2020 The Year In Review

Well what a year that turned out to be, I doubt that anyone could have predicted that!

When lockdown first started, nobody could have guessed that it would go on for so long.

Initially for me, it was just like a normal ‘down time’ period between mural projects, a time when I am stuck at home with no work coming in (and no money). So I didn’t panic, I just went along with it and tried to look at alternative ways of working. It was quite pleasant to have some time to slow down and relax, knowing that, for once, everyone else was in the same situation.

I decided to treat the whole thing as an opportunity to produce some art that would be unique to this time, so I started to document events by painting things that were ‘out of the norm’. One of my first pieces being ‘Bog Roll with Coronavirus Wallpaper’ to represent the panic-buying that went on at the beginning and the 3 week quest I had to buy some toilet roll, as we only tended to buy one pack at a time and ours was nearly all used up!

Bog Roll with Coronavirus Wallpaper

I had always wanted to make some online tutorials to share my working techniques with artists who were starting out and I knew that, in normal circumstances, I would never get around to doing this as I didn’t have the right camera, lighting, set up, etc. I would have spent way to long writing scripts, that I wouldn’t have been able to follow while I was painting and then would have been way too critical of my own work and the way I had portrayed it and would never have got them edited to a standard where I would have been happy to share them with the public. But an opportunity came up for me to share my studio sessions as live watch party sessions on Facebook on behalf of the VC Gallery in Pembrokeshire, as they were no longer able to hold classes in-house. I then downloaded each session, edited it and uploaded it to YouTube. Nearly a year later and I now hold a resource stock of over 60 videos that can be used for artists starting out or as a reference source for various techniques. You can see them by clicking the link below:

As the months glided by, I discovered I had so much free time and started to think about what else I could do with it!

I started to enter a few painting competitions and actually won first prize in The Big Lockdown Art Challenge Wales with my entry entitled ‘Celebration’ which was a representation of life after lockdown.

Celebration

In April, as part of my live watch party sessions, I produced 2 ‘Coronavirus Collages’ representing keyworkers and messages about them from recent news items.

  

The postal worker who posed for the painting was my sister, she asked if I could donate the original painting to her depot, which I did. This then went on to get featured inside Courier Magazine, the Royal Mail in-house magazine that goes out monthly to all staff.

On Instagram a new initiative entitled ‘Portraits for NHS Heroes’ was started, whereby artists offered their services for free by placing an ad on the page and then waited for responses from NHS keyworkers.

I decided to give this a go as I had quite a lot of spare time and was inundated with requests. I managed to do 3 before I got too busy with other projects;

Clair Miller, dietitian working on the acute wards at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen.

Janet Davies, a midwife who retired on 3rd July from Singleton Hospital Maternity Unit, after giving 40 years to the mums of Swansea.
Clair Miller, a dietitian working on the acute wards at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen
Kim Davies, an ambulance technician in Scotland.

I also came up with the idea of thanking as many keyworkers as I could in my piece called ‘Suicide Squad of South Wales’.

Suicide Squad of South Wales: Keyworkers employed to do the most dangerous jobs on the frontline, whilst protecting the public from the risk of contracting the Corona Virus.
Their everyday job: to keep civilisation ticking over.

In June we briefly came out of Lockdown for a short few weeks and I managed to paint my one and only mural of 2020. Again thanking keyworkers, this was painted on the garages on the corner of Augustine Way, Haverfordwest. Pembrokeshire, working with the VC Gallery. The rainbow was a symbol of lockdown, as it turns the corner it begins to break up and becomes a flock of birds to represent getting our freedom back.

Since then we have been in various versions of lockdowns and the messages became more and more confusing, which inspired me to produce a piece called ‘(DON’T) GO TO WORK’ featuring Boris Johnson and all the differing messages that we have been given related to lockdown:

As we now enter 2021, the future is still so uncertain. We are still in lockdown here in South Wales and as yet don’t know how much longer this will last.

