Posts Tagged ‘Llanymynech Limeworks’

Week One: 340 Million Years of Heritage

The first of the new, year-long Oswestry Heritage Comics is in this week’s Oswestry and Border Counties Advertizer. I think it takes the prize for the longest time-interval I’ve ever covered in a single comic. This one does, indeed, cover 340 million years – from the Carboniferous period, when the limestone and coal around Oswestry were laid down – the present day, where we are surrounded by evidence of how that distant time impacted Oswestry’s archaeology, history and heritage. This part of the country has been shaped by its geology, and it’s that I wanted to try and capture in this comic. There’s more to this story, of course: the local geology affected the fertility of the soils, the patterns of water-drainage, even the shape and form of the hills which became the border between England and Wales. If you want to see more ways the geology affected Oswestry’s history, check out the Oswestry Town Museum, which has some interesting information on local geology and geography, and definitely pay a visit to the Hoffman Kiln and Llanymynech Rocks quarry in Llanymynech.


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The Archer - John Swogger, 2013; 40x30cm - on exhibition at Underhill Farm, May 4-6

The Archer – John Swogger, 2013; 40x30cm – on exhibition at Underhill Farm, May 4-6

It’s the Underhill Farm Art & Wild Craft Fair this Bank Holiday weekend, and (in addition to organising the event!), I’m hanging a recent print inspired by Llanymynech quarry above the farm. It’s a slightly off-beat work, I suppose, but thoroughly in keeping with recent prints that I’ve exhibited at Cafe Radio in Oswestry and The Hand at Llanarmon.

The print is another in my series inspired by Japanese woodblocks, and uses many of the visual motifs and devices developed by woodblock print artists during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I’ve been using this style to approach representation of landscape in the Welsh Marches in a different way for about a year or so now, and the results have been really interesting. As my familiarity with the style, and the evolution of my own artistic response has developed, so I have started not just to represent the landscape differently, but I have started to see it differently.

It’s inevitable that as an artist, one naturally translates a view or landscape into the medium and presentation format one is most familiar with. Not being a landscape artist particularly, I found myself most often mentally translating views of the Marches into watercolours or semi-abstract oils, or quick pen-and-ink sketches – media that I do work in, but that I’m not particularly comfortable in. What I never found myself doing was mentally translating what I was seeing into styles that I used everyday in my illustration work.

Now, however, I do. Using the model of Japanese woodblock prints seems to have unlocked something in the way I look at landscape. Now I find myself seeing things that I didn’t really see before – not details in the landscape, but elements that inspire me draw and produce prints entirely concordant with my usual way of working. It’s been something of a revelation. And what’s more, this whole issue of not just representing but also seeing and looking through the lens of a particular style or medium seems to carry with it big implications for what I’m doing with comics and archaeology.

So, the piece I am hanging at Underhill Farm this weekend is only the first in quite a big series of prints which I’ll be finishing up over the course of the year. The series is entitled A Way of Looking at Time, and at the moment consists of eight prints, but will probably end up being expanded to twelve. Each one is linked to all the others, both physically (each print connects, left and right, to others in the series), and thematically – exploring the layering of landscapes, experience and time with artistic responses growing out of the Underhill Farm artists’ group. The series will be exhibited at Underhill Farm first, and then at other venues around the Borderlands.

Printed at NOW Art. Thanks to Ollie, Nick, Pete & Mo at NOW Group.

Underhill Farm Art & Wild Craft Fair – Sat., Sun, Mon., May 4 – 6, 10-4pm. Underhill Farm, Shropshire: SY10 9RB. More info at: www.insideoutart.co.uk

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Spent the day out around Llanymynech Limeworks and quarry with the Inside Out Art Group for their monthly sketching day. With various thoughts about comics and field work buzzing through the back of my mind, I did a lot of fast sketches – about two dozen (a selection, above) – trying to catch the place as quickly as possible. It’ll take me a while to figure out how to use a comics approach to capture the practice of a sketching day like this, but today pointed me in a few possible directions.

I always like sketching at the quarry and around the limeworks – there’s something about the big, massed quarry cliffs and the stark bulk of the buildings hidden amongst the greenery that really appeals.

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The Crushing Mill, Hendre Quarry – 30x45cm print from pen and ink (2012)

I’m taking part in the Inside Out exhibition Ceiriog at The Hand in Llanarmon D.C. in October. I’m putting in this print of the Crushing Mill at Hendre Quarry, down near Pandy. It’s taken from some very quick sketches I made during our art walk to the quarry at the beginning of the month.

The print is one of a number I’ve been working on at the moment, based on places such as Hendre Quarry, the Llanymynech Limeworks and the Llangollen and Montgomery canals between here and Welshpool. It’s been nice to do some larger-scale work in black and white – and to do work based on local sites as well. I have been tempted to do several reconstruction views of these places, too. Perhaps as the Ceiriog exhibition continues I might do a few of those at some point.


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