Watercolour sketching at Curlews – overlooking the beautiful Usk Valley where the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains meet. I start this blog where I finished off last time. I had just been driven by Heather from the beautiful Rhiwiau to the busy little market town of Crickhowell where I met up with my friend Jane at the Dragon Inn.
Looking down the High Street towards the Dragon Inn and River Usk. The hills you see are Llangattock where one of the biggest cave complexes in UK can be found. I lived in Crickhowell for twelve years from 1993 til 2005. During that time, along with commissions and teaching, I worked on a project, entitled Focusing on the Future which used the power of art to teach children about their environment and issues such as trust, loneliness and homelessness. Without going into all the details, it almost made it, but sadly in the end it had to be put aside.
Christeve the Cat (who appeared at my cottage door during a violent storm on Christmas Eve 1996) was the key character in the project along with hummingbirds symbolising the unseen magic in our world, and as anyone following my blog will know…the magical hummingbirds continue to thrive.
Christeve the Cat with magical hummingbird. From Focusing on the Future project. On this visit I stayed at the Dragon Inn which brought back many happy memories. When I first returned to Wales in 1993, I stayed with my cousin and family who initially introduced me to Crickhowell, and then I moved into a small flat over the antique shop right next to the Dragon. The people who ran the Dragon at that time, allowed me to use the functions room to paint portraits and entertain my guests….how wonderful is that……
The Dragon Inn Crickhowell, which I highly recommend. The food is superb. One of the many portraits I painted in Crickhowell. This is Ken…a man of Wales. As I painted people, I asked them to talk about their lives in Crickhowell all of which I have on cassette tapes. watercolourIn hindsight, when I arrived in 1993, it was the end of an era, With the advent of technology the area has become busier, but thankfully because of protection offered by The Brecon Beacons National Park, it still keeps its charm and has a great sense of community.
I walked for at least two hours every day – initially with the company of Bumble, the beautiful golden lab that I included in the paintings in St. Edmund’s Church. Through Bumble I met the people of Crickhowell.
One of my many favourite haunts was the Bluebell Wood. watercolour sketch It has taken a few years for me to feel totally comfortable again in returning. I think along with feelings of sadness, I felt a sense of letting many people, especially the children down because the Focusing on the Future project didn’t come to fruition. However, I am now pleased to say that all of those negative feelings have gone, allowing me to thoroughly enjoy this very special place again.
When I return now it is lovely to see many of the people I would encounter every day when I lived there. It was such a pleasure to enjoy a meal with Zena the post mistress..one of the many lovely people who were such a big part of my life.
We enjoyed a fantastic evening, and a lovely day of painting, at Curlews with Sally and Gareth Reese, children and friends…it was perfect. Company, food, and of course the amazing setting.
The view from Curlews..watercolourAnother good friend, Lizzy Wilson joined us for a day…..bringing back many happy and some difficult memories. Lizzy was so supportive when things didn’t work out with the project, and helped me to clear my studio before moving to London.
A sketch of Lizzy shortly before I moved to London in 2005. I could go on and on, but needless to say, Crickhowell and the whole area holds a very special place in my heart. I will now look forward to many more visits.
I finish with this poster from the Focusing on the Future project featuring Theodore the Tiger, Christeve the Cat and a magical hummingbird. watercolour
May the magical hummingbirds be with you all.