ ar gyfer arddangosfa am yr Eisteddfod.

I once had music lessons.  After two years my piano teacher called a halt and said she couldn’t keep taking my money because nothing she did would work – I didn’t have a musical bone in my body.  So you’d have to wonder how I’d know such a talented, knowledgeable and respected ethnomusicologist as  Rachelle Barlow . I shall leave that for a future blog or possibly Rachelle’s autobiography.  Suffice to say that we spent Monday evening with me issuing forth my opinions on what makes art, art and Rachelle eating her way through a plate of Jammy Dodger biscuits.

Eglwysau Basa
Eglwysau Basa

Rachelle had done her homework and came armed with copies of R S Thomas poems – I  am particularly fond of  the imagery in The Journey and Resevoirs – and a manuscript of ancient Welsh songs which had part of Cân Heledd set to music.  It was really interesting to see the way in which two completely different creative practices could come together and find a common ground.  In this case, it started out as introducing the ethos of the Eisteddfod to the students, staff and visitors who use the Library at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama but by the end of the plate of Jammy Dodgers, Rachelle and I realised that there was a much wider appeal on the shelves of the Library itself.

Pengwern
Pengwern

So much art – of what ever genre – is interpreting another art form or reality.  I look at the poems of R S Thomas and say they inspire me but actually what I am doing is interpreting his words in a technique which I can use.  R S Thomas in turn, had used words to interpret his reality – though in some of his poems, he was clearly inspired by works of figurative art.  ‘Etifeddiaeth’ is my interpretation of Heledd’s Lament and The Death Song of Cynddylan but both of those were written by someone who was interpreting a reality.  When you understand that art can be interpretative as well as imaginative, the possibilities become endless and endlessly exciting.

Hirwaun - inspired by The Journey (R S Thomas)
Hirwaun – inspired by The Journey (R S Thomas)

Diolch i fisgedi Jammy Dodgers, penderfynodd Rachelle lydanu pwnc yr arddangosfa i gynnwys diwylliant a llenyddiaeth yn ogystal â’r Eisteddfod.

Much of the artwork has been left out on shelves so that it can be handled by the students and visitors to the Library.  I think that this is an important part of Textile Art.   One of the things that I gain from being at events like the National Eisteddfod and having a ‘pop up’ exhibition is encouraging people to touch and handle the embroidery.  I hope that the actors, musicians and designers from the College will take the opportunity to experience my work and use it to inform their own.  As I said to Rachelle, in my opinion, there are three things which make art, art:  first, it evokes an emotional response; secondly, it provokes thought; last, it demonstrates skill or good technique.

If you create something – craft, art, music, literature, dance, dramatic performance – and you can apply those three criteria, then you will be satisfied but probably not for long.  Creativity likes to leave updated legacies because you keep coming up against new realities or genres to interpret.  I love R S Thomas and Cynddylan and Heledd but I have just discovered the existence of Celtic Coin Art.  Oh my word!  I can see a whole new world opening up!

If you have some spare time between now and the beginning of September, why not visit the Library at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.  Not only can you see ‘Etifeddiaeth’ but the chances are you will come into contact with a huge range of creative people and practices, cultural resources and works of music and literature, any or all of which could start you off on a new creative journey.  Happy kindling!

 

 

If you’re going down …

“If you’re going down, go down with the band playing”

A Guide to Scarecrow Wisdom – Rule 1  by Rowli Pugh

I am currently recovering from my EPIC weekend.  It started on Thursday at Aberystwyth having a ‘business’ meeting with the lovely Lorraine of Greenweeds Web Design.  This began with lunch, moved on to Constitution Hill to admire the view across Cardigan Bay, paused with an oversized ice cream and ended on the Pier where we finally gave up on business chat having been totally distracted by the antics of a pod of dolphins.  Lorraine is constantly trying to persuade me to engage more with social media (unlikely) and is responsible for the way my website looks and behaves.  A website can actually be very useful to artists and other creatives, says Lorraine.  Finally, I have come to agree with her.  Following on from the Arts Council of Wales funded project The Keepers which tracked the development of Textile Art from inspiration to completion through this blog, I use the website as a kind of journal or scrapbook.  All my favourite (and useful) images, sketches and bits/bobs are kept here in cyberspace.

