Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I stayed near Crickhowell, a beautiful part of the Brecon Beacons, in a tiny, cozy two-room cottage, which was fine since I'm only four feet eleven inches high and not very wide but even so, the steep and narrow spiral staircase to the bedroom required some careful contortions. When I wasn't walking and sketching in the countryside or visiting nearby towns, I'd sit indoors and draw. 

The found-object frame around the mirror is one of the thoughtful touches around the cottage.

Even when - especially when - the sky is cloudy, at this time of year the greens are of almost neon brightness while the blackness of the hills is streaked with purples, browns, reds and patches of emerald. I was particularly spellbound by reflections in the river Usk and by the copper-coloured water of the Brecon canal. Narrow boats silently glide by as you walk along the tree-lined banks. Some of the boats are manned by amateur skippers, worriedly looking straight ahead, expecting trouble. 

And there were sheep of course. Plump and peaceful, eating and resting, resting and eating, dutifully taking care of their woolliness.

I spent a few hours in Abergavenny on a day packed with crowds for the Food Festival, which was fun. But what I liked best were the side-streets and the people at the bus queue going home.

Some teddies in this shop are very old, very rare and very expensive.

On my next to last day, I was privileged to be invited to tea at the home of friends of Clive Hicks-Jenkins: William Gibbs and his civil partner Sonthaya. By happy coincidence they live very near the village where I was staying and Clive suggested I look them up. Due to a stupid (my stupidity) dental mishap, I nearly cancelled the appointment but fortunately I was persuaded to ignore vanity and come anyway. It was a memorable afternoon with this most interesting and hospitable couple, a marvellous house and garden, and an art collection that so stunned and inspired me that I quite forgot to take photos. Besides the achievements mentioned at the above link, William is a patron of the arts, collector, critic, lecturer and chairman of various Arts Trusts. With all this activity he still manages to appear relaxed and at ease. Enthusiasm for life and art and a discerning sensibility is evident in every corner of the home that William and Sonthaya share and I'm so grateful that I didn't miss this opportunity to meet them. 

Still seeing the week in Wales in my mind's eye and long may it linger. I took a lot more photos and might post them on Flickr later on. A few more drawings also to come.


No comments: