Sitting in the warm cosy kitchen at Penmeiddyn with Sue and Simon, arranging pebbles brought in from a walk on the beach the day before, it might be easy to forget the wind buffeting the coastline outside.
Last weekend I spent a very short 24 hours here to plan my weeks teaching June, exploring the beautiful gardens, the fields and agricultural land surrounding the house and the coast beyond.
There is a wealth of inspiration and source material here from the traces of domestic use in the garden (changing boundaries, remains of gates, beds, borders, newly trodden paths) to the on-going use of the fields (footpaths which cross-cross the fields hidden under grass , tractor ruts deep under water, streams continually rearranging the earth, wind bent trees, abandoned cottages slowly crumbling) and on to the wildness of the beach (where pebbles shift continuously, emerging streams part the stones to carve deep tracks, the sand breaks over ancient trees that date to 6000 bc, where tracks and traces are rewritten each day with the tide).
Sue and Simon’s house Penmeiddyn is large enough to accommodate a group of workshop participants, set in formal and wild gardens, surrounded by a stream and right next to a gallery. Although not far from Fishguard, it is completely secluded and very peaceful. Sue and Simon are both artists and Sue is also a dru yoga teacher.
Above; From the old wall, which divides the cultivated garden from the wilder, woodland garden, looking towards the house.
Below; From the old wall looking towards the yurt (just seen centre right).
I will be teaching a wild casting course ‘Traces and Tracks’ examining how we have altered – and left traces of our passage on – the landscape around us for thousands of years. How can we better understand our place in the landscape, our effect on the natural world?
Over the four taught days we will be working directly from materials, objects and source material starting in the grounds of Penmeiddyn and moving out gradually into the surrounding landscape and eventually to the coast, at each stage taking a different view point (practical and philosophical). We will explore the tracks, traces and evidence of time passing, growth and decay, and movement in the landscape, through casting with non-toxic and natural materials such as plaster, clay, latex, beeswax and alginate. We will develop this into an investigation into the traces of man on the landscape and our own tracks and marks made during the week workshop. This could be developed in a process based manner or conceptually, by recording using sketches, rubbings, drawings, photographs or casts, by investigating the tracks and spoors that are already present, by altering these or by creating new traces and passages. On-site discussion, performance and actions are encouraged.
There will be in depth material investigation, practical support for all casting methods, the chance to refine rough casts made in the field into more developed casts and moulds from which single or multiple cast objects could be made. To complement the practical work there will be a series of presentations of artist’s work, discussion around the theory of trace in the landscape and also as a philosophical term. Short films about artists and makers will be shown supporting the developing work and ideas. There are ‘free days’ before and after the taught days to allow more work to be made, to provide time to think and absorb and time to explore the area more thoroughly. The aim of this intense week is to come away with a deeper understanding direct casting, a series of moulds and casts from which to work or from which to draw inspiration, and a full sketchbook with broad source material.
If you are interested in taking part in this course, please contact me or contact Sue and Simon on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://penmeiddyn.myshopify.com/