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Category: Arts

STOP PRESS: The competition is open for voting till June but the outstanding quality of Nichola's work has already been recognised with the award of the 'Elizabeth Hosking Prize For Watercolor'. We all wish Nichola the best of luck next month. VOTE HERE

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98380482_275547447155522_1847212270904410112_n 1.jpg AmeriCymru:  Hi Nichola, and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. What can you tell us about your entry to the 2020 Wildlife Artist of the Year competition?

Nichola: Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to share my work with your members and communicate. 

My Tansy Beetle, watercolour has been shortlisted for Wildlife Artist of the Year 2020. My work is one of 159 artworks selected from an incredible 1,200 entries from across the world.

It really is a huge honour to be shortlisted by this competition. Through art, we can raise awareness and support wildlife conservation.  This exhibition is usually held in Mall galleries London but due to the pandemic is now a live online exhibition. You can view my work here:

My work is featured in the category Facing Extinction. This category invites artists to celebrate these vulnerable species, capturing their behaviour and importance in striking imagery. They may be gone tomorrow if we do not act today.

AmeriCymru:  In 2005, you became a visiting artist for WNO. What does this entail? Where can people see samples of your work online?

Nichola:  I observe and draw the rehearsals and performances on stage.  For over ten years, I’ve been documenting a visual history of Welsh National Opera through the medium of drawing alongside my sister Sarah Hope, who is also a professional fine artist. Our work is held in public and private collections across Europe, Australia and the USA

Working from live performance requires a responsive gaze and the ability to capture movement and emotion with immediacy and confidence. Watercolour allows me to work with colour in a very fluid way and this medium offers up unique qualities.

I’ve been fortunate to draw two productions at Lyric Opera, Chicago. It was an amazing experience and I fell in love with the city, the  friendly people and crazy weather!

My work can be viewed on or on social media - Instagram and Facebook  @thedrawingeye 

AmeriCymru:  In 2019 you were invited to do a drawing demonstration in the galleries of the National Museum of Wales for the public event 'After Dark'. Care to tell us more about this experience?

Nichola:  I began drawing natural history specimens at National Museum Wales in 2019. I’m currently interested in shorebirds connected to Wales.  We have a diverse range of habitats that are important for birds. Some, such as the seabird colonies of Anglesey and Pembrokeshire, have probably been that way for thousands of years. 

I was invited to do a drawing demonstration at After Dark, an event held by National Museum Wales in Cardiff. The museum was opened up in the evening and was attended by a thousand members of the public. 

The museum’s taxidermy collection was used as an inspiration for drawing. I chose to draw a grey heron in ink and wash. I hope that this inspired people to look closely and respond creatively to the wonderful wildlife we have.

AmeriCymru:  Your work is clearly inspired by the animal world. What can you tell us about your 2019 exhibition - 'London Rats' - at the Workers Galley in Porth?

Nichola:  The Workers gallery is located in the little village of Porth, South Wales. Three of my works from a series called London Rats were selected for the exhibition Drawn to Life. This aligned with the Big Draw festival 2019. Over 25 countries including Wales participate in this worldwide campaign each year.

London Rats is inspired by the role of rats as Other in folklore and history. Rats are hugely symbolic. Interestingly it’s year of the rat!

AmeriCymru:  What's next for Nichola Hope? Any new exhibitions or events?

Nichola:  My exhibition of opera paintings and drawings at the Pierhead Building, Senedd Welsh Assembly was due to open in May 2020 but has been postponed due to the pandemic. I’m looking forward to rescheduling the show for a future date!

I’ll be submitting a sketchbook to the Brooklyn Art Library, NYC later this year and that will be part of a touring exhibition and will be digitized.

AmeriCymru:  Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?

Nichola:  I admire how AmeriCymru raises Wales’ cultural profile to American audiences and  I’d love to see more cross Atlantic artistic collaborations between Welsh  and American artists in the future. 

You can vote for Nichola Hope for the People’s choice award here: Wildlife Artist of the Year 2020

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       ARTWORK SIZE (CM): 38 X 46

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It’s in the Morgan Hopkin Blood

By AmeriCymru, 2016-10-11


The Morgan Hopkin Gallery presents work from four generations of one family. Llew E Morgan, through his own art, inspired his family and descendents to create art and literature from a love of their country. Original paintings, prints and books all available from

Llew E Morgan

fullcircle.jpg Llew E Morgan was a renaissance man, an innovator in education and photography, the latter a hobby which brought him national recognition. He was the winner of fourteen ‘Firsts’ for his photography at the National Eisteddfod of Wales from his first entry in Treorchy in 1928.

Llew was born in 1885 in Tirwaun, a hamlet outside Ystradgynlais in the Swansea Valley. At the age of ten he was given a camera by his grandmother, a present for passing the scholarship to the local grammar school, and this began a lifelong obsession with photography.

After two near-death experiences as a teenager in the colliery, Llew’s parents encouraged him to try for a university place. He succeeded, and chose Exeter where he excelled at chemistry, biology and no less at rugby. He returned home to marry Blodwen, his long-time sweetheart, who was happy to leave the valley for the more affluent Oxford when Llew was offered a teaching post there. However, the Oxfordshire countryside did not give him the joy he felt when he walked the Brecon Beacons and the Gower peninsular and this hiraeth for Wales brought the family back to Ystradgynlais in 1925.

Llew began teaching in Ynyscedwyn School and spent his evenings writing articles for the local paper , Y Llais , on his skills as a gardener and rearer of chickens, ducks, geese and pigs.

Each article was accompanied by notes from Blodwen on preserving, pickling and cooking the bountiful harvest of their plot. It read like the Good Life but most miners were excellent gardeners and with houses built on the roadside, working class Welsh houses had extremely long gardens with plenty of potential.

Newspapers began to run photographic competitions and Llew became a regular winner with his unique-angle snaps and comic scenes of children at play. Daughter Betty and her friends were always ready to pile into the Ford and enjoy an outing to the seaside with Blodwen supplying a generous picnic.

Llew’s main focus was nature and landscape and he would spend hours in the remote areas of Brecon and Radnor waiting for a Peregrine Falcon to emerge from its nest or a fox to appear at its lair. These two images were his initial prizes at the National Eisteddfod. Hours after supper would be spent in his darkroom, developing and printing the photographs to his very high standards.