I am still continuing with my online art sessions, as well as the Facebook live watch parties every Wednesday at 12:30, I now hold two Zoom tutorials each week. The first on Tuesday Mornings at 10am until 12noon and the second on Wednesday afternoons at 2pm until 4pm and they can be accessed through Ticket Tailor at this link:

Buy tickets for The VC Gallery (tickettailor.com)

Here’s to a brighter future!

The Empress of All I Survey – Part 1 by Kitty Parsons

http://pembrokeshire.online/2020/07/seeing-yourself-1

The Empress of All I Survey – Part 1

Artist Nina Camplin

Have you ever thought of commissioning your portrait from an artist?

I have. It started as an idea for my 60th birthday. I thought I would like to make a collage myself, of myself, surrounded by each of my friends. There was one stipulation: I wanted everyone to give me their image as they would like to be remembered, showing something of their personalities.

My friends were horrified!

I didn’t realise for some years why no one came up with the goods. It was while doing a photography course that I discovered how difficult it is to find people who are happy with the sight of themselves.

Using myself as a model

Eventually, on that course, I decided to use myself as a model and it was a truly liberating experience. I made the absolute most of studio time and eventually took hundreds of photos of myself, many nude and very few flattering.

It’s interesting that so many of us, both men and women, have an idealised sense of how we should look, and very few are content or even objective about how we look right now.

Another self-portrait

When have you come across an image of yourself that you thought was hideous at the time it was taken but now… well, it looks better than any recent images? And what about other people’s perception of your picture?

My dad loved some publicity photographs I had done by a professional photographer in my early twenties for a theatre company I was working with. I still have them and they still freak me out.

Some of those publicity photos… EEEEK!

I was lovely, as all twentysomethings are, with glowing skin and large, dark eyes, but only I know that the look on my face in all of those images is fear and dread. I could never tell my lovely dad that the photographer spent the whole session trying to get me to take my clothes off, and although I didn’t, I was too afraid to leave until he got fed up with pestering me and closed the session.

There were a lot of experiences like that in my life… being afraid to speak up, being afraid to stand up for myself, until I was so angry or upset that I just came across as desperate or mad. Poor mental health, anxiety and depression swallowed huge chunks of my wellbeing, alienated me from others and taught me huge, painful lessons about the world and my place in it.

Before I became really unwell

Over many years I developed other more physical health issues, some from injuries acquired in my acting days and some auto-immune. They affected my muscles and joints and made me exhausted until, by my late fifties, I was struggling to walk and manage the job I loved.

I developed strategies and philosophies that helped me keep going, and when I finally had to leave my job, I had already decided that wherever I am, whatever I look like, whatever I can do or not do was how it is! 

When I had weeks when I couldn’t walk, I told myself it would come back or it wouldn’t, and I would learn to live with it. When I saw in my reflection a bloated, old person with hollow eyes and no discernible chin, I told myself: you will get some vaguely human shape back again or you won’t. It is how it is!

I adopted the attitude that I had earned the title of Empress. I might not be much but, sitting up in bed, exhausted and in pain, I could look around my room and tell myself I was Empress of All I Surveyed.

So, at 66, no longer glowing with health and beauty, and grieving for my dear friend who had just died of cancer days before her 61st birthday, I looked at my bank account and thought: I want to be painted by someone who will see me exactly as I am right now and help me celebrate it, because – who knows? – something has to get us sooner or later, and none of us is immune to death.

I was pointed in the direction of the lovely Nina Camplin mural artist. And, well… if you are interested, I will tell you the rest of the story soon…

Nina working at Pier Head, Swanage

Nina Camplin is a mural artist living in South Wales She specialises in trompe l’oeil, which is a painting or design intended to create a visual illusion.

 She loves to challenge perceptions of space, creating scenes of faked realities, such as windows, doors and broken walls that open up the flat surface of the wall to create an optical illusion of an additional dimension beyond. To see more of NIna’s work or to commission a painting, go to her website : https://ninacamplin.co.uk/

Suicide Squad of South Wales

I first came up with this idea for this after seeing a post on Facebook by a postal worker:

I started looking at the parallel’s between keyworkers and the original DC Comic characters of the Suicide Squad.

