And the saga continues! We still have a huge number of Coronavirus cases spreading across the country, with new strains developing. Will things ever go back to ‘normal’?

Throughout 2021 I continued to host Zoom painting tutorials on behalf of the VC Gallery every week. Some fantastic work was produced by my students throughout the year!

In March 2021, I moved house, which was a bit chaotic, trying to find a man with a van during lockdown, but we managed in the end. The new house needed quite a lot of work doing to it, but it’s slowly coming along.

I now have my own studio, which makes life a lot easier than trying to work from a table in the living room, which I was doing previously.

Photo courtesy of Paula Garrard

I managed to complete 3 small murals this year. I found them more of a struggle than I have in the past, due to the development of arthritis in my hips. Bending, sitting and standing are all painful after a short period of time, but I felt a huge accomplishment at managing to finish these, even if they took me a little longer than I am used to.

April 2021, Freshwater West sunset on a garage wall at Cranford Cottage, Hundleton, Pembrokeshire
June 2021, Wall outside of Caravan 1, West Angle Bay Caravan Park
September 2021, Harry’s Room, Pembroke

I also had a few commissions over the year:

I also had some time to paint some canvasses for my own personal fun! These 2 are my personal favourite pieces of 2021, firstly a tribute to John Lydon and secondly Carmargue Horses:

Anger Is An Energy
Carmargue Horses

It will be interesting to see what 2022 has in store!

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.


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


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/