Something for the Weekend….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘January is here, with eyes that keenly glow,

A frost-mailed warrior

striding a shadowy steed of snow,’

Edgar Fawcett

The twinkling lights of the Christmas and New Year festivities seem but distant memories, and we are in that seemingly long haul through the wintery months, eagerly anticipating those first warmer rays of sunshine…

…but before we become too impatient for spring, let’s not overlook how beautiful this season can be; the crisp winter light, the delicate tracery of the naked branches, footprints in the snow and glittering, frosted jewels sparkling in the sunlight…

So many artists have been inspired to pay homage to this time of year…

Peter Doig, ‘Ski Jacket’ 1994

Peter Doig – Ski Jacket, 1994

….and you can find more examples in this article, ‘Six Winter Scenes in Art‘ on the Tate website… I also can’t resist adding in one of my favourite winter paintings…

Winter Landscape, Caspar David Friedrich
Caspar David Friedrich, 1774 – 1840 Winter Landscape c.1811 Oil on canvas, National Gallery

There is also something quite hypnotic about listening to the winter weather, especially if you are warm inside by a roaring fire, hot drink in hand…..

Hunkered down inside is also a great time to do a little reading and research, searching out new and inspiring ideas and artists…and speaking of artists, this week’s ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’ is Gray Jordan

Gray Jordan
Gray Jordan

I was drawn to her feed by the soft washes and hues of her work…and was even more fascinated when reading that Gray makes her own inks from foraged natural materials and pigments such as berries, turmeric and charcoal etc…

Living in Norfolk, Gray names Stiffkey Marsh and Holkham beach as her favourite places – incidentally, two of mine too – areas that feature strongly in her work.

                             Gray Jordan – ‘Stiffkey Horizon’ – Natural Inks on paper including oak gall, woad & privet

They are also great places for collecting objects; seashells, driftwood, seaweed – to hold in your hands, to connect us to the landscape and as a way of tapping into the beauty of the natural world, of harnessing its energy…something that Gray is particularly interested and you can read more about this on her website


Gray Jordan
Gray Jordan

After her experience in art education, which left her feeling lost because it told her that most of the artists, genres etc she loved were considered ‘low brow, boring and old-fashioned’, (something that resonates with my experiences also…), it took another twenty years before Gray felt able to become an artist… ‘I think it is that wonderful freeing up as you get a bit older and realise you’re not cool anyway so you can stop trying and that, anyhow, it is coolest to just love what you love and you don’t have to change the world to make a contribution.’ Gray now unashamedly names Whistler and Turner as two of her favourite artists, along with other creatives who use natural materials and make their own ink, particularly Jacqueline Callandine at Wild Creative…

Gray Jordan
Gray Jordan

Gray names ‘Orlando’ by Virginia Woolf as her favourite book and loves listening to Sigur Ros, an avant-garde Icelandic band, as the music transports her back to that particular landscape, another favourite place, one that also influences her work, as in the above image…

Gray Jordan – ‘Solstice Shore’ – Natural Inks on Paper including privet berry, oak gall and black walnut

As much as possible Gray loves to work outdoors, often ‘making her inks on a fire – or on bits picked out of the fire!’ She has access to a 4 acre field where fruit trees and a dye garden provide some of the raw materials required to make the inks… When the weather is too inclement, she does retreat to a field shelter or her kitchen floor…

Gray Jordan – ‘Holkham Saplings’ – Natural inks on paper including oak gall, woad & privet

Do take a look at Gray’s Instagram feed and website where you will find more examples of her lovely, evocative work…

…and I would like to thank Gray for kindly agreeing to answer my questions… it’s always very much appreciated!!

My work this week has been much as last, experimental, exploratory…trying to find my way… I am beginning to recognise my processes, my rhythms, my fallow times…and know that this period is often an indication of a shift or the development of an idea…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…where, if anywhere, this will lead to remains to be seen…but I am learning to ‘dance with failure’ – as stated by Lubaina Himid in this podcast, ‘The Art of Failure‘… a reminder that, in order to succeed, we have to be willing to ‘fail’…or as Thomas Edison said, ‘ I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work,’ – something that, judging by my pile of ‘collage rejects’, I am well on my way to accumulating…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘Don’t dismiss the elements. Water

soothes and heals.

Air refreshes and revives.

Earth grounds and holds.

Fire is a burning reminder

of our own will and

creative power.

Breathe them in.

Swallow their spells.

