Honouring loss through paint and music

26 October 1859 by Anthony Garratt

26 October 1859 by Anthony Garratt

The urge to communicate is key to any artistic endeavour, but for the work to truly connect with others, it helps for artists to look beyond themselves and be moved by the world around them. In 2016, artist Antony Garratt achieved this with his painting installation High and Low.

His 2019 project returns him and his team to Anglesey’s wild spaces, this time looking out to sea.

In October 1859, The Royal Charter, a steamship en route to Liverpool from Melbourne was wrecked in the Irish Sea off Anglesey in a ferocious storm. It’s estimated that 800 lives were lost in the storm, which was coined ‘The Royal Charter Storm.’

“The Royal Charter is legendary on Anglesey, not least due to the heroic efforts of locals from Moelfre who attempted to rescue crew and passengers,” he says. “In a dreadful twist of fate, the ship was carrying a cargo of gold and many of the people on board had sewn gold into their clothes. Upon entering the sea, they were immediately committed to the seabed.”

The tragedy of the Royal Charter Storm led to the development of the meteorological office, with the first gale warning service being launched in 1860 to prevent similar catastrophes.

Anthony and his team, enabled by the Outbuildings, Anglesey, and shipwrights Mark and Loz Cann, are creating a painting and theatrical installation titled To All At Sea, or, in Welsh, ‘i barb ar y mar to mark the160th anniversary of the storm.

26 October 2019 by Anthony Garratt

26 October 2019 by Anthony Garratt

Collaborating with the wind

The work will comprise a 4.5-metre-wide double-sided painting panel with a black steel foresail shaped to echo the rig of the royal charter. It will be located in a coastal position near to the location of the wreck off Moelfre, East Anglesey, on 13th May.

“I have just completed the two sides of the painting – one of which communicates a calm, foreboding day at sea; the other the gale which tragically wrecked the Royal Charter amongst many others that fateful night,” says Anthony. “I created the two paintings in my studio over two months; the time it was meant to take the Royal Charter to reach Liverpool from Melbourne.”

Like a weather vane, the painting panel will pivot on a central mast with each change in wind direction. As a result, chance will dictate whether you see the depiction of the calm day, or The Royal Charter Storm, “just as the weather was a form of roulette on that fateful night, before the days of weather forecasting.”

Now we come to the really clever bit

With each pivot and change of direction in the wind, the painting panel communicates data to a website, which each day at 17.55, (the time of the UK Shipping Forecast), draws an arc representing the change in wind direction.

After two months of these ‘wind arcs’ being collected, the lines will be translated into a musical score to be performed and recorded by concert violinist Philippa Mo, accompanying a local Welsh male voice choir.

The performance and culmination of the installation will take place on 26th October, the 160-year anniversary of The Royal Charter Storm.

The installation and composition will be dedicated to those who lost their lives in the storm and rescue efforts.

An art competition will run concurrently with the installation and dedicated social media channels for the entrants to share their work. The subject will be the weather forecast and The Royal Charter Storm. Prizes will include a day creating a painting with Anthony Garratt to keep.

Find out more about all of this at www.toallatsea.co.uk.

Art in and of a view

Anthony Garrratt High and Low, on Llyn Llydaw, Snowdon © Richard Broomhall, Fractured Ether

High and Low by Anthony Garratt, on Llyn Llydaw, Snowdon

You may recall me posting a piece on extraordinary landscape artist Anthony Garratt  when he created four spectacular al fresco paintings on Anglesey in 2015.

Anthony’s latest venture, High and Low, or ‘uchel ac isel’, captures the wild beauty of Snowdonia, with epic paintings and a film bringing together natural and manmade art.

Sponsored by self-catering holiday company Menai Holiday Cottages, the film and outdoor painting installation offers plenty of jaw-dropping views of the area.

Anthony Garratt High and Low, at Llechwedd slate mine, Snowdonia © Richard Broomhall, Fractured Ether

Anthony Garratt’s High and Low at Llechwedd slate mine, Snowdonia

“Menai Holidays hopes that the installation will tell the history, geography and industrial heritage of North Wales, and encourage visitors to make a deeper connection with the region’s dramatic landscapes and the incredible forces that have shaped them,” says Judith ‘Bun’ Matthews, the owner of Menai Holiday Cottages.

A preview of the film, which accompanies the High and Low installation, has been released online, with a full-length version of the film due to tour arts festivals and galleries across the UK from the autumn of 2016.

Like landscape artists Richard Wilson and JMW Turner before him, Anthony has drawn inspiration from the majesty of Snowdonia, in his case to fuel two immense paintings using water-based paint as well as naturally occurring local materials like slate dust and copper.

Anthony Garrratt_High and Low, at Llechwedd slate mine, Snowdonia © Richard Broomhall, Fractured Ether

Anthony Garratt’s High and Low, at Llechwedd slate mine, Snowdonia

The two paintings were created directly within the views they represent, and are now in position – one floating with soaring light and reflections of Snowdon on Llyn Llydaw, and the other suspended deep beneath the mountains amid the shadows of an abandoned slate cavern at Llechwedd Slate Mine.

What powerful motivation to visit Snowdonia and engage with it anew.

Anthony Garratt_High and Low, on Llyn Llydaw at Snowdon © Richard Broomhall, Fractured Ether

Anthony Garratt’s High and Low, on Llyn Llydaw at Snowdon

If you would like to see ‘High’ should park at Pen-y-Pass car park and follow the Miner’s Track path which ascends Snowdon. The easy, track-based walk to Llyn Llydaw takes around 40 minutes.

To see ‘Low’, head to Llechwedd Slate Caverns at Blaenau Ffestiniog. Entrance is via the mine visitor tour desk.

The High and Low installation will remain in situ until the end of October 2016.

Find out more at www.menaiholidays.co.uk/highandlow. All images credit Richard Broomhall / Fractured Ether.

Wild art on the island of Anglesey

Anthony Garratt painting at Brynsiencyn cr Richard Broomhall

Anthony Garratt painting at Brynsiencyn cr Richard Broomhall

I love encountering outdoor art, particularly when those artworks join forces with their setting to enhance an area’s existing beauty. Done well, it has the power to engage people with nature and art in a way that’s really exciting.

With this goal, landscape artist Anthony Garratt has created four spectacular al fresco paintings on Anglesey, painting them at the locations where they’re now displayed, on the north, south, east and west of the isle. Each artwork takes in a different iconic view: Caernarfon, Snowdonia, the Great Orme, the Lleyn Peninsula and the Irish Sea.

Anthony Garratt painting at Lligwy cr Richard Broomhall

The four 2.5-metre acrylic and oil canvasses have been hoisted onto bespoke steel structures to be enjoyed in the spaces they were inspired by and where they were painted. I think they’re amazing – really dramatic. I love the way they reflect and interact with the scenery.

Anthony Garratt painting at Lligwy cr Richard Broomhall1

“This is a hugely exciting project,” says Anthony. “The fact that the paintings are at the mercy of the ever-changing light and weather adds a whole extra dimension both to the painting process as well as to the experience of the viewer. Sitting under the watchful eye of Snowdonia, Anglesey is an amazing landscape to contemplate.”

The project has been commission by Anglesey resident, Bun Matthews, owner of Menai Holiday Cottages. The outdoor art exhibition of ‘Four on Anglesey’ will remain in situ until October 2015. Do go along if you can, and if you do, let me know what you think.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley (at) iCloud.com. I’m also happy to receive reviews of books, exhibitions, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a review, please send an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com.