Penarth – photo inspiration

I find I look at things differently since starting on this creative path.  I am excited by places that I visit; even places that I have visited many times. Penarth is no exception, I have been going there for years, firstly with my mum and dad and then with my own children.

As a child it was not my favourite place, as it seemed quiet and boring -there was not even a sandy beach! However, when I went there in the summer with my husband and daughter, I saw a very different Penarth and really became aware of the Victorian features that I had hardly noticed before.


Following my visit I did a little research into Penarth and on a blog (, discovered an intriguing story about the family who were the money and influence behind this little town.  Robert Henry Clive, formed plans to establish a tidal harbour in the River Ely, unfortunately, he was taken ill and died, in 1853 before the plans were finalised.  This left his widow and mother of his six children, Lady Harriett Windsor-Clive to see the plans to completion in 1865.

Lady Harriett owned most of Penarth by this time and had been the driving force behind the development of Penarth Docks.  The day of the Grand Opening was arranged to coincide with the tides, so it was decided that 7.30am on Saturday 10th June, 1865 would mark the event.  It was a wonderful atmosphere, there were flags flying and people turned up with picnic baskets to celebrate this important day.

It was all about Harriett; it was her land, most of the money had been hers and she had seen the project through to completion after her husband died. She had even dealt with the competition and unscrupulous behaviour of the Bute family and their rival docks in Cardiff.  However, when the moment came to open the docks at 7.30am, Harriett was not there!

James Poole the chairman of the Taff Vale Railway, looked at his gold pocket and apologised for her absence and “as time and tide wait for no man” named the dock in her name and declared it open.

The success of Penarth Docks, led to the transformation of the ‘quiet rural hamlet into a bustling maritime town and popular seaside resort’, but 150 years on historians are still confused as to what happened to Lady Harriett that morning.

It is stories like this that I would love to highlight through my work and why I am interested in artist in residence opportunities.  I would like to delve into lessen known stories of historical places and produce work that would promote conversations with their visitors.

St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall


These are some of the photos that I took on my visit to St Michael’s Mount in August.  I was really intrigued by this island, it was visually an amazing place.  The gardens were beautiful with their sub tropical plants and the castle was imposing, sitting on top of the mount over looking Marazion.

The inside of the castle is well preserved and there is a great deal of of original features, adding to the beauty of this building.  Many artefacts are on display adding to the richness of the history.  This is a place that I would love to do an artist in residence and delve further into the lesser known stories of this island.

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London – 1st Nov, 2014

Artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper created this installation to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and it consists of 888,246 ceramic poppies that filled the Tower’s moat. Each poppy represented a British military fatality during that war.

The aim of the installation was to show the magnitude of this important centenary and to create a powerful visual commemoration. Also the poppies are to be sold for £25 each and delivered after the installation ends on Nov 11th; the proceeds will be shared between six service charities.

My family and I went to London specifically to see this installation and we were not disappointed, it was a compelling sight.  Thousands of people were there to do the same and it took a while to shuffle into a position to get a good view.

I think we were all in awe of the vastness of the poppies and to think that they represented fallen military personnel was very poignant. It was a sunny day with clouds in the sky which totally altered the appearance of the poppies.  One minute they were vibrant red as they basked in the afternoon sun and then as soon as the sun disappeared behind a cloud, they took on quite a sombre shade. It evoked various emotions from celebration to mourning.

This installation seems to have become bigger than just a work of art.  In some ways it reminds me of when Princess Diana died and people went to London in vast numbers, to show their respect.  Many people are calling for this to become a permanent display, but I think this would lessen the impact.  It seems right that it is only here for a finite time to mark this point in time. I will certainly remember this installation in years to come with the utmost respect, not just for the military personnel past and present, but the artists and volunteers who created this art work.

I also feel this has put my ‘public art’ field project from last year into context.  Some of the questions that were posed to me during feedback, now have more impact when I look at them in relation to this installation. Public art is something I would like to pursue during Field in the New Year, as it has interesting possibilities.

The Curious World of Becky Adams at the Penarth Pier Pavilion – 17th August, 2014

I had not planned to see this exhibition today, it was more of a serendipitous event.

I had heard about Becky Adams but had not realised that her work was on display in Penarth at the moment. However it was a pleasing discovery for a number of reasons.

I enjoyed seeing her work very much and it re-ignited an interest in embroidery, which I had many years ago, (although I really only completed embroidery kits before).  Now I am keen to experiment with embroidery as a medium in my own practice. I liked the simplicity of the line stitched pictures and text and this is something I would like to pursue both in hand and machine embroidery.

The blurb stated that Becky Adams ‘is a collector of stories’ and that is really evident in her work.  I think it is another reason why I liked her work so much.  I loved her use of vintage fabrics and antique ephemera, as I identified with these items, as they evoked a sense of nostalgia in me.  However after contemplating her work, I became aware how important the narrative is to me in my own work and I need to find ways of developing this further.

The concertina books gave an interesting dimension to Becky’s work, as did her more sculptural pieces.  I particularly liked the gramophone with a ‘record’ that was fabric on an embroidery hoop and was embellished with text.