There’s a certain sweet

comfort in knowing

that you belong to them all,’

Victoria Erickson

As ever, I hope you have found something to interest and inspire you…have a wonderful weekend!

Take care,


(If you would like even more of my ramblings and art inspired musings, or just news from my studio, please sign up, via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newletter…)

Something for the Weekend…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘The River’s Tale’

‘Twenty Bridges from Tower to Kew –

Wanted to know what the River knew,

Twenty Bridges or twenty-two,

For they were young, and the Thames was old

And this is the tale that River told:-


“I walk my beat before London Town,

Five hours up and seven down.

Up I go till I end my run

At Tide-end-town, which is Teddington.

Down I come with the mud in my hands

And plaster it over the Maplin Sands……”

Rudyard Kipling


Another river, one with a richer history than ‘my’ small waterway; The Thames, lifeblood of London, with stories of seafarers and armadas, traders, tales of murder and mystery, mud-larkers and much, much more woven into its tidal waves…inspiration for poets, artists and musicians alike…

From James Abbott MacNeill Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Gold...

….to Ewan MacColl’s ode to a lost love in ‘Sweet Thames Softly Flow‘…

It’s always good to have a change of scenery, even if just for a short while; London is so very different from my ‘everyday life’…vibrant, bustling, dynamic…all the usual traits of big city living…so much to see, to do…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist                                                                      St.Paul’s Cathedral

Carolyn J Roberts Artist
The British Museum
Tate Modern
Fons Americanus – Kara Walker

Above video is a work by Peter Sedgley at the Tate Modern….

…and there’s the opportunity to reacquaint myself with an old favourite at The National Gallery...

Rembrandt, Self Portrait at The National Gallery
Rembrandt, Self Portrait at The National Gallery

Portraits aren’t usually my ‘thing’ but I love, love, love this one, and sat quite happily…as I say, reacquainting myself with the quality of Rembrandt’s work, the luminous nature of the face (my photo really doesn’t do it justice)…waiting for him to speak to me, to impart some nugget of wisdom…if I could have one portrait on my walls at home, this would be the one….Whose portrait would you love to have on your walls?

There’s also the chance to be part of history…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…watching the… Carolyn J Roberts Artist

…performance of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap‘, the world’s longest running play…. I cannot  possibly reveal ‘whodunnit’ as we are all sworn to secrecy…..

Arrivals and departures are part of each journey; one filled with anticipation, the other with a tinge of sadness….and St. Pancras Station, London has its share of artistic homages to these poignant moments…from Tracey Emin’s ‘I want my time with you’…

Tracey Emin

…to Paul Day‘s gigantic sculpture ‘The Meeting Place’…a 9 metre high bronze…evoking that sense of romance as the couple embrace under the giant clock…(remind you of something….?)

Paul Day, The Meeting Place

…with a relief around the base depicting images from the history of the train and the Tube network…

Paul Day

And no round up of the artwork on display at St. Pancras Station would be complete without Martin Jennings‘ statue of Sir John Betjeman, poet and long time admirer and advocate of Victorian architecture…(if you click on the link to Jennings’ website you can see a much clearer image than my poor attempt below…my excuse is, it was night, the lights were bright…shadows cast everywhere…)

Martin Jennings, Sir John Betjeman

Consisting of a 2.10 metre bronze sculpture on a Cumbrian slate disc inscribed with some lines from a poem by John Betjeman…

‘And in the shadowless unclouded glare,

Deep blue above us fades to whiteness where,

A misty sealine meets the wash of air…’


Where do you love to visit for some ‘big city’ inspiration?

The saying  ‘birds of a feather flock together’ is certainly appropriate for this week’s ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’…Rachel Cronin

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin Artist

Drawn to her Instagram feed by the expressive, loose quality of the work, the mark making plus her sketchbooks, it was when I read the ‘About‘ section on her website that the dots began to connect as to why I was so attracted to Rachel’s work; she loves  watercolour too, but she’s not a purist either, loving to combine the medium with ink, gouache and crayon…she follows the seasons too, and talks of fallow and fertile times…which, as those of you who follow me on social media will know, is something that resonates with me also…

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Rachel cites artists such as Kurt Jackson, Joan Eardley, David Tress, Barbara Rae, John Piper and Cy Twombly as her inspirations, although she acknowledges that it could be any number of different people – she is drawn to work that shares ‘a sense of unencumbered paint application and free mark making…’ which is something she strives to achieve in her own work.