During WW2, while still teaching full-time, Llew became an Adviser to the Ministry of Agriculture. Evenings were now spent making slides of pertinent livestock, even making clay models of the innards of rabbits showing how disease can affect an animal, so that he could lecture to communities on how to ‘dig for victory’. His trusty Ford took him often as far as Aberystwyth, almost a three hour journey in those days, to lecture for a few hours and then drive home by the early hours to grab some sleep before leaving for school. These years also saw him as Air Raid Warden as German bombers would fly up the valley after their assault on Swansea, dropping bombs as they made their way back to the Continent.

Llew’s images live on at the St. Fagin’s Museum, Cardiff, through the biography, Full Circle, and through the family archive and website.

Elizabeth Hopkin

Llew's daughter, Betty, had watched her father compose his photographs and had inherited his talent for composition and the same interest in the documentary element in art. When she began to paint it was the story behind the subject which she wished to express. Wartime in Cardiff brought her home to Ystradgynlais. She was now married to the architect, Howel Hopkin, whose father, Will, was the proprietor of the newspaper, The West Wales Observer. Her idea was to train as an interior decorator and to work with Howel in designing ‘ideal’ homes, but motherhood took over and with three children to care for her artistic aspirations were put on hold. She did, however, write children’s stories and continued to draw, encouraging the children in both art forms.

In the 1970s she began to paint pictures depicting life in the valley during her childhood – the carnivals, eisteddfods, Whitsun parades, cinema queues and domestic scenes such as ‘Pig Killing’, ‘Dadcu’s Funeral’, and community events like the 1936 ‘Coronation Street Party’. Betty, now signing herself Elizabeth Hopkin, took sample paintings to the Portal Gallery in Bond Street, and was immediately accepted as one of their stable of artists by the owner, Eric Lister. He was enthralled by her imaginative colours and poetic expression and later wrote in his book on British Naïve and Primitive Artists:

Her paintings are a chronicle of life within the Welsh valley community seen through the eyes of an innocent child, but executed with the formal composition of an adult.

For twenty years Elizabeth exhibited successfully at the Portal, then at galleries across America and now shows exclusively at the Albany Gallery in Cardiff. She was encouraged by Tom Maschler, then head of Jonathan Cape publishers, to write a book on the stories behind her paintings. This she did in Then the Sirens Sounded followed by Butterflies of the Valley . Both books show how life changed from the rural idyll of the very early 1900s to the mining community of the 1950s.

What Eric Lister and collectors have loved is the humour that is expressed in her work. A typical series of paintings is of Dai Romantic, a miner, who stops to pick wild roses for his wife as he walks home from a shift with his companions, and who paints their terrace house pink which pleases his wife but shocks the neighbours.

Elizabeth painted an era long-gone but never to be forgotten. Her three daughters are all artistic, though Wendy was drawn to the sciences, while Mary followed her love of music, and Carole pursued acting, writing and painting.

Carole Morgan Hopkin

Trained at Cardiff College of Art and with an M.A. in Literature from Cardiff University, Carole has travelled widely always carrying with her a sketchbook and notebook. After appearing in The Mousetrap, Dr. Who , and several television dramas she moved to New York and spent five happy years working at the British Trade Office.

On weekends she painted and had her first American Exhibition in Greenwich, Connecticut. A feature on her work in Vogue magazine advertised her talent for portraits of homes and gardens and this set off a chain of commissions from L.A., Palm Beach, and ultimately to portray the home of Ambassador and Mrs. Biddle-Duke in New York.

Family circumstances brought her back to Wales and she began to teach Art and Creative Writing for the University of Wales, Swansea. She became an Associate Tutor in Cultural Studies and now lectures on Llew’s life and work, her mother’s paintings, and the work of Josef Herman, the Polish artist who settled in Ystradgynlais from 1944 to 1955 and became a close family friend.

Carole is a Trustee of the Josef Herman Art Foundation Cymru and also of the Llangiwg Community Association having helped save the ancient parish church of Llangiwg high on the hills above the town of Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley.

After writing, Full Circle, the life of her grandfather, Carole set up Merton Press and published her novel, The Sensualist , three autobiographies illustrated with her paintings – French Adventures, Beatles, Before and Beyond and Aaaah America . This year she wrote and illustrated her first collection of prose-poems in Fantasia.

Creativity runs in everyone’s blood but only with encouragement and inspiration will it flourish. The family website is run by Carole’s niece, Jessica Lee Morgan, who follows her mother’s love of music and singing. As well as work by Llew, Elizabeth and Carole, the website includes drawings and paintings by Mary Hopkin and photographs by her son Morgan Visconti.

Original paintings, prints and books all available from

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Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape

Saturday January 23 2016, 12:00 AM - Sunday April 24 2016
@ Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey

Click above link for event listing and more details

Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape will be on view at the Princeton University Art Museum from Jan. 23 through Apr. 24, 2016 PRINCETON, N.J. – For centuries, artists have been fascinated by Britain’s changing landscape and the changing dialogue surrounding nature and culture, country and city, rolling hills and urban industry. Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape follows the rise of British landscape painting, from the Industrial Revolution through 19th-century Romanticism and Impressionism, to 20th-century modernism and contemporary art.

The exhibition presents more than 60 masterpieces drawn from the remarkable collection of the National Museum Wales and offers powerful insights into the enduring role of landscape during this time of rapid change. Focusing on the period from 1770 to the present, the exhibition includes works by Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, J.M. W. Turner, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Oskar Kokoschka, David Nash, and Stanley Spencer.

Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills will be on view at the Princeton University Art Museum from Jan. 23 through Apr. 24, 2016. The exhibition was co-curated by Tim Barringer, Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, and Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art at the National Museum Wales, and was organized in collaboration with Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales.

“Bringing together painting, watercolor and photography, Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills invites us to consider why the landscape as subject has been so central to British art making and indeed to British national identity,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. “This compelling exhibition reveals the many ways in which artists developed new vocabularies to understand and respond to the world around them throughout the modern period.”

The British passion for landscape – already present in the literary works of Milton, Shakespeare and Chaucer – began to dominate the visual arts at the time of the Industrial Revolution. In his preface to Milton (ca. 1804-10), the poet William Blake wrote of both “England’s green and pleasant land” and the “dark satanic mills” of its new industrial cities. As Britain became the world’s first industrial nation in the late 18th century, cities– where the nation’s new wealth was generated and its population increasingly concentrated – mills and factories started to challenge country estates and rolling hills as the defining images of the nation. Artists tracked, recorded and resisted these changes, inaugurating a new era of British landscape painting which both celebrated the land’s natural beauty and a certain idea of Britain – one tied to the land itself – while also observing the feverish new energies of the modern world.

