Great British Adventure: the beginnings

near Mount Snowdon in Wales

In the winter of 2017 the University I teach at (Savannah College of Art and Design) was kind enough to grant me a sabbatical. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do with this sabbatical, but in the end I decided on a project that involved doing research to develop ideas for my artwork and learning how to cast in glass to be able to add cast glass to my new work.

I have always been very interested botany and include botanically inspired imagery in my artwork.  I also have used family history in my work to build narratives about human relationships, and I have a life long interest in archeology.  I decided to combine these interests and planned a month long trip to Great Britain, where I am doing visual research for my artwork.

Traveling has long been considered a good way to gain inspiration, so with that in mind I decided to set out on my adventure exploring places that I had long wanted to see.  I wouldn’t describe myself as an Anglophile by any stretch of the imagination, but I did spend a good part of my childhood reading classic British literature.  My favorite book was A Secret Garden. The descriptions of the moors and the garden were very appealing to me. I have always been fascinated by watching plants grow, particularly in the springtime. As I am writing this I am sitting in a classic English garden in the countryside of Staffordshire. It is the first sunny day of the trip so far. I have already had many adventures, some more fun than others.

Where we have been:
Salisbury (where I finally got phone service sorted out) and Stonehenge

Dartmoor/ Tavistock area in Devon (where I wanted to see Neolithic stones, but instead saw the tire center)

St. Ives in Cornwall (where I went to the Leach pottery)

Conmach in Wales (where we hiked and I got to see some unique plants and lots of sheep)

Mount Snowdon in Wales (where I saw my first heather in bloom, saw lots more sheep, and some more new and interesting plants)

Consall in Staffordshire (where I visited the potteries and wandered the classic English gardens of our B&B)

Haltwhistle in Northumberland (where we saw a Roman fort and visited Hadrian's wall as well as seeing many more sheep)


My favorite part about visiting Stonehenge wasn't seeing the stones, it was the exhibit of historical Stonehenge souvenirs showing all of the ways the site has been marketed.  Of course the Wedgwood was my favorite of these.
Quither Mill in Devon.  I went here to see the neolithic stones on Dartmoor, but ended up with 2 flat tires on the rental car and spent most of our time here dealing with the rental car company.  It was a beautiful place to stay though.

White Alice farm in Cornwall
It was romantic and foggy our first day in Cornwall. I was very interested in the profusion of foxglove growing wild.
The new studio space at the Leach pottery in Cornwall, managed by ex-pat American potter Kat Wheeler. This is where they produce the pottery they sell.  The artists can also use the space to make their own work. They train apprentices, but they also have more experienced potters.

view of the kiln furniture in the kiln room at the Leach pottery.

BrynTeg holiday cottage in Wales

Bryn Teg was isolated up a hill that had no motor vehicle access, so it felt very remote even though it really wasn't. A feeling I enjoy.

These chimney pots were part of the view from Bryn Teg

I am starting to develop quite the collection of chimney pot images, who new they could be so interesting

Mount Snowdon shrouded in fog in the background. We went to Wales because I wanted to see some of the unique flora around Mount Snowdon.
I found this very interesting grass there called bog cotton.
And I got to see my first heather in bloom in the wild.
I have been using sheep in my work recently so getting to see so many sheep up close was very helpful.  They are cute from a distance, but when you look at them closely they are a little disgusting.  I really enjoy this kind of contradiction in our perceptions.  The constructs that we create being confronted by reality.

wool caught on a branch, there is wool floating all over the pastures

Wildacres in Consall just outside of Stoke-on-Trent.  The gardens here were extensive and cannot be done justice in this short blog post.  The pond made me feel a little like I should be trying to plein air paint and pretend like I was Monet.
more of the gardens at Wildacres
The Black Lion pub in Consall, only accessible by foot or via the canal.
the pub had goats....
and chickens wandering around outside

The garden at Wildacres also contained tame pheasants and ducks.
Housesteads Roman fort along Hadrians wall in Northumberland.

Roman pottery found at the site, probably made in a mold.

More Roman artifacts.
Hiking around the fort.

The view from on top of Hadrian's wall.

Hiking along Hadrian's wall.