Being the visual platform that Instagram is, I was immediately attracted to Rachel’s colour palette and mark making…and I love this combination of two of my favourite shades, along with the marks and textures…

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Equally, in the work below, the soft tones contrasted with that bright splash of turquoise, the expressive marks… I find so appealing…

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Rachel is inspired by the gentle, rolling landscape of north Oxfordshire, in particular the northern tip of the Cotswolds, with its patchwork fields and bridleways, as well as the more rugged coastline of west Wales, e.g. Borth, with its long, wild beach punctuated at extreme low tide by the petrified tree stumps, Harlech and the Ynyslas nature reserve… She finds the contrasting landscapes equally inspiring, reminding her that ‘we are merely visitors here and that, if we stand still for a minute, the ancient past is only a footstep away’…and that her ‘painting process is a way of making that footstep’….what a beautiful, evocative description…..

In this work, the soft washes and hues transport me to a summer’s evening amongst the heather and bracken strewn hills…

Watercolour gold and purple.jpg

Rachel Cronin

And who doesn’t love a peek into an artist’s sketchbook…..? Talking of books, (a very loose link I admit…..)  Rachel admits to being a bit of a bookworm, with eclectic tastes and a host of ‘comfort reads’ including the Merrily Watkins novels of Phil Rickman, The Secret History  by Donna Tartt and The Rivers of London  books by Ben Aaranovitch. Too many art books to name her favourite, the one that Rachel says ‘keeps her grounded, keeps her thinking about her process and working through the many blocks’ she places in her own way is The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. Rachel finds the technique books by Ann Blockley, Linda Kemp and Cas Holmes great practical guides.

Sketchbook Landscape.jpg

Rachel Cronin

Rachel also works in mixed media, including acrylics, gouache and dry media. She states that she ‘could not be without her Inktense crayons or her Caran d’Ache wax crayons as she finds them fantastic for adding ‘pops of colour to any kind of painting’. Rachel also admits to having a ‘very special stick that came from a tree in the garden’ which she uses to scratch into her work, as well as for applying ink and paint – ‘it’s only a stick but I would be devastated to lose it’ – I know how she feels; I have certain tools that, although nothing out of the ordinary, are like putting a glove on, they feel just right in your grasp, and you know intuitively the kind of marks they make…

I love the soft, gentle feel to this work below…and I also love the way she has co-ordinated the image setting…an idea I might just have to try…

The Quiet of Winter (2018).jpg

Rachel Cronin

I am endlessly fascinated to see and hear about artists studios and Rachel’s is no exception; she works in her parents’ conservatory where, initially she attempted to keep the ‘mess’ to a minimum, but now admits to having things ‘spilling off the shelves’… She is an ‘advocate for using whatever space you have – you don’t need a big studio space, although that would be lovely and I wouldn’t turn it down.’ Rachel has ‘painted on a table in the living room, the kitchen and in the garden’…even on her bed, although she wouldn’t recommend this, discovering that indigo does not wash out of a white linen duvet cover….

Rachel Cronin
Rachel Cronin

Do take a look at Rachel’s Instagram feed which is full of wonderful images of her work in progress, and her inspirations, along with her website…where you can see more of her finished works, plus a further peek into her sketchbook….

I would like to thank Rachel for taking the time to answer my questions, it’s very much appreciated!!

New art materials are always exciting and I can’t wait to experiment with the Art Graf graphite powder from L. Cornelissen & Son and the Nitram Liquid charcoal from Cass Art…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Something else that is inspiring me is my small collage sketchbook… along with lots of others it would appear from the viewing figures on Twitter…

So inspiring I have started another such sketchbook…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Back from the ‘Big Smoke’…my small river flows on, under rose-hued mornings, crisp with the crackle of frost…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist‘This morning the ground was sparkling

With thousands of gritty jewels

In the lowlight they were gleaming

Amongst the frosty icy pools…’

Elia Michael


I hope you have enjoyed this week’s post and have found some ideas to inspire you…and maybe have a change of scenery…if so, please let me know…

Enjoy your weekend,

Take care,



(If you would like to get up-to-date studio news, art info, offers and more of my ramblings please sign up, via the link opposite, to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter.)





Something for the Weekend…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist


‘Bare branches of each tree

on this chilly January morn

look so cold so forlorn…

waiting for each who wait to see

new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,

like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,

buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow.”