3D Printshow London – 9th November, 2013

I went to the 3D Printshow at The Business Design Centre, Islington with my son Alex. Neither of us had been to the BDC before but we were quite impressed with the venue. After dropping off our coats in the cloakroom, we made our way through to the exhibition and were interested by the first exhibit by Legacy Effects. We both have a fascination with movies and special effects and these models were very striking. To be honest hard to believe that they are 3D printed!

We then went upstairs and were greeted by an array of stands with all very similar 3D printed goods. I have recently been introduced to Thingyverse a website that provides access to primarily open source digital design files that have been created by other users. These files can be used for 3D printers, laser cutters and milling machines. A great deal of the items I saw on the stands were items that I had seen available on the website. So a little disappointed with the repetition on display. However there were exceptions to the norm.

We saw a huge Tyrannosaurus Rex head, which had been 3D printed in 300 parts, processed and assembled into a life like model. Also his ‘mate’ a Triceratops head, which had been 3D printed in 600 pieces and finished and assembled in the same way. Both were hugely impressive.
This company look like they have links to museum exhibits with 3D printed skulls and bones etc.

Another exhibit that caught my eye was the Verlan Dress, made on a Maker-Bot by designer Francis Bitonti. I was gutted that I couldn’t afford to go to the fashion show that featured 3D printed clothes – that would have been amazing, if this dress was anything to go by. I think it goes hand in hand with my interest in movies and special effects but I have a passion for theatre costume and the more structural and dramatic the better.

Propshop, based in London, were also there with a model of ‘Thors hammer’ another contribution to Hollywood movies.

It wasn’t all movie inspired exhibits, there was a demonstration of 3D printed jewellery – not plastic or costume jewellery, but silver. That was stunning to watch, a flickering laser light darting back and forth and then before you realised it you could see the form appearing in front of your eyes.

There was a 3D printed electric car called the Urbee, which looked like it had come ‘back from the future’!

I was gutted to learn later, that there was a gallery of 3D printed artwork and sculptures, but I didn’t see any signs and didn’t know it was there so missed this section completely.

Both my son and I enjoyed our visit and it has definitely given me ‘food for thought’. It was enlightening to see the potential for 3D printed items, there is a lot more options than the little plastic figures you can print with the help of Thingiverse. I would like to explore 3D printed structural (almost architectural) clothing that could be used on stage or in films. The other thing that I hadn’t considered until now was printing items and exploring techniques of finishing them, as they did with the dinosaurs and the Avatar.

Other exhibits at the show:

London – Tent Exhibition & CAA

We had an early start in Cardiff, arriving in London mid-morning and the first stop was the Tent Exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery. This was part of The London Design Festival and my first visit to this exhibition. There were too many exhibitors to include them all here, but I have selected a few that really interested me.
The ground floor was mainly laid out in room plans, not dissimilar to an IKEA showroom. However I was drawn to a display by MDT-TEX,  who specialise in textile architecture for outdoor spaces. These umbrella structures impressed me as not only do they provide covered areas but they capture rainwater, which they can either redirect straight into the drain system or collect for recycling.
On the first floor there were many exhibitors displaying varied and interesting products. Camilla Webb Carter Ceramics  was one that interested me with her ceramic wall installations. The ceramic shapes were individually priced and I feel that to have an impressive installation it would have been very expensive, not to mention how labour intensive it would be to hang them all individually! However I would love to see a very large scale design perhaps in a public place where ‘large scale’ could be explored without it being an issue.
Trepan displayed two prototypes; a lamp and a coffee table, which appealed to me a great deal. I liked very much the contrasting use of dark and light wood, but it was the cutwork I liked the most. Looking at their website it states that these objects were inspired by the ‘Greek landscape where pure light both conceals and reveals. It blinds us, casts shadows, but triggers our imagination.’ The table and the lamp are interesting because of the cutwork but it is the shadows that these objects cast that is their most endearing feature.
Donya Coward  claims to be a ‘Textile Taxidermist’ and her art is preserving antique and vintage haberdashery. She works with the faults and ‘age marks’ of these recycled materials, rather than trying to disguise the imperfections, when producing her animal heads. I find this delightful, especially as these days everything seems to have to be perfect.

I have also liked the innovative uses for recycled materials by Sarah Turner  and the chandeliers made from found items by Madeline Boulesteix.

Tent was a very enjoyable experience, with so many talented exhibitors; definitely not to be missed!

At lunch time our group all met outside the Tent exhibition and set off on foot to the Contemporary Applied Arts which has recently moved to its new location in Southwark Street. The building was a lot smaller than I had imagined but I was pleasantly surprised by the current exhibition: Model Making. It is an exhibition which looks at the increasing use of technologies by both crafts people and architectural makers. The CAA collaborated with Allies & Morrison to present digital ‘sketches’, prototypes and finished work. I found this very interesting as it was a unique opportunity to see the maker’s research, sketches and experimental pieces, which showed the early stages of the development of an idea.
Naomi McIntosh  is a designer/maker who is using new technologies in her creative practice.
I was also interested in the laser cut work, as this produces such fine detail, which I would like to achieve in my own work. Looking forward to experimenting with this new technology in the future.