I drew en plein air in the cold sunshine at Arthur’s Stone on the Gower Peninsula. Although the popular English name for this neolithic monument links it to King Arthur (its Welsh name is Maen Ceti), it is far older than the Arthurian legend, which was written down in the 12th Century C.E. It is thought that the story of Arthur might refer to a warrior king or leader around the 6th Century C.E. when the Britons were fighting the invading Saxons. Either way, the monument is ancient, around 4,500 years and counting.
There’s a theory that the name Arthur comes from the ancient British word ‘arto’ meaning bear (‘arth’ in Welsh) and ‘ursa’, the Latin for bear. The battles between the Britons and Saxons happened in the century or two after the Roman withdrawal from Britain and a mixture of the British and Latin would have been very possible at that time.
I did a sparse drawing, trying to tap into the feelings the place inspired in me rather than slavishly copying what was in front of my eyes. I had prepared the paper with washes of my home-made walnut ink and I wanted to keep a lot of it intact – the surface of the ink is thick and satiny, it holds the shapes traced by the brushstrokes beautifully and I didn’t want to lose too much of that because it adds a lushness to the work.
Home-made walnut ink, carbon and white conte crayon onto Fabriano paper