–  Nelda Hartmann,  January Morn

….and in the blink of an eye, here we are, more than halfway through January, with its usual mix of weather; dreary, dank days interspersed with mornings of the brightest blue…each highlighting the filigree fingers of bare trees…waiting for the magic…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Those of you who read my last ‘Something for the Weekend‘ post will have noticed the watery theme running through it…and one of my links this week continues this connection…(again, this is via BBC Radio so I am uncertain as to whether you will need to create an account/sign in…apologies)

A lot of my work is inspired by my love of the north Norfolk coast; when we lived in Lincolnshire, it was only a hop and a skip away, so was a place we often visited…a watery landscape; marshlands, sea lavender, geese, clinking of the boat rigging, big skies, tides…

Norfolk Memories Carolyn J Roberts ArtistNorfolk Memories – Carolyn J Roberts

The BBC Radio programme – ‘Art of Now, episode; The Tide of the Staithe’ relates both the beauty and danger of this stretch of coastline…in the programme Kevin Crossley-Holland brings a taste of what this landscape offers – from the sand dunes, salt marshes, shimmering creeks, wind song and bird cries through to the people who live and work alongside the time-clock that is the tides…with their tales of the hazardous nature of the coast, as well as the delights… A truly evocative programme that conveys a sense of what I find so inspiring…

Someone who is equally inspired by the landscape that surrounds her is this week’s ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’ Cheryl Ann Williams

Cheryl Ann Williams

I was drawn to Cheryl’s feed by her colour palette, mark making and use of collage…all things close to my own heart…

Cheryl Ann Williams                                                    Cheryl Ann Williams

What’s not to love – favourite indigo, rich green gold, turquoise, mono-printing, collage and torn edges…?

Cheryl generously agreed to answer some questions from me – a random Instagrammer – so I am very appreciative, thank you!!

Cheryl lives in the Clun Valley, an area of outstanding natural beauty on the Welsh borders, a land of rolling uplands and river valleys, ancient earthworks and drovers’ pathways…. She states on her website that her work ‘is inspired by the Welsh border landscape of her home and aims to capture her experience of walking in its beauty.’ Coincidentally, her current project focuses on a stretch of river around five miles from the Welsh border – a lady after my own heart, we have much in common…

Cheryl Ann Williams                                                    Cheryl Ann Williams

I find this colour palette so fresh and vibrant and love the marks she makes by dragging through the acrylic paint….

Cheryl lists Richard Diebenkorn as one of her favourite artists, indeed, there is a quote by Diebenkorn on her website – ‘Appreciate the conflict between abstraction and reality.’ Alongside Diebenkorn, she also cites Willem de Kooning as another influence, particularly with regard to his application of paint, and Pierre Bonnard and Barbara Rae for their handling of colour. Exhibitions by Ivon Hitchens and Elizabeth Cummings have also inspired Cheryl to experiment further with her work, both in terms of composition and abstraction.

                                                                                              ‘Restless Edge 1’ – acrylic on canvas

Cheryl Ann Williams

Like me, Cheryl loves to read (as I say, so much in common…) and has a large collection of art books. She is currently reading ‘Ninth Street Woment’ by Mary  Gabriel- the story of five women who dared to enter the male-dominated world of twentieth century abstract painting, not as muses, but as artists…Cheryl says that, although huge, it is very good – another one to add to my list!

Cheryl Ann Williams                                                   Cheryl Ann Williams

Cheryl uses sketchbooks for a variety of purposes, she admits to having several on the go; pocket-sized ones she takes out on her walks, project books where she develops her ideas, random ones for playing and larger ones for life-drawing. I love this image of one of her sketchbooks – mark making, textures, experiments and the useful notion of using paint sample cards to test colour combinations…

I always love a peek into artists’ studios…

Cheryl Ann Williams                                                    Cheryl Ann Williams

I too, have Ikea shelving, but I must admit to having ‘plan chest’ envy on seeing Cheryl’s – I think I will have to trawl around the second hand stores!

Cheryl Ann Williams                                                    Cheryl Ann Williams

Cheryl works in a variety of mediums – mainly acrylics or oils for large canvas pieces – but she also loves Daniel Smith watercolours (!!!) on rough watercolour paper, especially the way they granulate. She is also exploring the properties of some  recently acquired Liquid Charcoal – something I am keen to try!

‘Feel the Beat’ – acrylic on board – Cheryl Ann Williams

Along with her use of colours, textures and mark making, I find Cheryl’s work has a lyrical quality to it, redolent of the rolling landscape she loves so much – so do take a look at her Instagram page or visit her website for more information!!

