Having lived outside Wales for many years, I find myself drawn back to my roots and my childhood experiences in the shadows of the slate waste heaps in Dinorwig, North Wales. They are a dominant, physical testament to the manpower that carved and reshaped the landscape. We owe a great deal to the men that worked in such arduous conditions in the heavy industries of the last century. However, I feel that there has not been much acknowledgement of the role that women played in this success. After all, women also worked extremely hard in the background - childbearing, household chores, mending, maybe looking after stock, and generally holding the family together in tough times.
I feel that Welsh blankets, shawls and carthenni are iconic and are a visual and emotional link with this period in our history. They were commonplace in most homes, and I feel they symbolised comfort and also brought much needed colour to the greyness of industrial times. They were both functional and ornamental.
This is where the inspiration for my Hen Wlad Fy Mamau vessels comes. I am referencing the colourful patterns of the Welsh textiles, and making both beautiful and functional vessels. I have chosen to use a hand building technique to create the vessels which involves wrapping clay, rather like a blanket. The patterns are made with coloured slips and the clay body is porcelain paperclay. In some of the vases I have used wool in the design which provides a textural contrast to the porcelain.
'Hen Wlad Fy Mamau' is my twist on the Welsh national anthem (Land of My Fathers). I want to celebrate the role of our foremothers as well as our forefathers.
Mae hen wlad fy mamau yn annwyl i mi
Yn cynnal ein cenedl drwy’r oesoedd di-ri
Eu llafur yn sylfaen i lwyddiant y tad
Yn garthen gariadus yn magu ein gwlad