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Transient

Transient (unfinished)
Transient

Here is a view of the length of Bernard Street from the South end, looking towards Uplands. It was quite hard to paint as I felt that I was trying to capture an absence. The light cuts across an empty road. When I saw this scene late on a Sunday evening in August I was struck by this emptiness, absence. No people. No cars, anywhere along its length.

Usually there are are cars outside the convenience store half way along the road, but it was closed. In term time the road is crammed with cars belonging to students, some who live in the streets that branch off from Bernard Street, some are parents dropping their children off at the local schools, some are passing tradespeople, many more are students attending lectures on the Singleton Campus. Yet, on this summer evening there was no one. It was like a ghost town. This one image, more than any sums up the transient community that Brynmill has become. It has become an unsustainable community. A community without families, especially those with children is a dying community.

Brynmill and Uplands suffer from the fact that the majority of students are absent for about 4 months each year. The situation has parallels with that in North Wales and Cornwall, where holiday homes mean areas are practically deserted in the winter. This has resulted in businesses closing due to a lack of all year custom and for the same reason has led to closures of libraries, schools and GP practices. Here, and in Uplands many shops and businesses have closed and have been taken over by bars and coffee shops. Are the losses of our library, post offices, banks and local businesses due to the lack of all year trade?

In Brynmill there are no banks, post offices, libraries, swimming pools or leisure centre. The Victorian swimming baths opposite Victoria Park were pulled down years ago. The public toilets were also destroyed (the week before the preservation order was to come in place).  We have two junior schools but few of the children live locally. You see children walking to school but that’s only because their parents have parked in places like Bernard Street and walk them to school. The pollution caused by all this additional traffic has a negative effect on the environment and people’s health. Yes, we do still have a chip shop, a pub, a coffee house, a community centre, a bread shop, a convenience store, a launderette and a DIY store.  But for how much longer? Its difficult to sustain a business on 8 months’ trade. It was probably a large part of the reason why The Cricketer’s pub closed down.

Yet, Brynmill has so much to offer. It has two fantastic parks; Singleton and Brynmill. There is a university on our doorstep. It is 5-10 minutes walking distance from the seafront. There are several well attended churches. I love the sea air. It is mild here. We rarely have frosts. It has a Bohemian feel to the place. As an artist, I don’t think I would thrive in suburbia where people would expect you to be neat and tidy. I am not neat and tidy. I love the hilly, terraces and the mix of people. People are friendly. You can start a conversation with anyone in a shop and they talk back as if they know you.

I want this community to live and to thrive, not to become a hollowed out dead place full of strangers who know nothing about the area. This project has been part of that. I have asked questions and have found out about the people who were born and grew up here. I walked up and down streets and back lanes. Again and again, trying to catch the shadows at different times of the day. Morning is my favourite time. I have counted the number of houses that no longer have lounges with sofas at the front of the house but rather desks and beds for students. The official figures are wrong. There are many more student houses (HMO) that are on the council register.

This has become an unbalanced and unsustainable community. The Local council and Welsh assembly are ignoring the problem. Chasing short-term profit at the expense of people’s lives and the local economy.  I have seen the place where I have lived for 18 years in a different light and I have only scratched the surface. I want to keep digging.

 

Bernard St with cars
Bernard Street – weekend before start of term

 

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Up Sketty

I think that I have enough paintings for my “Hollowed Community” Project, for the time being. So now I am walking further afield to find new subjects. I walked up hill to Sketty, parts of which have fantastic views across Swansea Bay. I loved this large white house on the corner of a quiet street, Grosvenor Road,  because I think there is some of the “sea-side” light on this building although it’s further inland and Brynmill, where I live.

up skettyPG.jpg
Up Sketty
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Prints Selling …

I am delighted to have sold these two fab prints of “Donkey and Son” and “Blaze” to a collector in the USA.

Remember the introductory price of £25 (and that covers shipping) last only until 8th October so order your Christmas gifts early!

Animal Art Prints Gallery 

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Tenby Prints selling…

 

Better Tenby Print
Mounted print of “Tenby Reflections”

I am delighted to that sold this print of “Tenby Reflections” to a collector in my home town of Swansea.