Loosely chronological, the exhibition begins with “Classical Visions and Picturesque Prospects,” looking back to the 17th-century origins of landscape painting through iconic works by Claude Lorrain and Salvator Rosa, canvases by the early British landscapists Thomas Gainsborough and Joseph Wright of Derby and the rise of watercolor as an increasingly valued artistic medium. “Turner and the Sublime” features major oil paintings – including The Storm (1840–45) and The Morning after the Wreck(ca. 1840) – and watercolors by the revered British artist who did so much to invent fundamentally new modes of painting. “Truth to Nature” focuses on artists’ direct and objective depictions of the natural world through works by John Constable and Stanley Spencer, among others. “Picturing Modernity” looks at the subsequent urban industrial transformation of Britain through representations by artists such as Lionel Walden and Oskar Kokoschka. Claude Monet’s visionary reflections of the Thames – The Pool of London (1871) and Charing Cross Bridge (1902) – during his seminal period in London are spotlighted in “Monet and Impressions of Britain.” Finally “Neo-Romantic to Post-Modern” considers the reemergence of traditional landscape subjects, inflected by modernism, the environmental movement and growing concern for the dark side of human impact on the natural world.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by the curators and individual entries on each work of art as well as by extensive public programming, including a film series examining the power of landscape on film offered in partnership with the Princeton Garden Theatre. Pastures Green and Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape is organized by the American Federation of Arts and Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales. The exhibition tour and catalogue are generously supported by the JFM Foundation, Mrs. Donald M. Cox and the Marc Fitch Fund. In-kind support is provided by Barbara and Richard S. Lane and Christie’s. The exhibition at Princeton has been made possible by support from the Frances E. and Elias Wolf, Class of 1920, Fund; the National Endowment for the Arts; Christopher E. Olofson, Class of 1992; and Susan andJohn Diekman, Class of 1965. Additional support has been made possible by the Allen R.Adler, Class of 1967, Exhibitions Fund; the Judith and Anthony B. Evnin, Class of 1962,Exhibitions Fund; the Rita Allen Foundation; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts;Katherine P. Holden, M.D., Class of 1973, and Joshua S. Jaffe, M.D.; and the Friends ofthe Princeton University Art Museum.

About the Princeton University Art Museum

With a collecting history that extends back to the 1750s, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include over 92,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe.

Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. Intimate in scale yet expansive in scope, the Museum offers a respite from the rush of daily life, a revitalizing experience of extraordinary works of art and an opportunity to delve deeply into the study of art and culture.

The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.;Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

Media contact: Erin R. Firestone, manager of marketing and public relations, or 609-258-3767

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Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape to tour four American cities December 2014 – April 2016

A new exhibition from Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales exploring the art of the British landscape over four centuries is to tour the United States from December. Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape will offer audiences in the United States a rare opportunity to follow this peculiarly British art form. A four-venue national tour of the US begins this December and opens at the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida on 23 December 2014.

Organised by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in partnership with the American Federation of Arts (AFA), the exhibition comprises paintings, drawings and photographs selected from Wales’ national art collection most never been seen in the USA before, by Tim Barringer - Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, and Oliver Fairclough - Keeper of Art, Amgueddfa Cymru.

Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape will travel to four venues:

Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida (23 December 2014 – 5 April 2015)
Frick Art and Historical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (7 May – 2 August 2015)
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, Utah (27 August – 13 December 2015)
Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey (23 January – 24 April 2016)

The exhibition explores a story that that begins in the 1600s and spans the age of the Industrial Revolution and the art of the nineteenth century, to the postmodern and post-industrial present.

While featuring some great masterpieces from Amgueddfa Cymru’s collection, the exhibition will also offer new insights into the development of landscape painting in Wales as well as into British art and culture more broadly. The exhibition will be divided into six thematic sections, allowing thought-provoking comparisons. Over 80 works, including major oil paintings will be seen alongside works on paper drawn from the Museum’s collection of drawings, photographs and watercolours.

Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills will include works by many artists from Britain and beyond who found inspiration in the British landscape including Thomas Gainsborough, Joseph Wright of Derby, Richard Wilson, Augustus John, John Constable, J. M. W. Turner, Alfred Sisley, Claude Monet, and Oskar Kokoschka.

David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru, said, “We are delighted to be able to present this important exhibition on British landscape painting to four venues in the US, offering visitors the chance to see these magnificent works of art for the first time.

“This is the second occasion that Amgueddfa Cymru has partnered with the American Federation of Arts, following the highly successful 2009-10 North American tour of ‘Turner to Cezanne: Masterpieces from the Davies Collection’.

“This international partnership will give American audiences the chance to learn more about British painting and the Welsh landscape, through works selected entirely from Wales’ national art collection. We hope that Pastures Green and the publicity it generates will inspire more people from the United States to visit Wales.”

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said, “I am delighted that this prestigious exhibition will be touring in the U.S. Our arts bodies and museums do a great deal to boost tourism and raise the profile of Wales in the world. Building on the success of the recent Davies Sisters’ tour, this latest exhibition promises to showcase Wales to new audiences.”

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales operates seven museums across Wales including National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans: National History Museum, the National Roman Legion Museum, Big Pit: National Coal Museum, the National Wool Museum, the National Slate Museum and the National Waterfront Museum.

Entry to the Museum is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Government.

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Standard bearers of local pride and iconic features of the contemporary Welsh landscape, they have moved audiences the world over with their stirring harmonies.

Written by Gareth Williams, one of Wales’s leading cultural historians, Do You Hear the People Sing? The Male Voice Choirs of Wales , traces the origins and growth of male voice choral singing in Wales from the 19th century to the present day, using the Eisteddfod as a lens through which to view its development.

Their reputation for excellence was often forged by their fierce rivalries on the stage of the National Eisteddfod where they would compete in front of crowds of up to 20,000.

Uniquely, the book records the winners of every male choral competition as the choirs fought for supremacy at the ‘National’, in an unbroken sequence since 1881, along with the stern and sometimes caustic remarks of adjudicators.

This is the biography of a famous tradition – a story about Wales, its people and its culture.In his foreword, founder and musical director of Only Men Aloud and Only Boys Aloud, Tim Rhys-Evans describes the book as a “compelling account of Wales’s most famous musical export”.

Laced with humour, the book will settle countless arguments of the kind that still rage among choir aficionados. There are chapters dedicated to the choral giants of Morriston, Treorchy, Pendyrus, Pontarddulais and Rhos but also the successes of smaller choirs and more recently the emergence of slick professional outfits like Only Men Aloud.

