For the last few years an idea has been bouncing around my head, sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly. I wanted to paint the people who were part of my upbringing in a small village in North Wales, UK. I wanted to thank them for their kindness, but so many had passed away how would I do it? If I tracked down old photographs to provide me with information, then at least I could thank their families. Little did I know how intriguing the impending journey would be!
I began with the two patriarchs, Ivor the Bryn and Eifion Mynydd Bychan, lifelong friends now in their nineties. In Wales people are identified by where they live or what they do. These two are farmers identified by the names of their farms. I will always remember the time I spent with them in Ivor’s kitchen. One story after another tumbled out as they teased each other, drank tea, and laughed uproariously. I was so privileged to be included, and I cherish the memory.
Thanks to helpful friends sending me old photographs, I have been able to paint those who have passed away. I’m surprised at the clear memories I have of each person, once I look at the image, and so it has become less of a factual documentation and almost totally an emotive experience for me. I feel I am managing to accomplish my mission. However, the test will be when the families see them. I hope they recognize their loved ones! At this point, I have done 15, about half way towards my goal for the first collection. As always, one idea sparks new ones, and the project is suggesting all sorts of new possibilities.