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Art workshops take inspiration from Kate Roberts' life
Y Lôn Wen/The White Lane, by Kate Roberts
Kate was inspired to write after the death of her brother during WWI

Artists are taking inspiration from the life of novelist Kate Roberts as the basis for creative workshops in her childhood home near Caernarfon.

One of the best known Welsh language authors, Kate Roberts recalled life in the quarry village of Rhosgadfan in her autobiography, Y Lôn Wen (The White Lane).

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of her death, the Courtyard Artists of Glynllifon will hold a series of art days at Cae'r Gors, the Kate Roberts heritage centre.

"We got a copy of The White Lane for inspiration," said Anglea Kerr, a jeweller who is a member of the artistic collective at Glynllifon, Caernarfon.

"We all found parts which are relevant to our work: it's really fun to see which parts different artists have chosen."

Angela took her lead from one of the more glamorous characters in Kate Roberts' memoir.

"There is a passage in the book where Kate remembers a girl who lives in a large house not far from Cae'r Gors and describes what she's wearing while wondering about her life," explained Angela.

"I remember doing it myself as a child: 'when I grow up, I want to wear lovely things like her', so I began to think what that character would have been wearing."

A Victorian hoop and hook toy
The Courtyard Artists offer taster sessions in their crafts all year round

Angela will be sharing her knowledge of how to recreate Victorian jewellery, mindful of the fact that it wasn't worn just as part of an outfit, but as a symbol of love, mourning or wealth, for example.

Blacksmith Ann Catrin Evans has been thinking about the kinds of toys Kate and her friends might have played with.

"Children back then appreciated things which were simple," said Ann. "It's so different to today, with people trying to sell you things all the time."

She's therefore set out to create a hoop and hook with which children would run along the road.

"They used to be so free to run and play anywhere, which is what the hoop needs. But we've got a yard at Glynllifon where we can all have a race," said Ann.

As quarrymen, Kate Roberts' father and brothers might have been interested to see what slate artist Dave Stephen will be creating.

"I picked up four quotes from the book," explained Dave. One of them, in the English translation, reads:

The place lies on the slopes of Moel Tryfan and Moel Smytho and beyond these two hills lies Mynydd Mawr. An elephant of a mountain with its trunk in Rhyd Ddu and beyond it is Snowdon.

Mynydd Mawr
Much of Kate's work was influenced by her Dyffryn Nantlle childhood

"Mynydd Mawr is amazing," said Dave. "When you look at it from Anglesey, it really does look like an elephant."

"Her descriptions really show the grandeur and beauty of the landscape, and its scale, which will hopefully give people some inspiration to try and capture some of that with slate."

By using a variety of shapes and hues, Dave wants to encourage those on the course to build up a 3D mosaic of Kate's world.

Fellow Courtyard artist Sioned Rowlands is turning to flowers and taking her lead from Te yn y Grug (Tea in the Heather), a collection of stories which very much relate to Kate's own childhood.

"We're going to be creating a wreath of flowers which will dry and last," she explained.

"We won't just use the heather itself, which grows as a flower, but also the wood part underneath which is quite knobbly and great to create the framework of the circle.

"I want to create the feeling that you can go for a walk and gather flowers to work with, rather than going out to buy everything."

Other workshops will use textiles and wood. For more information about the courses which run from Saturday, 24 April, go to www.iard.co.uk or contact 01286 830839.

Inside Kate Roberts' childhood home
14 Apr 10 |  History


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