The fluctuating fortunes of choirs during times of prosperity and poverty and the sacrifices they made during two world wars and in the teeth of industrial depression, reveals what singing together meant to these often embattled communities.

The day of the Welsh male voice choir is far from over; it has always adapted to changing times and taste, and the book ends where it begins, on the field of the Millennium Stadium in front of 70,000 followers, for like rugby the male voice choir is a tradition with a special Welsh resonance that continues to arouse the passions and touch the emotions of millions.

Do You Hear the People Sing? The Male Voice Choirs of Wales will be launched at the Heritage Park Hotel, Trehafod on Monday, 7 th of December, 7pm.

Do You Hear the People Sing? The Male Voice Choirs of Wales is published by Gomer Press and is available from all good bookshops and online retailers

For more information, please visit

About Gareth Williams

Recently retired from the University of South Wales, Gareth Williams is one of Wales’s foremost social and cultural historians. A well-known writer and broadcaster, he has published widely on the history of Welsh rugby, boxing and choral singing. He writes in a scholarly but stylish manner that is always accessible to the general reader. He is a member of one of Wales's most famous male choirs, Pendyrus.

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I'm currently setting up a new Theatrical Production Company in Swansea, called Tent Of Xerxes. Our first project is a season of Three Anti war plays to be staged at The Grand Theatre's Arts Wing - The plays, all by American Playwrights, explore the physical and Psychological Traumas caused by war - They are The Body Of An American by Dan O'Brien - Grounded by George Brent - Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun adapted for the stage by Bradley Rand Smith.

We are funding these productions by using Crowdfunding - we have a target of £2000 - I am approaching companies to make donations, but through Facebook, and other social media sites, I'm asking individuals to "Pledge a pound" that's a British £1 - which translates into $1. 54 American money. I'm using the Crowdfunding site "Wefund" - so if anyone here would like to donate £1 or its equivalent, I'd be very Grateful. The money raised from the three productions, would be re-invested into future productions, and the setting up of an Actors-writers workshop - It would be a place where writers could interact with actors, in a workshop situation, to create new works for the stage - Tent Of Xerxes would help develop the plays, to be produced in front of an audience, or as an audio podcast that people, worldwide, could listen to online.

Please Make a donation of just £1 (or its equivalent) at help-set-up-a-theatrical- production-company-in-swansea- to-stage-a-season-of-three- anti-war-plays/p66131/

You can find out more about us at our website

or like our Facebook Page

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Aberfan - A Poem by Terry Breverton

By AmeriCymru, 2014-08-11

Back to Welsh Literature page >

Aberfan Cemetary

© Copyright Tom Jolliffe and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Terry Breverton : "The poem was all published in my The Path To Inexperience in 2002. Even then there had been consistent rumours about George Thomas’ paedophilic tendencies, shared with other political leaders of his era. He is still ‘honoured’ in Wales, which is a disgrace." For more from Terry Breverton on AmeriCymru check out the links below.



For the sculptured novelist and bon viveur Martin Amis, as quoted in discussion with A.N. Wilson, The London Evening Standard, 17th July 1991.........this was before he spent over £20,000 upon having his rotten teeth transformed into humanoid ones and left his wife for a younger model.......

“The South Waleyans are a particularly bitter and deracinated breed”. He began a bad-taste joke about Aberfan causing a “ripple of pleasure” through the mining valleys, but he choked it back with a giggle.....Martin does the Welsh voice with an accuracy which reflects real loathing”.


The Lordship of Senghenydd

Green on Grey on Black

Betrayed by Norman Englishmen

A Thousand-Year Attack


On the only nation

Which has never

Declared war

On anyone


We were your first and last colony

And a prototype of ethical cleansing

You almost killed our language

Because it was fifteen-hundred years older than yours

With your Welsh Not just out of living memory

You killed our Church at the Synod of Whitby

Taking it away from the people and giving it to Rome

You gave us a higher density of castles and forts

Than anywhere in the world

You killed the old laws of Hywel Dda

Because they looked after the people and accepted women as equal

And instead gave all rights

in ascending importance

to people with property and titles

You tried to kill our countryside with water on villages

Like Trywerin and charge us more than your Middle Saesneg for it

You tried to kill our culture by using our best in your wars

And you stripped out all our minerals.............


In return you gave us nystagmus and insanity;

Emphysema, silicosis, pneumoconiosis - slow death


And fast death................... ......

Last century, children under 8 spent hours in the pitch black opening and closing the trapper doors of ventilation tunnels. If over 8, they dragged baskets of coal to the bottom of the shaft.

In 1840, 6-year-old Susan Reece said ‘I have been below six or eight months and I don’t like it much. I come here at 6 in the morning and leave at 6 at night. When my lamp goes out or I am hungry I go home. I haven’t been hurt yet'. Her mission was to open and close the ventilator at Plymouth Colliery, Merthyr Tydfil.

The boys who, with chains around their waist, pulled trucks of coal through galleries too low for pit-ponies, were called ‘carters’. James Davies, an 8-year-old carter, reported that he earned 10 pennies a week, which his father took from him. John Saville, a 7-year-old carter, said that he was always in the dark and only saw daylight on Sundays.


Listen to my inventory of lost human capital:


1825 Cwmllynfell 59 men and children killed in an explosion

1842 The English Parliament under Lord Shaftesbury forbids the employment

Underground of women, girls and BOYS UNDER 10 years old

As miners

The mine owners opposed the bill and there was little inspection

1844 Dinas Middle, Rhondda, 12 men and boys killed

1849 Lletyshenkin, Aberdare, 52 men and boys killed in an explosion

1849 Merthyr, Dowlais, Rhondda 884 people killed by cholera

1852 Middle Duffryn, Aberdare, 65 men and boys killed in an explosion

1856 Cymmer, Porth, 114 killed

7 of the 114 were UNDER THE AGE of 10, 7 were 10, and 7 were 11 years old

1867 Ferndale, Rhondda, 178 killed

1869 Ferndale, Rhondda, another 60 killed

1877 Tynewydd 5 killed in a flooded pit

1880 Naval Colliery, Rhondda, 96 killed in an explosion

1885 Maerdy 81 killed in an explosion


The first “firemen” were covered with water-soaked rags and crawled towards seepages with a naked flame on a long stick to explode the gas


Some survived


Methane = Firedamp

Carbon Monoxide = Afterdamp

Carbon Dioxide = Blackdamp

Hydrogen Sulphide = Stinkdamp


In 1889, there were no major disasters

- it was a good year

- just 153 deaths in the pits.


