Anglesey’s Eirian pioneers life in print

A pioneering print maker from Anglesey is spearheading a major revival of the art form.

Artist Eirian Llwyd will be setting up printmaking workshops and opening the doors to her private studio at Llangefni during the 10th Anglesey Arts Weeks.

Eirian, wife of Ynys Mȏn AM and former deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones, is one of more than 50 artists taking part in the open studios and galleries weeks between March 23 and April 7.

“I want to take the mystique out of printmaking because some people are very nervous about the process and fail to see its creative possibilities,” said Eirian.

The Open Studios and Galleries event is in its 10th year and is organised by Anglesey Arts Forum.

This is the second year that the Forum has successfully worked in partnership with Helfa Gelf/Art Trail as the North Wales Open Studios Network, a scheme that reaches across the region from Anglesey via Gwynedd in the West to Wrexham in the East.

The Network is part funded through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007 – 2013, which is financed through the European Union and the Welsh Government.

Such is her passion for printmaking that Eirian set up The Original Print Place/ Y Lle Print Gwreiddiol, a not for profit company with fellow artists Jane Marchesi and Lauren Burgess, to promote printmaking as an important art form and began by selling original prints at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 2011.

They have curated a major exhibition of eight Welsh printmakers at the Welsh Government office in Brussels, which will then move to the Parliament building in Brussels.

“We have been able to build up a lot of contacts. Someone saw the Brussels exhibition and has asked us to take it to Amsterdam, to exhibit opposite the Anne Frank museum, which is a really great opportunity.”

Eirian, who was born in Denbigh, has taken part in all but one of the Anglesey Arts Weeks, but this will be the first time she invites the public into her new home studio.

Anglesey has been her home, and inspiration, since 1985. “Usually my work is to do with Anglesey and its landscape and its historical monuments. I trained as a nurse and health visitor, I did a BSc in Brunel University to do with community health. I did my nurse training in Liverpool and trained as a midwife at St Asaph.

“But I always enjoyed painting and drawing and I used to go to classes for many years. I started a part-time course at Coleg Menai and then when family circumstances changed I had the opportunity to go full time at Cardiff.”

Eirian graduated in fine art from University of Wales Institute Cardiff in 2001.

She agrees that the art scene on Anglesey is flourishing, but acknowledges it is a difficult time for artists to make money selling their work.

“There is something about Anglesey, like Pembrokeshire, which attracts artists, which may be about the light, the sea and the landscape and there are many good associations and clubs and prestigious galleries.

“But it is very, very hard at the moment trying to sell work. Having said that people are investing in art and more expensive works will sell by people who are interested in investing in art rather than just buying what they like.

“Much of the work exhibited in Brussels has sold. Talking to a gallery owner he says for the first time he has people coming in asking ‘which of these should I be investing in?’”

Eirian’s two day workshops, which include monoprint, intaglio and relief processes, will have to be limited for space reasons to three people each day. Her gallery will be open March 26, 27 and 28 and April 2,3 and 4, each day between 10am and 4pm.

Anglesey Arts Forum, which exists to promote the arts across Anglesey, organises the Arts Weeks. Last year the event attracted some 15,000 visitors, which Forum chairman Mike Gould says shows it is the most important event in the island’s artistic calendar.

He agrees with Eirian about the difficulty artists have in selling their work.

He said: “The arts scene in Anglesey looks healthy, but it is very difficult for people to earn a living. The Open Studios Weeks plays a vital role in promoting the fine work of our local artists and present them to a wider audience and get people to see and buy their work.”

Venues during the open studios and galleries weeks include studios, chapels, barns, sheds, galleries and artists’ homes.

Mike said:  “For the second time we are offering free guided tours of the studios. So if someone does not have transport, or does not want to drive around looking for studios, or prefer to visit with others then they can sign up for a tour.

“Each tour will be guided by David Wagstaff, an excellent qualified tour guide who will be able to give an insight into the history and landscape of the beautiful and ancient Isle of Anglesey. This will help give a feel for the environment in which our artists work and may draw inspiration from.

“We have divided our studios into Clusters to help artists work together in their locality, and also to make it possible to visit a number of studios in a day.”

Sabine Cockrill, the Project Coordinator of  Helfa Gelf/Art Trail North Wales Open Studios Network, said: “The project enables artists from across North Wales to show work in shared exhibitions, benefit from mutual professional development workshops and marketing events, giving them a chance to meet other artists.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for both Anglesey Arts Week and Helfa Gelf/Art Trail to work together and learn from each other, while retaining their own unique identities.”

For more information about  Anglesey Arts Weeks – Open Studios and Galleries 2012 and the artists involved go to where you can also download a copy of the official Guide. For more information about North Wales Open Studios Network please go to and Helfa Gelf/Art Trail please go to Eirian can be contacted on 01248 722261 for details of the workshops.

Related Posts with Thumbnails