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘Promise of Spring’

“The sky is dark and sullen

The trees look so forlorn

The days are short, a chill sets in

A winter day is born.

I yearn for spring so long ago

A day spent in the park

Among the blooming daffodil

The wren and meadowlark.

I long for gentle days of rain

A warm breeze in the air

The fragrance of a lilac tree

A day so ever fair.

Beneath the dead decaying leaves

A bud does wait anew

To reach its arms up to the sky

When winter days are through.

Beyond the bitter winds that blow

A breeze awaits to greet

To bring in sun-kissed goldenrod

And tender grass so sweet.

Just as the winter fades away

To this one hope I cling

Our God who brings the winter wind

Will surely bring the spring.”

Marilyn Ferguson

Anticipation is growing of the coming Spring but it is important not to overlook the beauty that can be found in the apparent ‘dormant winter’….small, perfectly formed jewels, often unnoticed, but always shining….

Carolyn J Roberts


Thank you for reading; I hope you found something to interest and inspire you!

Enjoy the weekend,

Take care,


If you would like to receive more arty news, offers, studio talk or just more of  my ramblings, please sign up to receive my monthly(ish) newsletter using the form opposite.

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A Gentle Start….

‘Our intention creates our reality,’

Wayne Dyer

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

December, a month filled with my Instagram Advent Calendar sale, the usual Christmas preparations, festivities and quiet remembrance, has passed, and already January is making inroads into the new year….

I have been slow to get back into making art, only managing a little intuitive splashing of paint…

Time seems to have been spent contemplating, wishing, daring, hoping…planning, setting ‘big rocks’ and intentions, deciding on a ‘word’ for 2020…

One of my ‘big rocks’ for the year is to re-do my website. In the interests of honesty, I noticed that, even after being more active on social media and Pinterest, no sales were achieved from my website bar one, leading me to the conclusion that something needed to be done, hence the re-build… So I have spent time researching options and planning ‘page layouts’….drafting and re-drafting copy, re-taking images of my work, ‘studio shots’ – (huge thanks to my OH), investigating room-setting apps…and, something I really don’t like, looking to take images of myself… I am ‘breaking myself in’ slowly as you can see…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Not being very tech-savvy, this re-building is taking a while…but eventually I will get there…

Other ‘big rocks’ include planning and running workshops and, something that is easier to achieve, the continuing de-cluttering/re-modelling of my studio space….

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

Deciding on a ‘word’ for 2020 requires reflection, consideration of what I feel holds me back and what I need to move forward, and one of my biggest issues is lack of confidence, so this year the word I have chosen ‘self-belief’…and I recently received an email that demonstrates how I need to have more ‘self-belief’…

Carolyn J Roberts ArtistI had filled the application form in, pressed send and promptly forgot about it, not having any expectations of being successful…just goes to show!

So it’s onwards, making plans, noting dates for applications…as well as developing my art, which is what I want to get back to tomorrow…

If you want more art news, offers or more of my general ramblings, please sign up to receive my monthly(is) newsletter via the form opposite.

Something for the Weekend

Carolyn J Roberts Artist‘January

The days are short,

The sun a spark

Hung thin between

the dark and dark.


The sky is low,

The wind is grey…’

John Updike

….yet, there are hints of colour even on the dreariest of days…

And so a new year, a new decade begins…time, a human concept; the river continues to flow…

Carolyn J Roberts Artist‘Time has no divisions to mark it’s passages, there is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire pistols’,

Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

The festivities are over, the decorations packed away; intentions for the coming year are set…January…

“The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer.  Minute by minute they lengthen out.  It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change.  It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a
twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour,”
–  Vita Sackville-West

As ever, one of my intentions is to read…and this week’s book is…

The ‘blurb’ on the back cover reads – ‘Accompanied by whales and birds and seals Philip Hoare embarks on an odyssey from suburbia into the unknown, to discover human and animal stories of the sea.

Along the way, he encounters drowned poets and eccentric artists, wild utopians and national heroes – humans who challenge their landbound lives through the animal and the elemental, always drawn back to the water, sometimes fatally, forever lost and found on the infinite sea.’

Regular readers of my posts will know that I love the sea and so understand why this book might appeal to me! Especially when you read descriptive passages such as this:

‘The geese lift off into the sky, sharp black shapes against the white-grey. As they fly across my field of vision, the vapour rolls below them, driven by the light. Layers of mist move one way; others in the opposite direction. Dissolving and reforming, resolving and dissipating, they swirl and dance like the mist on an English river on an autumn morning.