Among them............


John Evans age 14 killed in a roof fall at Ocean Colliery, Treorchy

Thomas Evans age 16 killed in a roof fall at Seven Sisters, Neath

James Minhan age 13 fell from shaft at Great Western Colliery, Pontypridd

Thomas Jones age 17 rushed by trams at Cwmheol Colliery, Aberdare

Thomas Jones age 17 knocked down by tram at Duffryn Main, Neath

Morgan Harris age 16 run over by a coal wagon at No 9 Pit, Aberdare

James Webber age 17 killed by falling stone at No 1 Pit, Ferndale

Richard Jones age 17 killed in roof fall at Abercanaid Colliery, Merthyr

Thomas Cooper age 15 killed by a roof fall at Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd

Joseph Grey age 17 crushed between tram and coal face Gendros Colliery, Swansea

John Howells age 13 crushed by trams at Penrhiwceiber Colliery

Thomas Davies age 17 head crushed between crossbar and tram at Cwmaman Colliery

Thomas Pocket age 16 killed in roof fall at Brithdir Colliery, Neath

Thomas Evans age 17 killed in roof fall at Dunraven Colliery, Treherbert

Richard Martin age 15 killed in roof fall at Coegnant Colliery, Maesteg

David Jones age 17 crushed by tram at North Tunnel Pit, Dowlais

William Meredith age 15 crushed by pit cage at Maritime Colliery, Pontypridd

Aaron Griffiths age 14 crushed by tram at Clydach Vale Colliery

W.R. Evans age 15 died in roof fall at North Dunraven Colliery, Treherbert

Henry Jones age 14 killed in roof fall at Blaenclydach Colliery, Clydach Vale

Samuel Harris age 14 killed in roof fall at Fforchaman Colliery, Cwmaman

Joseph Jones age 16 killed in roof fall at Ynyshir Colliery

John Barwell age 13 fell into side of tram at Clydach Vale Colliery

Thomas Welsh age 15 killed in roof fall at Nantymelyn Colliery, Aberdare

Walter Martin age 15 killed in roof fall at Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd

Robert Thomas age 17 killed in roof fall at Treaman Pit, Aberdare

David Thomas age 17 killed in roof fall at Old Pit, Gwaun Cae Gurwen

Thomas Evans age 13 run over by trams at Glamorgan Steam Colliery, Llwynypia

David Arscott age 14 run over by tram at Abercanaid Colliery, Merthyr

Ben Rosser age 14 killed by fall of rock at Gadlys New Pit, Aberdare

William Osborne age 14 crushed in engine wheels at Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd


1892 Parc Slip 114 killed - in a gas blast - the school had a half holiday


1893 A Health Report on the Rhondda Valleys stated ‘the river contained a large proportion of human excrement, pig sty manure, congealed blood, entrails from slaughterhouses, the rotten carcasses of animals, street refuse and a host of other articles - in dry weather the stink becomes unbearable’


1894 Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd - 290 killed of the 300 on the shift - 11 could not be identified. One miner’s head had been blown 20 yards from his body. “All trough the darkness the dismal ritual of bringing up the dead continued, illuminated only by the pale fitful glare of the surrounding oil lamps....each arrival of the cage quenched the glimmer of hope that lived in the hearts of those who waited” A court case was brought against the mine owners and managers but all serious charges were dropped.


There is no compensation

For the dust of our land

Now in our lungs

And in every pore of our bodies

Except our white eyes


A solitary





Was unlucky to survive

The 1901 explosion

At Universal Colliery, Senghenydd

When 81 miners died


A forewarned accident

But never responsibility

So back to work, it is lads

Serene immutability


For the company,

Lewis Merthyr Consolidated Collieries Ltd.,

All charges were of course dismissed


1901 Morgan Morgans died in a fall at Cymmer Colliery, Porth, which pushed him onto a pick axe, which went through his head. His son, Dai Morgans, aged 13, witnessed the accident and was so traumatised that he never worked again


1905 National Colliery, Wattstown, 109 killed and the first disaster at Cambrian Colliery, Clydach Vale, 31 killed


October 14 1913,

Let us return to Senghenydd

Same pit, different scale

Cover their faces with their coats

There are plenty more Welsh males


The Universal was known as a “fiery” pit, full of hidden methane-filled caverns.A miner went to the lamp room to light his wick, a roof-fall nearby released methane into the tunnel, the explosion ignited the coal dust, and the fire caused a massive second explosion that roared up the Lancaster Section of the pit, smashing through the workings.


The fires could not be put out for a week, during which all but 18 of the survivors died of carbon monoxide poisoning


The pit cage was blown right out of its shaft

Into the clear blue air


Aged a little over 14 years

Harry Wedlock’s first day

As a colliery boy was spent in tears

With cracking timber falling away


Fire and foul air filled his chest

While Sidney Gregory cwtched him best

As he could in the black smoke and dust

2000 feet under the management offices


Upon October 14, 1913, at the Universal Colliery

The dead included:

8 children of 14 years

5 children of 15 years

10 children of 16 years

44 children of 17 to 19 years

And......................377 other miners


8 bodies were never identified and 12 could not be recovered


Of the 440 dead, 45 men were from Commercial Street, Senghenydd

and 35 from the High Street


Not one street in Senghenydd was spared -

Parc Cottages 1 dead

Gelli Terrace 2 dead

School Street 2 dead

Windsor Place 2 dead

Cross Street 2 dead

Clive Street 3 dead

Kingsley Place 4 dead

The Huts 6 dead

Alexandra Terrace 8 dead

Station Road 8 dead

Brynhyfryd Terrace 8 dead

Phillips Terrace 9 dead

Coronation Terrace 10 dead

Station Terrace 11 dead

Woodland Terrace 12 dead

Graig Terrace 14 dead

Parc Terrace 15 dead

Grove Terrace 19 dead

Stanley Street 20 dead

Cenydd Terrace 22 dead

Caerphilly Road 39 dead

High Street 40 dead

Commercial Street 44 dead


Some women lost their husbands in 1901 and their sons in 1913


Mrs Benjamin of Abertridwr lost her husband and

both her sons, aged 16 and 14


At 68 Commercial Street, the widowed Mrs Twining lost

each one of her 3 sons, the youngest aged 14


Richard and Evan Edwards, father and son, of 44 Commercial Street, were found dead together


Half the village rugby team died -

They changed their strip from black and white

To black


For weeks, there was no rugby on Saturday

..................................................only funerals


In 12 homes, both father and son died


“When Edwin John Small died

with his 21 year-old son

it left his 18 year-old daughter Mary

to rear 6 children

the youngest 3 years old”


A survivor, William Hyatt, recalled


“My father always said

That there was more fuss

If a horse was killed underground

Than if a man was killed..............

Men come cheap

...........................they had to buy horses”


Houses are better than people we know

But that’s not the reason the argue

They’re all tax exempt for those in the know

We know of a price, not a value


It was 75 years ago today

That the pit boss brought the band to play

But it didn’t help him

They’ve been going in and out of style

But they’re guaranteed to raise a pile

The manager was found guilty on 8 charges

So let me introduce to you

The one and only real scapegoat

Of breaches of the 1911 Coal Mines Act

And fined £24..............


Five-pence ha’penny a corpse

In old money to us

2 p to you


There was no compensation

Wrth gwrs


For the company,

Lewis Merthyr Consolidated Collieries Ltd.,

All charges were

Of course



But we appealed, we showed 'em


And Lewis Merthyr Consolidated Collieries Ltd.

Were fined £10

With costs of £5 and 5 shillings

The copper content of the bodies


There was no compensation


“We slunk to the biblical parlours to stare in shock

At the coke of flesh in the coffin, the ashes of a voice;

There we learned above the lids screwed down before their time

Collects of red rebellion, litanies of violence”


In Senghenydd and Abertridwr

The graves are brambled now

Monuments overgrown

The 14 year-old’s place

Into the ground is sewn


Death rolls around this country

A skull with dust in its sockets


1915 Thomas Williams was killed at Lucy Drift Mine, Abercanaid, leaving a widow and seven children, five of whom were still at home. No compensation was paid.


St David’s Day, 1927 Marine Colliery, Cwm, Ebbw Vale - 52 dead


Half a mile underground

1934 Gresford

262 colliers dead

And 3 of the rescue brigade

Despite the shotfirer’s premonition

About the gas in Dennis Deep Section


“The fireman’s reports are all missing

The records of 42 days,

The colliery manager had them destroyed

To cover his evil ways”


Charges? What charges?


The dust comes out of the ground

Into our silicotic lungs

To be vomited near to death

Not hootering death

But doubled-up suffering wheezing darkness before our time death


Buckets of death feed the flames

More dust goes on the slag heaps


Fear of tears, insider squealing, new markets, Newmarket and

The Falklands hide the blameless obscenity of pulverised spines


The Great War hid Senghenydd

A slag heap hid the school

Can hate fade like pain?


Who wants to know?


Between 1837 and 1934 there were more than 70 disasters in Welsh mines,

And in 11, more than 100 were killed in a single day


Who worries, Lord Bute?

Fill the boneyards and build mock castles over them


1931 Cilely Colliery, Tonyrefail, John Jones killed. Wife and four children receive £6 compensation


1937 - from the notebook of Idris Davies, miner and poet - ‘I looked at my hand and saw a piece of white bone shining like snow, and the flesh of the little finger all limp. The men supported me, and one ran for an ambulance box down the heading, and there I was fainting away like a little baby girl.’


Davies understood the sullen slavery of his fellow colliers -


‘There are countless tons of rock above his head,

And gases wait in secret corners for a spark;

And his lamp shows dimly in the dust.

His leather belt is warm and moist with sweat,

And he crouches against the hanging coal,

And the pick swings to and fro,

And many beads of salty sweat play about his lips

And trickle down the blackened skin

To the hairy tangle on the chest.

The rats squeak and scamper among the unused props

And the fungus waxes strong.


And Dai pauses and wipes his sticky brow,

And suddenly wonders if his baby

Shall grow up to crawl in the local Hell,


And if tomorrow’s ticket will buy enough food for six days,

And for the Sabbath created for pulpits and bowler hats,

When the under-manager cleans a dirty tongue

And walks with the curate’s maiden aunt to church .......


Again the pick resumes the swing of toil,

And Dai forgets the world where merchants walk in morning streets,

And where the great sun smiles on pithead and pub and church-steeple.’


1941 Coedely Colliery - Hugh Jones was killed and his mother received £15 compensation, of which the coffin cost £14 14s. She went to the pit with the £15 and waved it at miners, shouting “Look, boys, get out of this pit as quick as you can - because this is all your lives are worth”


1941 Markham Colliery - Leslie James killed, family also receives £15 for the funeral


1947 Lewis Merthyr Colliery - George Waite killed - wife and five children receive £500 compensation


1947 Lewis Merthyr Colliery - 18 year old Neil Evans suffocated in roof fall. His family receives £200 compensation but the National Coal Board takes away their entitlement to free coal in return


Between 1931 and 1948, of the 23000 men who left mining because of pneumoconiosis, almost 20,000 came out of the South Wales pits.


1950 Maritime Colliery, Pontypridd - John Phillips dies - no compensation for family


1951 Wern Tarw Colliery - two brothers, Aaron and Arthur Stephens were killed in a roof fall - Aaron’s widow received £200 compensation, and Arthur’s widow £250. The differential was explained by the fact that Arthur had two children.


1957 Bedwas Colliery - Bobby John killed - parents receive £300 compensation


1960 Six Bells Colliery, Abertillery, 45 dead


In 1961 No 7 Pantglas Tip was started, on top of a mountain stream, next to 6 other slag heaps on boggy ground on the side of a hill. Directly underneath it was Pantglas School. There were local protests.


1962 Tower Colliery, 9 dead - Dai Morris was decapitated. The miner with him reminisced “when the nurse pulled my shirt off, she pulled away half my skin with it”


Ken Strong died - his wife, Mary was only 32 and never left her home for 15 years until she died in 1977


No 7 Pantglas Tip was getting bigger - the National Coal Board - a nameless, faceless, ignorant bureaucracy, used it to deposit “tailings”, tiny particles of coal and ash.


1963 a Merthyr Council official wrote to the National Coal Board “You are no doubt aware that tips at Merthyr Vale tower above the Pantglas area and if they were to move a very serious situation would accrue”


When wet, tailings form a consistency identical to quicksand


1965 Another disaster at Cambrian Colliery, Tonypandy, with 31 dead in the explosion


But we digress, it was only a ‘small’ disaster - hardly touched the ‘Nationals’


Let us instead return to Merthyr Vale and Pantglas

TO IDRIS DAVIES - Mike Jenkins

By AmeriCymru, 2011-10-14

Back to Welsh Literature page >

AmeriCymru proudly presents 'To Idris Davies' ,... a poem by Mike Jenkins. Diolch Mike!


