• An Afternoon With Jackie Morris- 10th June

    Posted by Suzanne Somers

    We are excited to announce that Jackie Morris, critically acclaimed author and illustrator, will be spending the afternoon with us here at The Golden Sheaf Gallery on Saturday June 10th from 1-5pm ...and you are invited to join us!

    The afternoon will provide a rare and wonderful opportunity to meet Jackie in person and watch her painting one of her remarkable watercolours. We are lucky to house a variety of her original paintings and prints at the Golden Sheaf, which will be on display for your pleasure and are available for purchase.

    You are, of course, welcome to bring along any pre-purchased books for Jackie to sign; alternatively we stock a wide selection of her beautifully illustrated tales, which she will happily personalise for you on the day.

    So please do come along and share this unique event with us, we would be delighted to welcome you.

    ❤️ Love, the Gallery 

  • Meet Thomas Haskett - A Plein Air Pembrokeshire Painter

    Posted by Anna-Marie Young

    It's rare that an artist walks in off the street and shows you work that takes your breath away. Especially when that artist is painting places which are known to nearly all of us, but so it was with Thomas Haskett who we recently started exhibiting.

    We so enjoyed getting to know him a little better and hope you do too!

     

    Can you introduce yourself and describe your work?

    Hello, I'm Thomas Haskett, a young painter of impressionistic, and representational works in oils. I mostly like to paint plein air landscapes and seascapes, and my primary focus is capturing and conveying light, place and atmosphere. 
     
     Where do you work from? What is your studio like?
     
    I like to paint outside as much as possible, so I only really use the studio for preparatory and finishing purposes. It's pretty small, but I like to think that my real studio is outside, which is rather exciting!
     

    What is your preferred medium and why?
     
    Oils are my favourite medium, they took me a while to get into as I was used to making etchings and working in watercolours, and it was quite a shift. I like oils, because I can speed up their drying time, and get an awful lot of information down in a fairly swift and efficient fashion. With watercolours, you only get one chance to get things right, but oils are much easier to alter and adjust.
    Oils are also nice and portable, which really suits my working practice, and the effects you can create seem limitless, which is constantly inspiring.
     
    What is your earliest memory of painting?
     
    I've been painting and drawing ever since I was able to hold a pen, or a brush. As a child, I was obsessed with tractors, so that's most probably what I would've been concentrating on in the early stages of my career!
     
    What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
     
    The chance to show my work at the Golden Sheaf, of course! Also, receiving positive feedback from contemporary painters that I really admire. That's one of the nice things about social media; the ability to connect with one’s influences in a way that wasn't really possible before.
     


    Do you have a favourite piece from your own collections?
     
    I have one or two pieces that mark a turning point where I've switched medium or method, and they mean quite a lot to me. Aside from that, my favourite paintings have all sold, and whilst I'm pleased that they've gone to new homes, I do miss them.  
     
    Which artists or designers do you admire locally and nationally?
     
    There’s so many, I could spend all day listing them and still not manage to mention everyone!
    Locally, I really like Gareth Thomas' acrylics, Claudia Williams' figurative work, Aneurin Jones' Welsh Cobs, Matthew Wood’s interior scenes, David Tress, Donald McIntyre, Kyffin Williams, Augustus and Gwen John, and obviously, everyone’s work at the Golden Sheaf!
    Nationally, there are so many people that I really admire, so in no particular order, here are just a few; Andrew Tozer, Stanhope Forbes, Fred Cuming, Arnesby Brown, Lucy kemp Welch, Ken Howard, Alfred Munnings, Henry Scott Tuke, James MacKeown, Walter Langley, Edward Seago, John Piper, Hockney, Euan Uglow, Henry Scott Tuke, Peter Lanyon, Kurt Jackson, Laura Knight, William Morris etc.
     
    What do you want people who own your work to feel when they look at a piece of yours?
     
    I hope that they can feel some of the anticipation, and the excitement that led me to paint the scene initially. I'd also like them to get some of the joy that comes from painting, and making something out of nothing.


     
    What brought you to Pembrokeshire, and what is your favourite place here?


    A love of people and of place. It's really hard to narrow down just one favourite place, there are just so many amazing spots! May I say the sea? I absolutely adore being in it, on it, or next to it.
     
    Have you ever had a complete painting disaster?
     
    More than I care to remember! Painting outside brings with it many risks; the wind, the rain, the light, insects, sand, livestock etc. I'm generally really passive, but I once got so frustrated with a painting which wasn’t working, that I threw it on the ground! It's comes from being such a perfectionist, I think.

    Any advice for an aspiring artist?
     
    However you work, it's really important not to stop working, even if it's just a little sketch, or some colour notes; always do something creative every day. It's so easy to stop, or become distracted, but it can be so hard to start again. Also, it's perfectly OK to look at other artists, and admire them, but never compare yourself to them.

     

    Thanks so much for your time Thomas, if you'd like to see more of Tom's work, it's on show in the upstairs gallery.

    -The Golden Sheaf
     

  • Meet David Wilson - The photographer that captures Wales

    Posted by Anna-Marie Young

    David Wilson has been one of most popular artists for years, his black and white images capture the Welsh landscape in it's most intimate moments. His work has inspired poets and writers and recently an entire book, whilst his photographs grace the pages of books, and walls across the country.

    We caught up with the man himself for a chat about how he still feels about Wales after all these years.

     

    Can you introduce yourself and describe your work?

    My name is David Wilson and I am a fine art photographer specialising in black and white images of the Welsh landscape, in particular my home county of Pembrokeshire.

     

    How often do you visit a place or subject before you photograph it?

    It’s mostly dependent on the weather conditions. If fortune is smiling down on me the elements will be perfect first visit. Quite often though I can see the composition in my mind’s eye but the sky just doesn’t work.  I try to avoid clear blue skies wherever possible as they’re featureless and pretty boring. So I’ll simply return when the weather is more appropriate.

    Your photography recently inspired a book comprising several short crime stories, how did you find handing over the interpretation of your photographs to others?

    I was very flattered that a group of eminent writers should want to use my images as the catalyst for a book of short stories. Some photographers may have found it unnerving that a group of writers should see such dark and murderous intent in their images that it would inspire a collection of crime stories; I actually saw it as an endorsement of what I do! My images are meant to be dark and brooding, causing the viewer to contemplate a narrative that may be quite bleak! I think darker images with extremes of contrast are more emotive and evocative.

    You’re known for your black and white photography, but more recent pieces have been in colour- which do you prefer?

    I prefer to work in black and white but occasionally I take a photograph that works better in colour; not very often though!


    Where in Pembrokeshire is your favourite place to photograph, or where has the most interesting light?

    I have two areas of Pembrokeshire that provide endless inspiration; the Preseli hills and the coastal strip and hinterland between Fishguard and St Davids. I’m drawn to the rugged nature of the landscape and the stories in the buildings; if only those stones could speak.

    Do you have a favourite piece from your own collections?

    I have a number of images that I am particularly proud of. The photographs tend to have buildings in them. ‘Treleddyd Fawr’ cottage near St Davids, on the cover of my first book ‘Pembrokeshire’, still has the power to move me even after eight years. The same goes for ‘The Abandoned Farm’ in the Preseli Hills. Then love him or loath him there’s ‘The Bull’, a portrait with a difference

    What artists do you admire locally and nationally?

    If there is one artist whose work I admire more than any other it is the late John Knapp-Fisher. I love the harsh abstractions and bare outlines that characterised his work. He understood what the Pembrokeshire landscape is all about; occasional bright sunny days but more often than not, challenging days when the weather is heavy and less than helpful but conditions that add so much to any painting or indeed photograph.

    What do you want people who own your work to feel when they look at a photograph of yours?

    When people look at my work I want them to immerse themselves in the image and ask questions. I photograph a lot of buildings in the landscape as buildings tell stories about people; their lives, families, hopes and aspirations. So I want people to put their own interpretation on the image and create their own unique narrative.

    What was your first camera?

    My first camera was a 35mm Ricoh. Don’t ask me the model; it was over thirty years ago and ended up in a swimming pool while on holiday with my mates!

    A lot of photographers are asked to lend their photographs for free, to magazines or websites, which would be virtually unheard of with a piece of fine art- how do you feel about this?

    If people want to give the rights to their work away for free that’s their choice. I would say value your efforts and demand payment!

    Have you ever had a complete photographic disaster?

    Thankfully I have never had a complete photographic disaster. I appreciate that’s probably not the answer people would like to hear but there we have it. Of course, now the question’s been asked, I will undoubtedly have one very soon…..eeek!

     

    Thanks David!- Lets hope you can keep that disaster at bay for a little longer!

    Love, The Gallery

  • Meet Emma Iles - The Cushion Designer Behind Seaforth Designs

    Posted by Anna-Marie Young
    We just adore Emma's work, ever since we met the lovely characters that find their way on to her designs, they've found a permanent home on our sofa too! You can shop her collection here.
    Can you introduce yourself and describe your work?
     I am Emma Iles, founder of Seaforth Designs, a countryside and coastal-inspired cushion company, which features British favourites such as a fox, hare, pheasant and a range of lovely coastal birds

    How did you begin sewing as a girl? What was your first ‘make’?
    My mother and aunts always sewed and made their own clothes and outfits, so it was natural for me to learn to create as well. I cant remember exactly the first thing I made, but I can remember helping my mum cut out and make a 'ClothKits' dress for my seventh birthday. 

    How many times do you sketch and cut out a design before it’s perfect- or do designs just drop into your head?
    My designs can either be instantaneous sketches which work straight away, or be a 'work in progress' that develop over a period of time. Either way, it gives me great satisfaction to then be able to transfer them into fabric designs which then come to life on a cushion.
     

    You’ve been featured in Country Living and at The Country Living Fair several times now, do you still get excited? 
    As a young teenager, my friends would be reading 'Just Seventeen' magazine on the bus but I would be studiously flicking through Country Living magazine so it definitely still remains a great thrill to see my designs being featured in their magazine.

    What would you say to those people who are passionate about making but aren’t sure whether to make that step into making it a business?
    Make sure the product is as professionally finished as possible. Your friends may say 'that's great, you should sell them' but ask them to be as genuine and honest as possible to determine if this is a viable product to sell. Then, go for it! What have you got to lose?

    You’ve only been trading as Seaforth Designs for a few years- what was your first moment where you felt like you’d ‘made it’?
    Being invited to showcase my designs at the Country Living Spring Fair in 2014, with 20 other chosen newcomers. Having been a seamstress for over 20 years, this was my first realisation that Seaforth Designs could be successful.

    Being creative, or having a creative outlet is so important to your happiness, did you feel a loss when you stopped sewing for pleasure and made the move to sewing for business?
    I have been lucky that creating and making my cushions has remained a pleasure and not felt like a chore. As I hand make each cushion individually, I hope my customers feel that the item has been specially made for them plus I get to sew for pleasure on my days off! 

    We know the wildlife and history in Pembrokeshire has inspired your designs, but who are the artists and fellow makers you admire?
    Having worked for the William Morris Society doing curtain restoration, I admire the way he taught himself each craft and design skill before asking anyone to make something for him. Of the current designers, I particularly like Angie Lewin and Hannah Nunn.

    Do you have a favourite piece from your own collections?
    I recently created the Twilight collection and the Leaping Hare has become a particular favourite. The Dunlin design is also a favourite, so much so that we chose it to become the Seaforth Designs symbol.

    Do you ever worry you’ll run out of designs?! Or are you always brimming with ideas?
    Yes, I sometimes worry that I may run out of designs, but at the same time, my head is always spinning with ideas and is hard not to be inspired by the nature and scenery around me.

    What would you like people to feel when they own a piece of your work?
    That it has been made especially for them, which it has, from my sewing room in Pembrokeshire to wherever they may be all over the world.
      Thanks Emma! Love, The Gallery
    1. Meet Jackie Morris - Award Winning Author & Artist

      Posted by Anna-Marie Young

       

      Jackie is one of our most treasured and talked about artists here at The Golden Sheaf, and when she was deservingly nominated for the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Award for Something About a Bear, we caught up with her to find our about how these magical books come to life. 

      Jackie is currently working on a new book and was kind enough to give us an exclusive look at the illustrations for The White Fox. We hope you love them as much as we do.

      Can you introduce yourself and describe your work?

      My name is Jackie Morris. I am one of those people who loved to draw as a child, but unlike many, as I moved into adulthood I didn’t stop.

      I can’t pinpoint the moment in childhood when I realised that grown ups had things called ‘jobs’, but I do know that from the age of 6 I said I wanted to be an artist. It was all I ever wanted. To draw. To colour things.

      You’ve recently been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Award for Something About a Bear, congratulations! How does it feel to be among such established children’s authors?

      Strange question. Because they are all my contemporaries, and I am also an established author.

      There’s an odd line I walk in my head. On the one hand I produce books and have to have the confidence to send my work to my publishers and then once the book is done I have to be out there promoting it, trying to say why it’s good and people should buy it. On the other hand I look at the list of people on the shortlist and I think, ‘Oh my word, Chris Riddell, he draws like an angel. Footpath Flowers, wow, what an astonishing book, so beautiful. Are they going to turn around and find out that mine’s a fluke, shouldn’t be there....’ It’s the same with festivals. I see all my contemporaries at festivals and I’m on there too. My mum summed it up for me once when she said, "I’ve looked at who is going to Cheltenham Festival and there’s some really famous people there, did you know? And you of course." I think there is a name for feeling like this. It’s called ‘impostor syndrome’. Many of us have it. That feeling we are going to be found out for not being worthy of the place we hold in society.

      Although I work mostly in the children’s book part of the book industry there is nothing child like about it. It’s a fierce, hard and competitive industry. I’ve worked so hard for years learning my craft and my trade and it feels, I have to say, utterly wonderful to be recognized with the honour of being on the Greenaway shortlist. But more than that, in the very crowded world of children’s publishing the shortlisting has given me a platform to talk about the plight of bears, and also other wild creatures. I take great pride in being the only non-fiction title on the Greenaway and Carnegie list, while at the same time wishing there were more non-fiction titles beside me. It’s not a place I ever expected to be.

      Pembrokeshire, and Wales, has a huge storytelling tradition- do you feel this feeds into your own storytelling or is the oral tradition coincidental to your narrative?

      I think the oral tradition should weave its way through all picture books. They are meant to be shared, to be read aloud. The Welsh language has a rhythm about it that has always been easy on my ear, though I pick up languages so slowly. My language is graphic, in the real meaning of the word. It’s watercolour, pencil, it’s mark making on paper.

      When you begin, do the words inform the paintings or do the characters you paint tell you their story?

      Stories come from many places, watching a cat dream, seeing a black fox, meeting a white fox. The idea for the bears book came out of simple self indulgence. I love bears and wanted to paint them. It has it’s roots in another book I did years ago. But it became something much more in the making. And researching the book was hard. Man’s inhumanity to man never ceases to amaze me, and if we hold our own species in such contempt you can only begin to imagine the horrors we impose on animals. Bear, so like us in many ways, suffer so much at our hands but you can’t put the kind of darkness like that into a picture book. What I have tried to do is to link the toy that so many children have, the teddy, with the real bear, and hope that through my book I can help to shape a generation of children who will love and respect the wild and wild creatures, and as I said it does give me a platform for talking about how humans relate to wild bears.

      But how can you talk about the hunting of bears, and decapitation for trophies, an act which takes place every day in the 21st century? About bears kept in cages and taught to perform? About dancing bears in India who have a hole drilled though their snouts and their teeth removed and are then taught to dance? And the worst horror in my mind, the bear bile farms? The chopping off of bear paws for Chinese medicine? The trade in wild animals? This is the darkness that lies behind Something About a Bear. It’s hard to talk about such things with children.

      When I was a child David Attenborough made television programs that taught me so much about the wild world, nature, tooth and claw and fierceness. He brought the wild world into my home. I try to do that just a little with my books.

      And that doesn’t really answer the question asked, but I guess the simple, direct answer is that the words and the pictures twine around each other and that is the pleasure of both writing and illustrating a book.

      Have you ever been completely struck by a story or a character and unable to paint or write them? If so, what happens? Do they stay around your head until you have stories for them?

      I have a story called “The Panda’s Child”. It’s a good story. Let me tell you something about the process of making a book. This is how it works for me.

      I have an idea. The idea is exciting. It paints images in my mind’s eye. They are elusive, vibrant, like dreaming.

      I sell the idea to a publisher, get a contract, an advance, and then I have to work on the book.

      So, take for example The White Fox. This is a book I am working on with Barrington Stoke at the moment. I found the story in Seattle and it’s based on a true story. For a couple of years it fermented somewhere in the back of my mind. This was the first book that I was commissioned to write as well as illustrate. Usually I do the words first and sell those but here I sent a synopsis to Barrington Stoke, after a series of emails about working with them and various ideas.

