On Sunday 18th September 2016, award-winning artist Elizabeth Stonhold and The Lab ran a drawing expedition in Haverfordwest, to encourage people to explore the Cleddau and ‘see Haverfordwest differently’.
It has certainly helped me to feel a closer appreciation for the town, and from conversation had throughout the day I was not alone in these feelings. For me, the best part was drawing within the meadows behind the hospital, a view I have drawn from the children’s ward whilst nursing both boys at different stages. To draw the view from within the meadows was a beautiful moment, a location I would never have thought I would find myself in! – Lizzie Stonhold
Draw on Nature was the first of three public events that took place in Haverfordwest, which together made up an Autumn series of walks on the subject of art and ecology. The event programme began with an introduction to sketching followed by a morning and afternoon walk starting from the Lab (formerly Ocky White’s Travel) that included a riverside picnic at lunchtime, and ended with a review of the day back in the Lab during which participants reviewed and discussed the work they had produced in their sketchbooks. You can view the sketches in the gallery below or download them as a PDF document here.
The Draw on Nature walks gave an insight into what lies ‘just around the corner’ along the river corridor in Haverfordwest, with routes taking in an astonishingly varied terrain ranging from mediaeval urban townscape to rural backwater. The walks highlighted the hidden places that are presently overlooked; under-used because they are at present disconnected from the more accessible areas of riverside along reaches in the town centre.
The sketches show the unique character of these, and the walking distances involved demonstrated how quickly these places can be reached, suggesting they offer huge potential for outdoor leisure and recreational pursuits on the river, all within a short distance of the town centre.
Twenty (not counting the youngest) participants of all ages took part, sketching with a group of friendly people in a relaxed but purposeful experiment. Beginning with a 5 minute warm-up sketch outside the Lab , then another in nearby Bridge street, this got the group actively drawing from the outset. Lizzie demonstrated the importance of ‘making marks’ to capture the immediate impression without too much editing and revision
By the end of the day there was an impressive body of work from sketchers of all ages and abilities that documented the fieldwork. This event created opportunities for a wide range of people to discover what Haverfordwest has to offer whilst trying out and learning new skills.
Widen people’s understanding of what art can be?
The approach was to combine walking and drawing as a means to engage with one’s surroundings through observation and responding directly to environments in a very personal way.
Elizabeth recently won the big Picture award, and has managed a community arts project, which won a Big Draw award in 2016. Coastlines created a virtual tour through Fishguard, Goodwick and Lower Town, encouraging people to explore the landscape through drawings.
Influence key decision makers?
Walking engages people at grass roots level in exploring the landscape. This may seem very removed from the ‘decision-makers’ working at strategic levels but it’s interesting to note that a renewed interest is emerging through bodies such as civic society and the town council in the potential for re-purposing areas along the river corridor, and improving access to them.
As well as being a fun outdoor activity, the walk demonstrated how hidden assets might be reconnected and made more visible in a cohesive network that uses ancient ways, and opens new paths to connect the town to the beautiful natural landscape and ecology of the river.
In doing so this could present an exciting opportunity to piece together a new plan for ‘town and country’ Haverfordwest’
Sketchbooks and materials were provided and the event proved popular across the generations with a good mix of ages ranging from children of 10+yrs to adults up to 70+yrs.