Cardigan Bay
Cardigan Bay

Back to the weekend: Friday saw the selected designers of the International  Cambrian Mountains Wool Design Challenge gathering at the Park & Ride in Aberystwyth for a bus journey to Nanteos Mansion Hotel.  And what a range of beautiful things we had made: from clothing to soft furnishings; toys to jewellery – all brilliantly staged by the incredible organisers to show off both the wool and the talent of the designers to the best.   We got to spend a couple of hours together whilst we were waiting for the guest of honour.  I’m not sure what the collective term is for a group of Textile Artists & Makers – a network? – but there were a lot of us and we talked non-stop.  It was lovely to meet HRH The Prince of Wales (surprisingly knowledgeable about wool) and the Aberystwyth experience got my epic weekend off to the best of starts!

Me, Jane Withers & HRH The Prince of Wales
Me, Jane Withers & HRH The Prince of Wales

Thanks to the help of Ruth Packham and Rebecca Connolly I caught the early bus back to Carmarthen for the train to Cardiff, was picked up at the station by mate Sarah, got home, changed and was whisked to a hotel in Heathrow Airport by other pals, Pat the Shed and her hubby, St John the Provider.  At 5.40am on Saturday morning I was on the Oxford Tube bus eventually be deposited at the grandly named Lewknor Turn Coach Interchange – though this is actually a layby, and a very ordinary one at that.  From there it was only a short journey to the start of phase 2 of my epic weekend.  No more the posh frocked, hob-nobbing with royalty, artist; from now on, I was one of 2100 lycra clad participants in the Race to the Stones.

Along the River Thames
Along the River Thames

By the end of Saturday, after 50k on Shanks’ Pony, I was at Base Camp, aching, blistered but so pleased with myself and so looking forward to the next day when I was going to achieve a life-long ambition – to visit the Stone Circle at Avebury.  If you’ve never been there, it’s worth the visit.   One of the reasons I wanted to go there is because I find the history of the British Isles a rich source of inspiration for the kind of art I do.  If you want to do something creative – whether it’s painting, writing, music or anything else – it is worth getting out and about so that you can experience what it is that inspires you.

Avebury Stone Circle
Avebury Stone Circle

Nothing I had ever seen on television did the Avebury Stones justice.  9am and I was in position on the top of a bank, sketch book at the ready.  I don’t pretend to be a good artist but I find sketching so much more satisfying that taking photographs.

Avebury Sketch 1
Avebury Sketch 1
Avebury Sketch 2
Avebury Sketch 2

By Sunday teatime my epic weekend was over – apart from the blisters and the aches.  It was amazing from start to finish. On Monday I was back to work (trying to keep the NHS afloat, weeding an overgrown garden and dealing with a surfeit of garlic).  All of which goes to illustrate the wisdom of Rowli Pugh’s  Rule 1 for Scarecrows – if you are going down, go down with the band playing – in other words, if you are doing something special, give it 100% and do it with a smile on your face.  That way, you’ll remember it for ever.

A rhag ofn i chi feddwl fy mod i wedi anghofio bod rhai ohonoch chi’n dysgu’r Gymraeg – dydw i ddim!  Roedd yr holl benwythnos yn fendigedig.  Rydw i’n dwlu ar Aberystwyth yn enwedig yr hufen iâ.  Roedd Tywysog Siarl yn hyfryd.  Gobeithiaf y byddaf fi’n cwrdd â fe eto yn y dyfodol.  Y flwyddyn nesaf, rydw i’n mynd i redeg yn y Ras i’r Brenin am hwyl – dim ond 52 milltir.  Gwych!  Ond byddai’n well ‘da fi benwythnosau gwahanol!