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Creative Gower – Why Buy Art?

It’s a situation we all find ourselves in. There’s a birthday, anniversary or celebration looming. We’ve busy lives, have totally forgotten about it and now, it’s upon us! We indulge in a spot of hasty internet shopping or pop out and grab the closest affordable thing to us… But are we happy with it? Well, not really.
It happens time and time again where convenience shopping for presents is, well, just simply more convenient! We would all rather the simplicity that supermarket shopping brings us and yes, on the odd occasion that includes me too. Now it’s not something I’m particularly proud of especially when you consider that I spend my days trying to promote the benefits of shopping with local artists and craftsmen. So what if shopping was different? What if when we looked at the calendar and noticed it was dads birthday, that we went online and found a local artisan to do all the hard work? Why should we bother, especially when so many major companies offer speedy next day delivery and a wide range of products? Well,  other than doing your bit in this harsh economy to support and protect the local ‘creatives’ around you, you’re getting a unique and beautifully crafted piece that’s tailor made to your needs. Something bespoke. You’re telling your friends and family that you’ve really thought about the gift you bought them; an original work that was created by hand with care, consideration and oodles of talent.. Not a mass produced item that they may already have.

“When buying from an artist, you’re buying more than just an object. You’re buying hundreds of hours of failures and experimentation. You’re buying days, weeks and months of frustration and moments of pure joy. You aren’t just buying a ‘thing’ – you’re buying a piece of heart, a piece of soul and a moment of someone’s life. Most importantly, you’re buying the artist more time to do something they’re passionate about.” ~ Rebekah Joy Platt

Lets take out the feel-good-do-good part of this equation and just look at how it benefits you. When you contact an artist or crafter you have a choice. You can buy an item that they’ve already created (great for a bit of last minute shopping and you’re still getting something that’s one of a kind) or you can commission them to produce a totally unique piece and usually, you can dictate the budget you’re working with. That’s it. You pick up the phone, have a chat about the product you’re hoping to achieve and voilà, they do all the hard work for you!
‘So let me get this straight’ you say… ‘I ring the artisan, tell them what I want and how much I can afford and they create, wrap and post it to me or the lucky person receiving it?!’ Well, yes! It’s as easy as that. No fuss, no hassle, no rush hour traffic to contend with. Simple.
Yet, for some reason, artists and craftsmen are constantly having to persuade people of their worth and convince them that the ‘art’ they produce (in all its forms) is a worthwhile purchase.

Here in the Gower and Swansea we have a remarkable variety of talent. Whether it’s fine art or illustration, sculpture, glass works, jewellery, textiles, pottery or photography (to name but a few), we have it in abundance. I simply cannot stress enough how rich the community of local ‘creatives’ is, and it’s right on our doorstep at our disposal.
Speaking as an artist, I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to own an original piece of art. Something that inspires emotion, sparks memories or ideas and becomes a central point for positivity, pride and conversation. Paintings we see that we can’t forget. Paintings that draw us in and won’t let go. Whatever the reason behind it, we know we don’t buy art because of its practicality, we buy it because it speaks to the soul.

In an age of fleeting digital photographs, television advertisements and rolling billboards, there’s little visual stimulation quite like the permanence of painted art. An object that lingers and waits until you’ve finished looking – not something that flicks on, off or over before you’ve had a chance to compute. This is why we buy it.
Art for some is nothing more than a display of wealth or the process of adding a splash of well coordinated colour to a room. To others it’s a dream. It’s a framed conversation starter, an escape from reality and a chance to get lost. We all wish we owned an original piece of art, but few of us ever get the opportunity. In fact, few of us realise we can all own art, it just depends on how far we’re willing to venture into it. “Art is expensive” (I’ve heard this a thousand times) but it’s really the thought of art that is expensive – in reality, it doesn’t have to be. Though many people buy works with thousands on the price tag, most art is and will always be, affordable. Ok, ok, you may not be able to get yourself an original Botticelli (or I’d have a dozen all over the house) and its true that some art really does have a hefty value, but there are a million pieces out there by artists, crafters and designers that create because they can’t imagine doing anything else. Look for these people. Look for those who love what they do and know why they do it. It’s not for the money – that’s the ‘result’ – but for the simple reason that they need you to see, feel and be a part of their work just as much as they are. These people want you to be part of their journey and don’t ask you to re-mortgage your home to achieve it.
As an artist I strive to give people the chance to be part of this exact journey; to immerse themselves in the all encompassing creative process. I work and produce art that’s affordable, because it’s more important for me that everyone has the chance to buy, own and pass down a piece of art. Its an investment for the soul. I consider my works to be vibrant, bold, expressive and free, but like the multitude of arts and crafts that are produced on the Gower, what they inspire, is entirely up to you..

Rhiannon x

'Harbour Dreams'
‘Harbour Dreams’
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art, creative, Editorial, Gower, Inspiration, Local, Local Magazine, magazine, photograph, Supporting Locals, Wales

Catch up with ‘Creative Gower’

As many of you who follow me on Facebook know, I’ve recently started writing for a magazine based in the Gower / Swansea. I write the new arts and crafts section and for those of you not local enough to get a copy of my articles, they’re all here for you to read. Just in case you’re interested :)

April / May issue:

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Creative Gower

With its staggering coastline, rolling farmlands, dramatic sunsets and wonderful variety of wildlife, the Gower has captured the minds of artists and creative folk throughout the ages. Designated as the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s little wonder that this pretty peninsula has been the inspiration for some of our literary greats and remains adored by walkers, surfers and sun seekers to this day.

But it’s not just the aesthetic side of the Gower that has captured the imagination. With dozens of ancient monuments ranging from burial chambers to hill forts and castles, the Gower’s heritage spans over tens of thousands of years. You need only a picnic, a map and a sense of adventure to enjoy the 70 sq miles of breathtaking scenery, history and wildlife that this place provides.

I have always wanted to live in the Gower. From an artists perspective it’s an inexhaustible source of inspiration and the perfect base for a family obsessed with the coast! Whatever the season, the Gower has always presented me with new colours, textures and natural forms of art which I use in my everyday work. A year ago, I finally made the move and now live a stones throw from the beaches I used to spend all my spare time on. Whether I’m walking the dog or setting up camp with my easel and coffee next to the shoreline, there’s always something to sketch, paint or photograph, so I’m never without a pencil and pad of paper.

For me, its the white washed cottages dotted throughout the landscape with the smell of wood fires on the air and the endless stone walled lanes that weave through quiet villages. Its the colourful fishing boats that bob quietly off shore and the sound of seagulls overhead. There’s aspects of the Gower in every piece of my work, whatever the commission. Since most of my paintings are based around the coast, the Gower Peninsula was the perfect place to settle.

Working from my home studio, I get to enjoy this fabulous place on a daily basis. But it’s not just the scenery that gets the creative juices flowing. The people of the Gower are as diverse as their surroundings. For such a small area, this little peninsula contains hundreds of talented artisans from painters to photographers, potters, jewellers, sculptors and designers – the Gower really has them all! What’s more, with such a friendly and connected community, the range of local organised markets, fayres and craft stalls available throughout the year ensure that you’re never short of advice or inspiration to get you started.

So do you need to have a natural flair for art to enjoy arts or crafts? The simple answer is no. Time and time again I hear the same thing ‘I wish I was artistic, but I’m rubbish at art’. Perhaps you’ve used the line yourself? But, you couldn’t be more wrong. We all have an area of art that we’re good at. It’s not always the ability to paint photo-realistic pieces or carve a magnificent sculpture to rival Michaelangelo’s Pieta, but there are so many other areas of crafting that you could successfully indulge in.

Which craft is which?

If you’re having trouble finding the right creative craft for you, here’s a list of some of the things you can do or try for free over the spring and summer months,

Photography ~ You don’t have to spend a fortune on an expensive SLR camera these days, since most modern phones are equipped with a camera that’ll tackle the job. You don’t have to be a professional either as when you consider the beauty of the Gower, you certainly wont run out of breathtaking subjects to practice photographing. Use the weather for added drama or attempt a wildlife shot. You’ll be surprised with the results!

Print making ~ Though there are a number of products available on the market that would allow you to start printing on a budget, there’s also a number of great ways to start yourself off without spending a penny on cutting tools or lino blocks. You may think that potato printing is reserved for the kids but you couldn’t be more wrong! Cutting out a set of simple shapes into an old potato will give you a great base to start making your own wrapping paper, wall decorations or layered, colourful works of art! You don’t have to be a creative genius, just pop it in a frame and watch it brighten up your kitchen! If you’re all out of Welsh spuds, why not enjoy a walk on the beach or in the countryside and collect shells, flowers and leaves to paint and press onto paper for a more detailed effect.

Creative Window Hangings ~ Known for its white sandy beaches, the Gower is the perfect place to spend a few hours collecting sea glass. Tumbled and in a variety of beautiful colours these little ocean worn gems look fantastic strung up in the window or add a touch of beach chic to the room when collected in glass vases.

Rubbing’s – Armed with a pad of paper and a pack of coloured pencils, you can spend a Saturday wandering this perfect peninsula taking rubbing’s of tree bark, plaques, fences, shells or even headstones to produce a fabulous mix of designs. You could simply collect them or even use them as the basis for future print ideas.

Clay impressions ~ Clay impressions are a great way to start your journey into Home-made gifts! All you’ll need is some air dry clay (Which is relatively cheap and can be bought from most craft shops), some paint, some ribbon and a want for the great outdoors! Collect items such as cockle or periwinkle shells and press them into a rolled out sheet of clay (about a cm thick). You can then use a cookie cutter to cut the design out, leave to dry, paint and thread. These are super little personalised gifts that look great when hung up and can be as simple or complicated as you like. Just don’t forget to let the clay dry completely before painting and pop a little hole in it when wet to feed the ribbon through!

If all of these sound great, but a class is more to your liking (and a great opportunity to meet new people whilst learning new skills) why not try your hand at one of the following;

Glass working ~ A chance to embrace the inner magpie and indulge in all things shiny! Workshops are available at the Gower Heritage Centre.

Life Drawing or Creative Painting~ Study and draw the human form or learn to express yourself through the medium of paint. These classes are available at GOWER GROUP in Penclawdd.

The Gower’s creative community really is second to none, so whether you’re looking for home made gift ideas or a new hobby, you’ll find it here. Over the following months, you can hope to see interviews with Gower artisans, tutorials and news of up and coming craft events in your area. I’d also love to see your own creations so feel free to send me a photograph of your work via email and maybe I’ll get to include it in the next issues.

Rhiannon x

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