Suicide Squad: A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated super-villains to form a defensive task force. Their first mission: save the world from the apocalypse.

Anti heroes who put their lives at risk to save the world!

Until the onset of the Corona Virus and several months of Lockdown, our keyworkers were very much under valued. But these were the jobs that held our communities together when everything else was shut down. They risked their lives every time they went to work, when the majority of the population were under instruction to stay at home, without these keyworkers our civilisation would have fallen apart.

I wanted to make a piece of work to show how much they have been appreciated throughout this whole episode, so I replaced the original Suicide Squad characters with real people who were keyworkers throughout this time.

Suicide Squad of South Wales: Keyworkers employed to do the most dangerous jobs on the frontline, whilst protecting the public from the risk of contracting the Corona Virus.
Their everyday job: to keep civilisation ticking over.

From left to right:

Aimee Monk
Supermarket employee at Sainsbury’s, Pontypridd

Judith Griffiths
Senior care assistant The Laurels Care Home, Aberdare. Rhondda Cynon Taff

Simon James.
Recycling and Refuse Operative for Pembrokeshire County Council.

Alan Davies-Camplin
Butcher at Andrew Rees Butchers, Narberth

Paul Aston Jones
Keyworker in the Welsh Ambulance Service, Frontline EMS in Pembrokeshire 

Rhodri Davies-Camplin
Primary school teacher for Newport County Council

Extra duties performed during lockdown:
*Delivering food parcels, free school meals, learning packs (including pens, pencils, paper etc for our underprivileged families).
*Working in the hub for key worker children.
*very regular contact with pupils and parents through seesaw (online learning tool), phone calls, video chats.

Terri Camplin
Postal Worker for Royal Mail,Aberdare. Rhondda Cynon Taff

Delivering more parcels than the run up to Christmas as people couldn’t go shopping they ordered everything online.

Nadia Lloyd
PCSO Dyfed Powys Police Pembroke Dock Pembrokeshire

Educating and enforcing new Covid-19 laws and rules brought in by Welsh Assembly

Barry John MBE
Military Charity peer mentor and Founder of the VC Gallery Organisation, Pembrokeshire and West Wales

Extra duties performed during lockdown:
Actively making sure our Veterans, their families and the community have support during lockdown. With food, mental health support, medical liaisions and hospital admissions. Making sure our members are still active creatively and mentally during the pandemic.

Art Tutorials Now Available on YouTube

Throughout the Lockdown period of the Corona Virus Pandemic I produced a number of Live Watch Party Art Workshops on Facebook.

I am now in the process of editing them and uploading them to YouTube to make them more accessible to anyone who is interested in watching them.

Please bear in mind that these videos were recorded live on my phone and were made with the intention that people could work with the limited materials they may have lying around at home during the Lockdown.

I will add links as I get them uploaded to YouTube, earliest is at the bottom, most recent at the top of the list:

 

Lockdown Art Sessions

As so many people are now on lockdown during the Coronavirus panic, I decided to share some art sessions with everyone if they are bored and looking for something to fill their time.

For me this is just what I would call ‘Downtime’, a period between commissioned work, when I fill my time at home by doing what amuses me…..painting!

So I have created a Facebook group where I can share Live Watch Parties which anyone can see, by clicking this link and joining https://www.facebook.com/groups/651932192261904

These sessions will be kept at quite a basic level to suit all ages and abilities, there will be no specialist materials, just use what you have to hand! If you have always wanted to have a go at drawing/painting but were too embarrassed to go to a class, now you can do it in the comfort of your own home!

Equally, if you have kids at home who are bored, this may be a great way to entertain them!

My first session will be held on Monday 23rd March at 11:00 GMT, but will be available to watch any time after if this time is not convenient for you. We will be painting/drawing sunflowers.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1375385269314917

THERE WILL BE NO CHARGES OR HIDDEN FEES FOR THESE SESSIONS!!
(I was painting at home on my own anyway and just felt it would be good to share!)