The pits long left your valley,

the bells have ceased to toll,

estates of houses and industry

but faces like punctured balls.

Because most works in the city

far from your one-street town

where shops are wearing shutters

and the postman brings a frown.

Im searching for you on the terrace,

the plaque a word-won medal,

searching also in the Library

where youre cherished, pens nestled.

The desert today is inside many,

those boozers, smokers and druggies

who stagger past the cemetery,

cravings always digging deeper.

And if you could walk to Merthyr

over moors, the way the bus takes me,

youd find a huge hollow in the hills

where seagulls circle like vultures.

But you would still mark them here

from bakery to chippie to caf,

those folk who chat and joke and care,

those selfsame people of Rhymney.



Mike Jenkins website

An Interview with Welsh Poet Mike Jenkins

Journey of The Taf

Idris Davies

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Visit Jen Delyth''s site here:- Jen Delyth Celtic Art Studio

Jen Delyth San Francisco Celtic artist, Jen Delyth , is known worldwide for the original and iconic mixture of old and new in her beautiful work. Delyth''s paintings, illustrations and design marry new technique and composition concepts with deeply rooted cultural and mythological themes.About her art, Jen has written, "I am intrigued by the marriage of old and new, ancient and future. This work is a personal journey into the language of Celtic myth and symbol, the beauty of nature, a simple interpretation of Celtic spirituality expressing the Mystery of the inter-connectedness and balance of all things."

AmeriCymru: You were born in south Wales. Can you tell us a little about your background?

Jen: I was actually born in the Welsh borderlands of the Wye valley, not far from Tintern Abbey. Offa''s dyke ran behind our garden - an 8th century earthwork built by the Anglo Saxon king to keep the Welsh out of Mercia. When I was a few years old, we moved back to South Wales, to my mother''s family in the Port Talbot area. My Great Grandfather came as a boy from Cornwall, at the turn of the century, when the tin mines ran dry, to find work in the local steel industries, which were fueled by the coal from the Valleys. My parents were young teachers, and later we lived in the small village of Penllergaer, on the edge of the Gower Peninsula, which is known for its natural beauty, ancient history, and lovely beaches. They live there now in the village of Llangennith - the Church of the Celtic Saint Kenneth/Cenydd - who was said to have been raised by seagulls and fed by the milk of a doe, and later established a monastery there in the 6th century.

Celtic Folk Soul AmeriCymru: When did you begin to realize that you had a talent for art? Did you have any family, friends or teachers along the way that encouraged you?

Jen: I did not realize for a long time that I would one day become a visual artist. I have not studied art in school, and am completely self taught. I chose philosophy as my main subject at University, and then taught myself photography, doing some freelance work in London for a while before I came to the States.

I don''t remember being particularly exposed to the visual arts as a child, but there was music, poetry and drama, which I enjoyed and participated in. I was an active member of the Urdd - the youth Eisteddfod - singing and reading Welsh texts on behalf of my school.

I remember being given a book of Greek mythology when I was young, and it really caught my attention. It was my interest in myths and legends that first inspired me to create iconographic symbols and archetypes using the language of the folk art of my own culture.

In the beginning, creating Celtic patterning was an intuitive playful process. I quickly became compelled and intrigued by the rhythms and intricate balance, the push and pull and inherent mystical content of this art form, that 20 years later developed into this body of work that I am now proud to have created.

Celtic Tree - Jen Delyth

Celtic Tree - Jen Delyth

As a self taught artist, I learned by doing, experimenting, and from personal studies. I felt it was important to create authentic new original Celtic artwork, to contribute to the living tradition, rather than simply coping the old existing designs which seemed to be more usual. I think it was also a response to missing my home - Hiraeth - when I moved to northern California after meeting my husband Scott - a Jazz musician - whilst traveling. I became more aware of who I was, and where I had come from in having left, and it drew my attention to the intensely creative wealth of folk lore and imagery that I perhaps took for granted back in Wales.

I was encouraged very much by my family and friends when I started working as a Celtic artist. My mother has always been active in Welsh folk culture, and it seemed quite natural for me to follow the threads forward in my own way, with my own style, and to be doing so in the States where so many others had come before as immigrants - although I had not particularly planned on this!

AmeriCymru: It would appear that you possess a fair amount of knowledge about the Celts. When did this information become of real interest to you? Do you have any favorite Welsh or Celtic myths?

Jen: I started a personal interest in Celtic studies at the same time as I began creating images that drew from themes in Welsh myth and folk lore. I remember my mother telling me about the Mabinogion that she read as a child, and I was already interested in the ideas of contemporary philosophers such as Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung, who drew insight and wisdom from the mysticism of the ancient mythologies of the world, which was very inspiring to me.

My favourite Welsh Myths are the story of Taliesin - the mythic Poet, and Blodeuwedd who transforms into the Owl. Also I love the legend of the early Welsh Saint Melangell- Protector of the Hare. These are characters that connect our spirituality with nature, through representing archetypes in our psyche that continue to resonate within us today.

Garden - Jen Delyth

Garden - Jen Delyth

AmeriCymru: Okay, we have to ask about your Celtic Tree of Life design. When and how did the inspiration for this work happen? And when did you begin to realize that this design was taking on a huge life of its own? When you think about it, it seems that this iconic image has reached past the Celtic world and has spoken to many people across this planet. How does that strike you?

Jen: The inspiration for my Celtic Tree of Life (in 1989) was a very simple and natural idea to portray this universal symbol as an iconographic Celtic symbol. There are no actual images of trees in depicted in Celtic antiquity, such as in any of the old illuminated manuscripts, or ancient stone or metal works, only as abstracted vine patterns and so on. I appreciate trees and forests very much (in fact my first art business was called Dryad Graphics - Dryads are the spirits of the trees. The basic image took only a few hours, and then some more to refine it. I was pleased with it, but had no idea of its future impact- or the complications that this image would create for us!

We began to realize it was taking a life of its own, when we started seeing the design chosen as body art - tattoos, and receiving many requests to use the image for personal logos. We also found it was being used quite a bit on the internet, and realized many people were perceiving it as an ancient design, and not a contemporary work, which is a great compliment, but also makes it difficult to protect the copyright. A friend once described it as having become like a "folk song" out in the world. Which is lovely. However, we do have to work diligently to control use of the design in the commercial arena, and to educate the public on copyright and appropriate credit whenever possible.

I'm very proud of having contributed a symbol that does seem to resonate to many people, including both Christians and Pagans, ecologists, healers and scientists, those of Celtic heritage, and anyone who appreciates Trees!

AmeriCymru: The original Celtic Tree of Life -- what media did you use to create it? What media do you enjoy working with the most?

Jen: The original design was simply sketched on paper, which I like to do at first, working out and refining the design. Then, since I wanted to adapt the image to different mediums for my crafts business at the time, I often used a digital vector-drawing tools (Adobe Illustrator) - which was very new back in 1989 - to refine it. The graphic arts computer (a Mac SE) was only recently available back then, and I was very excited at the time about using such modern technology, to work with creating ancient symbols. The Celts were known to excel at adapting new tools and processes such as the compass for example, or metal making techniques, and I remember thinking how appropriate it was, to be a 20th century Celtic artist, using this most modern tool (the computer), as part of my the authentic process, rather than simply emulating the methods and styles of history.

To balance out this technical medium, I also enjoy - depending on what mood I''m in - using pencils, pens, oil, acrylic or watercolor - and my favorite - egg tempera painting. Egg tempera was being used by the ancient Egyptians, and a slightly different version on the illuminated manuscripts created by the Celtic Scribes - using natural ground pigments and precious stones, and creating a medium with egg yolk (or egg white) to make the paint. This on top of hand made gesso on birch boards. I love this medium the most, as its organic, luminous, and aesthetically lovely to work with.

Awen - Jen Delyth

Awen - Jen Delyth

AmeriCymru: Many of your images evoke a very dream-like essence (The Garden comes to mind). Do your images come to you in dreams? You also must receive a lot of email and letters from those who appreciate your efforts. Do you ever get ideas from them that find their way into your artwork? Have you ever been commissioned to do work? If so, how does that work?

Jen: My images are usually formed through abstracting and weaving together particular mythic or symbolic content, more than from dreams. But its true that sometimes when resting, or perhaps when walking along the beach, when I am not particularly thinking about my work, that an image does pop up. I remember in particular with "The Garden" that you mention, that I was just coming out of an afternoon nap, when I envisioned the motif of the dragonfly integrated into the fore-head and nose of the main figure, which then intuitively and visually translated into a deeper "shamanic" connection between the Dragonfly and the anthropomorphic image of the Green Man/Woman as nature deity. Which was a gift from the muse for sure! The best inspirations do seem to come from being open and relaxed and channeling through yourself as an artist, rather than forcing the design.

I do get a fair amount of positive correspondence - which is what keeps me going I think at times! There have not been a lot of art collaborations exactly, but yes, sometimes a request for an image does inspire new work. I don''t take commissions very often, as my work is time consuming, and it would be expensive really. I prefer to focus without the pressure of translating for someone else, and don''t really have so much time to do that well. But working closely with my publisher to pull projects together has a collaborative synergy sometimes that I enjoy very much.

AmeriCymru: Your work has inspired reviewers, art critics, and the public at large. When did you realize that you might actually be able to make a living doing what you love?

Jen: It was very humble beginnings to be honest. I had no idea when I started that there would be so much interest or a market for my work. I made a few simple textile designs and prints for a local crafts fair, just for fun really, back in 1990, and the response was so overwhelmingly positive, I realized I could maybe make a humble living doing this full time. I quickly began to understand that many Americans were hungry for connection with their heritage, and that Welsh, Irish and Scottish immigrants - of course - were a large group in this country, who very much valued their roots. It was not why I began, or the focus of my work, however the support of this community did help my journey as an artist.

Apart from creating a business though, something in me was always compelled to push the originality and authenticity of my style. I wanted to express something meaningful in my work, and to learn and grow as an artist, as a visual mythologist really - using my culture and the language of Celtic art as the vocabulary - to talk about spirituality, nature, and how we connect with that on a deep level.

AmeriCymru: Given the massive size of the body or art you have created, one wonders if you work alone or if you have a legion of artistic employees. Can you tell us something about the business side of your work? What is a typical day like for you?

Jen: I think that for many years, I was extremely motivated and my creative period didn''t stop even when maybe it would have been good to have some time off! There were so many designs that called to me to be fleshed out, to tell the story of Celtic spirituality and mysticism, that I was just simply obsessed I suppose! I work alone, in my home garden studio, although my husband and partner Scott has always been there to support and provide honest feedback. I have received requests to teach or to take on apprentice help, but I work intensely, and prefer to be alone in my process.

On the business side, I started the fledgling Dryad Graphics in 1988, which grew into a international art and gift company Keltic Designs Inc. when my husband Scott left his teaching career to join me. Along with the art and design, I continue to do the more technical web work and product development, and my partner Scott manages the business. I also enjoy working closely with my publishers Amber Lotus, who encourage and give me total creative control, and I respect their positive vision and collaborative spirit very much.

AmeriCymru: What projects are you currently involved with? What can we see from Jen Delyth in the near future?

Jen: Ah.. this is the question! After finishing my book "Celtic Folk Soul - art, myth and symbol" last year, I have been on my first sabbatical, since I started working over 20 years ago. This book felt like I had completed the body of work - and I''m not sure quite what to do next in a way!

In "Celtic Folk Soul" I learned to write - encouraged by my publishers who insisted I provided the text for the book - and enjoyed that very much. I would say I would like to continue writing and perhaps illustrate another book - but that also took a lot of time, energy, and resources. But it was very exciting and satisfying to pull all my designs and paintings together, with poetry and mythology, history and folklore. Maybe I''d like to teach and share what I have learned, pass it on to others. Maybe just walk along the beach with my dog Tân, cook dinners for my friends, and pull some weeds a little while longer. We''ll have to see.

AmeriCymru: Do you have any message for your admirers and friends at AmeriCymru?

Jen: I appreciate very much the often hard journey that so many made to come to this country from Wales, and the roots that have been planted here. I am mysteriously part of this movement westward, bringing my culture with me, as so many have done before. I hope that we will not forget where we came from, the beautiful green and brackened land of poets and farmers, dragons and saints, chapels and ancient stone circles, and my favorite - Great Aunt Bronwen''s welsh cakes on the griddle! Ysbryd tragwyddol y keltiad - the spirit of the Celts is eternal! Diolch, Jen Delyth

Melangell  - Jen Delyth
Melangell - Jen Delyth

Interview by Brian y Tarw Llwyd


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