      I wrote the words, and the story grew, evolved, changed in the writing and became something else and more as the characters took over and found their place among the letters. I sent the text to BS, heart in mouth, fearful that they would say, ‘well, we didn’t expect that, can you do it properly now please’, but they edited it and then it was time to illustrate and I hit a brick wall. I couldn’t draw, couldn’t find the characters ( apart from the fox), didn’t know how to draw any more, tried different ways, a looser style, panicked, felt sick, cried a bit... and worked, and worked, sometimes just sitting staring into space trying not to panic, trying to see the way.

      And then I remembered that I had struggled in the same way with East of the Sun, West of the Moon, with Tell Me a Dragon, with The Wild Swans. And then I started sketching, and now I am painting, holding my nerve, hoping all will be well.

      It’s hard. And sometimes I don’t find the way in. I still have the text for The Panda’s Child, because so far I have failed to find the way in with this one. But I have an idea. There are keys that I find along the way that unlock the doors that bind and block, but the biggest monster that sits on my shoulders is the self doubt impostor monster. I think one day I will draw it.

       Did you tell your own children stories you made up, or did you read to them?

      I read my children picture books. I didn’t make up stories. I did sometimes test out my texts on them. I seldom read them my own books. I did sometimes feel guilty when I was reading to them, because part of my mind was always looking and learning, what made a book work for them.

      I loved that close intimacy of the circle of arms, and child and book. Love the opening of a picture book, which for me is like the curtains opening at a theatre or cinema. I love the space you inhabit when you become lost in a book. It’s like stepping into another world.

       What was the first children’s book you remember owning?

      I still have the Treasure Book of Animals. And a big collection of stories with pictures I never liked, ( It’s funny how that style of working has returned and is becoming very fashionable). We had very few books when I was a child, but we did have libraries, which was brilliant, and libraries were where I learned to read. My library tickets were a fascination for me, and I loved the date stamps, and seeing all the dates when a book had previously been taken out from the library.

      Do you have a favourite piece from your own collections? 

      I have a beautiful drawing by Mary Fedden, a fantastic piece of artwork I pulled out of James Mayhew’s bin that he had torn up in desperation ( to remind me that we can’t always be the best judge of our work) and a lovely Evelyn Williams drawing and some Katherine O’Kelle birds. And The Snow Leopard front cover, which I won’t sell.

      What artists do you admire locally and nationally? 

      Adam Buick does the most sublime work. Ceramic moon jars and votive bells.I love Graham Hurdewood’s work. Brian Wildsmith has been a great influence on me. James Mayhew is astonishing and he is illustrating Mrs Noah’s Pockets for me, to be published by Otter-Barry Books. Angela Barrett, she’s astonishing. Catherine Hyde, Tamsin Abbott, one a painter, one who works in glass. Chagall, Van Gogh, cave painters and all those glorious anonymous painters who illuminated manuscripts in monasteries. Shaun Tan. He is just genius. Peter Till.

       What do you hope people feel when they open your books or look at one of your paintings?

      I hope people get a sense of escape into another place. I have just finished working on a picture book for grown ups. It will be published by Graffeg in September. It’s called The Quiet Music of Gently Falling Snow and I hope that it is a lullaby for grown ups. Escape. Stepping outside, sideways, into another world. A harbour. Peace.

      Social media has a massive effect on an artist’s visibility and popularity, do you find it a distraction or are you naturally socially minded?

       

      I find it a necessary intrusion, and also a distraction. I have found amazing things through it, been informed and also wasted so much time. I am learning to use it better, but part of me wants to take a break. So when I have finished The Wild Fox I am going to have a holiday for a week. I have heard of holiday. Publishers take them in the summer. I was talking about my plans for my weeks holiday with a friend yesterday. I am hoping to spend a few days walking, sitting and watching the sea, and painting. And I think I will switch off Facebook and Twitter. That will be my holiday. No Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for a week. I’m sure it will survive very well without me. But it is now a part of my working process and it does, for good or bad, help readers connect with authors and us all with our contemporaries.

      But sometimes I crave the solitude of mind that is still there, if we unplug.

       

      Once again, a huge congratulations on your nomination, we have no doubt there will be countless more to come, and thank you for such an inspiring interview.

      - Love, The Gallery.

       

    Top