They might be airy icebergs, or the spoutings of spectral whales, or the ragged sails of a ghostly armada. They seem to echo the currents blow. Then behind the white wisps even more attenuated plumes rise and twist like water spouts. There’s so much smoke on the water it looks as though the sea is on fire,’ (p.114, RisingTideFallingStar, Philip Hoare)

Partly biographical, the book is also full of tales and adventures of the sea and insights as to how the water has influenced poets, artists and authors alike!

There appears to be a theme in my selections this week, as my ‘Instagram Artist of the Week’ is Nicki Gwynn-Jones…a photographer who, in 2016 moved to Orkney, an island on the 59th parallel, where the wild Atlantic Ocean collides with the equally stormy North Sea… On her website Nicki describes Orkney as a place where ‘life has always been shaped by wind and water.’ She is drawn to the elements; to the tempests, the sea-haar, the flora and fauna…and it was her stunning images that drew me to her feed…

I can only imagine the hours of waiting, crouching, no doubt often in inclement weather, to capture these photos…

Nicki Gwynn-Jones            Nicki Gwynn-Jones

Nicki Gwynn-Jones             Nicki Gwynn-Jones

I love the way Nicki has captured the power, the dance of the waves, in beautiful close up, with the light reflected on it’s mirrored surface…

She also explains on her website how Orkney is a land steeped in mythology and folk tales…and in her images of flowers I can almost imagine the faeries hiding amongst the delicate blooms…

Nicki Gwynn-Jones             Nicki Gwynn-Jones

Nicki Gwynn-Jones             Nicki Gwynn-Jones

Being so far north, Orkney experiences a perpetual twilight in summer; the colours and hues beautifully reflected in Nicki’s work…

Nicki Gwynn-Jones             ‘Sparkles and the red hour’ – Nicki Gwynn-Jones

Nick Gwynn-Jones             ‘…the magic of the red hour…’ – Nicki Gwynn-Jones

January, a time of hibernation, a time to hunker down, but also to anticipate the small signs of Spring…and this photograph is therefore particularly apt…

Nicki Gwynn-Jones             ‘Spring is coming to Orkney!’ – Nick Gwynn-Jones

….and yes, I can also see faeries dancing through the ethereal mists…

My final selection from Nicki’s Instagram feed is this image – whenever I get the opportunity I love beachcombing, gathering treasures… I particularly love the way Nicki’s work highlights the often overlooked details of the landscape, the beauty in the mix of textures and colours…I can almost smell the ocean…

Nicki Gwynn-Jones             ‘Ice on the beach…’ – Nick Gwynn-Jones

Do pop over and follow her Instagram feed as well as her website, where there are galleries including, not just Nicki’s photographs of Orkney, but also images from Harris, the Caingorms as well as Florida!

And the connection between my selections continue with this BBC Radio programme ‘Wild Music‘ – (it’s only available for a limited period; also I am not sure whether you will need  sign in to listen or if it’s available overseas – apologies) – a collaboration between composer Erland Cooper and poet John Burnside…

“Earlier this year, the Scottish poet and writer John Burnside received a CD of Solan Goose by musician and composer Erland Cooper. These “sonic postcards” of Erland’s native Orkney are inspired by local dialect, birds, landscapes and the sea. For John Burnside, it reconnected him with nature in a profound way.

The two meet for the first time on Orkney while Erland is working on the final album of his Orkney trilogy. Braving heavy rain and gale-force winds, Erland takes John to locations that inspire his work.

Scattered across the Orkney islands are some of the UK’s best preserved neolithic monuments, designated a UNESCO world heritage site. John feels a direct connection to the stone-age communities who lived here 5000 years ago, and a sense that those people lived really close to the earth, the sea and the sky. We visit the mysterious Ring of Brodgar, the neolithic village of Skara Brae, a sacred cairn, and the Bay of Skale. John responds by composing five new poems.

Sheltering from the storm, Erland and John entertain each other by swapping their favourite Orkney myths and legends – featuring seal people, a trip to faerie land and disappearing islands. These stories also weave their way into both artists’ work.”

Produced by Victoria Ferran
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4

Seeing the images from Nicki Gwynn-Jones, hearing Erland Cooper’s haunting music along with John Burnside’s evocative words has made me add Orkney to my bucket list of places to visit!!

Carolyn J Roberts Artist

‘Of winter’s lifeless world each tree

Now seems a perfect part;

Yet each one holds summer’s secret

Deep down within its heart,’

Charles G. Slater