Remember the introductory price of £25 (and that covers shipping) last only until 8th October so order your Christmas gifts early!

Buy your Tenby print here


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Swansea Prints

Mounted print of " From Beach to Brow"
Mounted print “From Beach to Brow”

I am now offering fine art prints directly to my followers and collectors. I sell signed and numbered prints of either 100 or 150 editions. They printed on professional quality Satin Photo Paper – 280gsm  – printed on a professional Canon Pro-100 series printer. They come individually prepared for framing with mounts, backs included and wrapped in clear plastic bags.

If you find any images on this website or elsewhere which are not in the gallery but which you would like printed as a giclee print contact me via email emmafcownie@gmail.com or via the comments section at the bottom of this page and I will include in the Prints Gallery.

Large Prints £45

&

Free Worldwide Shipping

Large Size (41 x 29 cm print only) with mount 50 x 40 cm

 

 

Swansea Prints

From Beach to Brow
From Beach to Brow

 

Brynmill from swansea Beach
Brynmill from Swansea Beach

 

Across Swansea Bay
Across Swansea Bay

 

Coming and Coming on swansea Beach
Coming and Going on Swansea Beach

 

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Tenby Prints for Sale

I am now offering fine art prints directly to my followers and collectors. I sell signed and numbered prints of either 100 or 150 editions. They printed on professional quality Satin Photo Paper – 280gsm  – printed on a professional Canon Pro-100 series printer.They come individually prepared for framing with mounts, backs included and wrapped in clear plastic bags.

Normal Price of Regular Sized print is £30

Plus Free World Wide Postage 

If you find any images on this website or elsewhere which are not in the gallery but which you would like printed as a giclee print contact me via email emmafcownie@gmail.com or via the comments section at the bottom of this page and I will include in the Prints Gallery.

Tenby Prints 

Regular size prints (29 x 20 cm print only) with mount 40 x 30 cm

 
Tenby Reflection
Painting of Tenby Harbour
 
tenby tide
Painting of Tenby at High Tide
 
Tenby in the Evening Light
Painting of Tenby Harbour in the Moonlight
 
tenby steps
Painting of Tenby Harbour Steps
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Pobbles and Three Cliffs Bay sold

Pobbles and Three Cliffs
Pobbles and Three Cliff Bay

I am delighted to have sold “Pobbles and Three Cliffs” on the last day of my exhibition at the Brynmill Coffee House, Swansea. It was bought by a collector from West Cross, Swansea. The exhibition space is now occupied by my husband, James Henry Johnson’s work for the month of September so pop along!

 

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Brandy Cove, Gower

Oil painting of Brandy Cove, Gower

Brandy Cove
Brandy Cove 30 x 24 cm

One of the many, many beautiful beaches that dot the glorious coastline of Gower peninsula. Brandy Cove, is located half a mile west of Caswell Bay, and can be reached by the undulating coastal in about 20 minutes.

It is probably Gower’s most infamous beach and is steeped in history and legend. The small cove gets its name from the days when smuggling was rife on the Gower Peninsula and the sands were used to land illicit cargo of tobacco and alcohol. At high tide, only the rocks of the bay are visible. At low tide a small apron of pebbles and sand are revealed by the retreating sea.

It was a very hot summer day when I visited and the cool sea water was an absolute delight to paddle in. At one point that afternoon, there was a large tan dog lying in the shadow of the rock, cooling off. I was drawn to the beautiful dark sand colour after the tide has retreated and the various colours of the monumental Rock in the sand. I really liked the sharp green of the seaweed temporarily stranded at low tide on the rocks in the foreground.  When the tide retreats even further you can walk out past the headland and see Caswell Bay to the East.

