Taratories Blog

Lost: Wales Residency

My last full day in Corris was quite an adventure.  I packed up my studio and wanted to take a walk to the Craft Center in Upper Corris.  I had read about it before I came to Corris and I thought I would go see what it was all about in person.  I had instructions on how to get there from people in the house and it didn't seem that hard to get there.  Walk to the end of the road and make a sharp right, then you will get there...

I walked, and walked, and walked.  I never saw a sharp right.  It felt as though I was on a highway. Cars were flying by me and I had no place to walk besides the road in some parts.  I walked in the grass outside of the guard rail when I could.  I was very nervous that I was going to get hit, and started to feel nervous that I had also gone the wrong way.  

When I came to this waterfall and stream I just knew I had either gone too far or taken a wrong turn so I decided to just turn around and walk back the way I came.  Then it started to pour down rain.  I was SO GLAD that last minute I decided to throw my backpack on which had my umbrella in it.  Rain actually ended up benefitting me because I had a bright yellow umbrella which I waved to oncoming traffic to alert them of my presence on the road!  Somehow I felt a surge of confidence as I walked behind the thin yellow fabric.  I almost reached the town of Corris when Yuki, the volunteer at Maelor, pulled up in her van and rescued me!  She showed me where I made the mistake of veering to the left (which I felt at the time was a straight path) instead of turning right where I should have.  She dropped me at the door of the Craft Center and said she would wait a minute until I made sure it was open.  Sure enough it was CLOSED FOR THE SEASON!!  How ironic!  I was so glad she stayed and waited so I didn't have to walk back into town in the rain anymore.  What a day.  I was gone for hours!  We were laughing so hard at my stupidity!  

That night we all went out to the pub for dinner at Dolgellau which is a neighboring town.  It was so great to have a last hoorah before I left the next day and really made up for the wet wandering I did earlier.  The three of us resident artists were joined by Yuki, the volunteer, and Veronica and Mary who are owners and founders of Stiwdio Maelor.  

The next morning I took one last walk in the town and said "goodbye" to the local cow who has a huge bellowing "Moo" that I hear from Maelor every day.

I also said "hello" to some rams in a tractor who passed by.  I stood and thought to myself, "This is Wales."  I had to say goodbye to everything.  I went into each room in Maelor and thought of memories in each one.  Endings are so hard, but I was so excited to see my family as well which lessened the sting.  I have missed them so much!

I will have one last blog post for my residency that will tie it all up in a bow.  But until then, here are some detail shots of the last painting that I did in Wales.

Listen: Wales Residency

The last few days I have been glued to my canvas from morning until night.  I think knowing that my time is drawing to a close has given me an extra dose of motivation to use my time to my advantage.  I know that when I go home time to create will look very different.  I have painted 4 paintings and I am finishing up my 5th one now.  Having this kind of time to work has been amazing.  No distractions, no schedule.  The only sounds I hear are the footsteps of the other artists on the old wood floors, the jets flying low above Corris, the sound of kegs being hauled up from the basement of the pub next door by the owner and his sons, the chatter of people inside the pub at night, little children on the street running home from school, and my spotify playlist.  I will miss these sounds.  These will always be the sounds of Wales in my memory. What sounds have you heard today?

This pub is not like a typical bar in America.  There are Grannies in their sweaters, children, babies, families that hang out in there.  For Halloween yesterday they had a little disco for kids with games and hot dogs and candy!  They were so cute dressed up in their little costumes.  We had some trick-or-treaters knock on the door but we had nothing to offer them unfortunately.  

I am keeping my art to myself while I am here until a show that I will be having at the end of the month but I am going to start to sharing a few detail images on this blog and eventually I will show the full works in their entirety.  Here are a few details from one of my paintings that I did...

Silence: Wales Residency

Yesterday I started off the day with a scone.  It was fresh out of the oven at Andy and Adams coffee shop next door and it was so delicious!  What made it amazing was the clotted cream and jam on top!  I have never tried clotted cream before and to tell you the truth, the name didn't sound very appealing.  After people at the cafe convincing me to try it I gave it a go and it was dreamy!  It was more like the consistency of butter but sweet and different. It changed my life.

On Sunday's in Corris they run their old victorian train through the town so I figured I would hop on while I was here!  It didn't go very far but it had some pretty views. 

At the end of the ride the train conductor gave us a tour of the place where they work on the trains and gave us a little history lesson.  This railway dates back to the 1850's.  The line was initially built as a horse-and-gravity-worked ramrod to carry slate from the quarries of Corris to other places.

It was a very cold day and by the end I was ready to warm up to some tea... AGAIN!  I have never drank so much tea in my life!  I am normally a coffee drinker but you can't drink coffee all day with all that caffeine and that is why people turn to tea to warm them up throughout the day.  Tea, soups, anything warm is all that sounds appealing.  Even when you are indoors it is cold everywhere.  I worked in my studio with a hat, robe, and house slippers on and I looked ridiculous but you will do anything to stay warm around here!

After my little train ride I spent the rest of the day working on my art.  I was not feeling very motivated to work on art but I pushed myself and ended up finishing up my third painting.  Creating takes such discipline.  Anyone who says that it doesn't is fooled.  After I was done it was evening and evenings are when I tend to feel a bit lonely.  I have never had this much solitude in my life and it is really bringing about some personal awakenings for me.  Last week I was taking everything that was new and processing my new surroundings and my new mission.  It took a week for me to unravel in a way.  The fast pace of my life back home needed to transition into this slow paced life I am in right now.  Now that I have slowed down I have been doing a lot of soul searching.  Sometimes the silence is so strong it brings a kind of buzz in my ear.  At home I am never in this kind of silence and it can be uncomfortable at times.  But I am learning to embrace it and see what it has for me.  

It is so strange to have such few options.  When I am alone in the house, I can either do art, read, listen to music, pray, write, or stare at the wall.  I have done all of the above but there are times when I feel like I need to fill the silence with noise such as wifi (which we don't have access to), or other people, or distractions.  When I am forced to be alone without those things it is very revealing.  What has been revealed to me so far is that even though I care about my art so much, I care more about the people that are in my life more.  Without them nothing else seems to matter.  I feel like i had art up on a pedestal where it shouldn't be.  The need for time to do art has been satisfied since I have been here and that has brought clarity.  I want to bring art down a couple rungs down the ladder when I go home even though I will always strive to find time to create. 

Confliction: Wales Residency

Today I spent most of the day in the studio except for my morning coffee at Adam and Andy’s when I blogged and researched.  I think that no time outside walking or with people was not a good idea.  Today was one of those days that seemed to be a little puzzle piece to my artistic journey.  Although nothing eventful happened today, I feel as though I had activity going on in my heart and in my brain that counted for something.  As I was working, I had thoughts that started to mess with me while I was working and threw me into a weird state. 

I find that there are parts about being an artist that can be quite challenging.  It is so hard to find the balance of doing what you love and being authentic and true to yourself in your art, and making art that other people with enjoy and ultimately end up buying.  Making art for art’s sake is something that I find is hard to do sometimes.  Usually I am working on a commissioned piece for a client and there is someone who has in a way already accepted it and has agreed to purchase it.  Doing art the way I am doing it in Wales is very different. 

I haven’t worked like this in a long time and it is a very vulnerable thing to do.  Art is so personal and there will only be a certain percentage of people that will get my work and appreciate it for what it is.  I am struggling with letting go of what people’s opinions will be and if I will ever sell any pieces that I work on.  I know that these are thoughts that I need to disregard while I am here because the whole point of this trip is not to make work that I will be guaranteed to sell or that people will like.  The point is doing art just for the sake of doing it and being true to myself.  If people like it, then great, but I know I shouldn’t worry about that right now.  It is a sacrifice of time with family, money, and extra work for my husband, and I want to know that what I am doing is worthy of all of it. This is self inflicted so I know that I just need to work through it and just do what I am called to do here and the rest will work itself out. I have been reading Proverbs while I am here and praying for wisdom.  I want to find wisdom in the way that I create while I am here and I know that the Lord is near and that He will guide me. I need to trust in that…


Discover: Wales Residency

Today I went to Andy and Adam’s coffee shop and had a latte and did some research online about Welsh folklore.  I am really inspired to incorporate history from the area and I think this will be the best way to do that in my art.  After researching I went for a walk with Yuki.  I thought that this walk would be just like any typical walk.  I had no idea what I was in for!!!

At first there were the beautiful old stone buildings, a house that was an old school built in 1872, pretty views over stone walls, grave yard, and the coolest toadstools I’ve ever seen, but then we came to this…


It was a house that had a HUGE italian village that was built by the owner a long time ago but he doesn’t live there now.  It actually used to be an attraction that people would visit and walk through.  Now passersby can just peer at it from the road. It went on and on.  Buildings made to look like actual places in Italy, statues, gargoyles, ruins.  There were so many writings on old stones and bricks, and possible grave stones?  Everything seemed to have a story.  It was definitely creepy but beyond amazing!!  


At the end of the Italian village was the entrance to what looked like an enchanted forest.  I’m not going to lie, I felt a little scared.  I also felt like little fairies were going to pop out from behind a tree at any second.  Then we heard something and stopped.  It already felt like we were walking into a creepy tunnel of trees so hearing sounds didn’t make us feel better.  The sounds were so strange but they were the sounds of the trees swaying in the wind and cracking.  One time it even sounded like a bark of some sort, but it was just the trees hitting against each other. They were so tall and looming and when the wind swayed the trees looked like they were going to topple over.  We ran so fast at some points because we were so nervous!

After we finally got through the forest, there was the most amazing discovery.  Ruins.  In the middle of the woods.  Yes, you heard me.  There must have been a house in there hundreds of years ago.  There were also lots of huge stone walls through the forest, covered with the most amazing moss.  Moss of all colors of green. We touched so many different types of moss, and with some of them our finger tips sunk down many inches on the soft springy moss.  I just want a bed made of moss I love it so much.  I later learned that after the slate mining closed down, people were asked to leave their homes so they could plant trees and switch to the wood industry.  

I have never seen moss covered trees like I did today.  The moss wasn’t just in one area, it was covering the entire trees, trunk and branches and all!  There was also a little stone house we discovered nearby and a beautiful look out area where we could see a waterfall and the stone quarry.  Corris is an old slate mining town so that is why all the roofs are covered in slate here.  

We came across a field of sheep and they all came running up to us at the gate!  They were so adorable!  3 breeds of sheep were there.  I liked the ones with the rounder faces.  I think they liked us too!  I kept bleating and they responded and waited for more.  I could have talked to them all day.  



This amazing two hour walk ended up to be an adventure that I would imagine in a book and I would want to read it over and over again.  I am really inspired to get outside more.  To bundle up, put some boots on, and breath in all God’s creation.  I have really found it makes me come alive inside!  After our walk I worked in my studio until the next day, literally.  This has been my schedule and there is nothing anyone can do about it!


The town of Corris

The town of Corris

Inspire: Wales Residency

The time change had me up until 3am last night!  I still haven't adjusted.  After I got ready in the morning I headed over to the little cafe in Corris a couple doors down called "Andy and Adams" and it was the most quaint little place!  It was like a general store and cafe in one.  There is no wifi where we are staying so I was finally able to connect there.  Having to venture out to get wifi actually is a great way to get out and meet locals... and acquire a hot cappuccino.  


 I sat in a cozy corner with the rain pouring down outside the window next to me.  I just love listening to the locals chat, it is my absolute favorite!  I want to bottle it all up and take it home with me.  "Could you please pass the marmalade?" "What are you doing for boxing day?"  "How lovely" "Cheers mate!"  Everyone is so friendly and kind here.  


After coffee I went with Yuki, who is a volunteer and artist here from London, to Machynlleth to run few errands.  She has a car which is handy so we drove back to where I started on Saturday on my trek to Corris.  As we drove, I took in everything around me, the winding roads leading to the stoney bridge we crossed over, the water below, the sheep ahead, the traffic signs and old cemetery... everything stands out when you are the foreigner.  

I went to the grocery store when I was in town because I was down to one banana.  What a fun adventure it was going grocery shopping!  There were so many types of food I'd never seen or heard of.  I went with a few familiar items that I loved as a child in England such as Cadbury Flake bars, Ribena, and chocolate croissants as well as your typical groceries as well.  I do feel like such an American when I am with the other artists.  When I popped in my pizza for dinner, someone else was cooking turnips and potatoes on the stove and another had sardines on a salad.  


After we got home I got to work in my studio.  Having this time to only focus on my art and my mind and my stomach (teehee) is so refreshing!  I went downstairs to the dining room to see if I could find some books to use as inspiration.  I found a really cool book on Celtic Mythology and a huge bird book that I leafed through.  I didn't really get quite the inspiration that I was looking for so I just kept working.  One of my favorite things from this residency has been seeing what the other artists are working on in their studios and talking the language of art with them.  It is so comforting and exciting to talk to people who understand the same things as me!  Being in community with other artists is also such a resource and learning opportunity.  I can never get enough of this kind of relational learning from fellow artists.  It is really invaluable!  

A couple of the artists came into my studio to see what I have been up to and we started talking about the idea of trying to use Welsh folklore in my work.  To read about that I needed wifi, and when you need wifi in the evenings you go to the pub next door... "Slaters Arms."  

A dog greeted Yuki and I at the door and when I stepped inside I felt like I just stepped back in time.  It is the exact scene you would picture in Wales if you had to dream one up.   

A few people standing at the bar, while a man with his grey coat and newsboy hat sits by the fire while he holds the leash to his two dogs sleeping on the floor. I chatted with him for a minute about Welsh folklore and he told me a fun story about how he acquired his dogs and where their Welsh names came from.  There is something about Welsh people that I find so endearing.  I feel like I could sit down and have a chat with any of them.  I love it here so much.  

 Turns out that the hunt for inspiration was the thing that was actually inspiring...