 

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“Cymricana” – Sunshine and Puddles

 

Sizzlers
Sizzlers

This painting of a burger van I spotted in Wickes’s (DIY Store) carpark in Swansea is part of my “urban minimal” series. I have been influenced by the treatment of light and colour by American realist painters such as Edward Hopper, Jim Holland, John Register, Frank Hobbs as well as by Contemporary minimalists such as Christopher Benson, Leah Giberson, Tom McKinley, Jessica Brilli and Emmett Kerrigan. I aim to bring an American sensibility to a Welsh urban landscape – I half-jokingly call this sensibility “Cymricana” – like Americana only Welsh. Instead of sunshine in a NY diner, its sunshine on burger van surrounded by puddles in a Wickes’ carpark.

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Rhyddings House, Brynmill

IMG_0617b (1)
Rhyddings House, Brynmill

This is a strange rather ugly building. It’s pebble-dashed exterior is tinged grey with neglect. The front garden is unkempt and there’s a red boat in the far corner of the garden. I noticed this building ages ago and was intrigued by it. Why didn’t it look like the houses around it? It reminded me of a block of flats and it seemed out of place amongst the tight terraces.

 

I have discovered recently that it is, in fact, an old mansion house, originally built in the mid 18th century. If you walk around the back of the building it looks less like an ugly tenement as through a stone archway there is smaller stone building attached called “the cottage”.

Rhyddings House
Rear of Rhydding House with the “Cottage”

 

 

Further research reveals that when it was built in the mid-18th century, it was one of few big houses to the west of Swansea. It had 8 generously sized bedrooms, an orchard, walled garden, and farmland. The surrounding areas would have been hay fields, dotted with patches of trees.  It was located far away from the smoking chimneys of the industrial areas along the River Tawe. It had views of the burrows (sand dunes) at the bottom of the hill to the south and, weather permitting, across the bay to the distant shores of Devon. From 1837 onwards, you would have been able to see the new Brynmill Reservoir to the north-west. This lake later became the heart of Brynmill Park.

The name of Rhyddings is a bit of a mystery. I asked my Welsh-speaking facebook friend, Rhydian, his opinion on why “Rhyddings” is pronounced locally with a hard “d” sound instead of with a soft “f” sound. He said,  “short answer is that I don’t know. The word ‘Rhydd’ is Welsh for ‘Free’ but I’m not sure whether there’s any connection there to be honest because the word Rhydding isn’t used today if it was ever a word, and -ing isn’t a common suffix in Welsh.With regards to the pronunciation, it probably is being mispronounced technically but since it’s not, as far as I’m aware, an actual word then I don’t feel it matters.”

The house had many tenants over the years. Thomas Bowdler , was its most notable resident. He was an English doctor of medicine, philanthropist, and man of letters. He lived here in 1818, whilst he was carefully deleting all the unsuitable parts from the plays of Shakespeare ‘which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family’ to make them suitable for women and children to read:- this was his “The Family Shakespeare”. He died in 1825 at the age of 70 and was buried in nearby Oystermouth.  He left money to the poor of Swansea and his home parish of Box, in Somerset. Although the bulk of his large library was donated to the University of Wales, Lampeter, the remainder of his library and print collection were put up for sale along with his furniture.

The house was subject to a series of misfortune, not least of which was being struck by lightning during an autumn thunderstorm of 1831 and being bombed during the Second World War. Relations with the local community weren’t always easy – different tenants prosecuted local children for minor “crimes” on a more than one occasion. Once for a 12-year-old was prosecuted for “scrumping” (pinching apples) and a 14-year old for picking flowers. In 1873 a public right of way through the near-by Rhyddings Fields were closed off and this provoked an anonymous letter from the fictional  “Twm Sion Catti” (a Welsh version of Robin Hood) demanding to know who had done this. A later tenant, the Dutch South African farmer Richard White Beor, became a Justice of the Peace and no doubt helped keep law and order in this rural area.

The last decade of the 19th century saw the start of the terraces being built. In the 1880s Swansea was growing rapidly. Middle-class suburbs were spreading west. St Helen’s Avenue and King Edward’s Road had been built and houses were starting to climb up Rhyddings Park Road and Finsbury Terrace. By the start of the First World War, the farmland and the orchard was a dim and distant memory.

 

Map of Brynmill
Brynmill, Swansea