Art of Place

Dominic ClareI am in Wales, staying in a town full of writers and environmentalists. Specifically, I am staying with Jay Griffiths, looking after her cats while she is talking about Time at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and then talking about Frida Kahlo in Stornoway. The world turns in mysterious ways. Years ago I used to download music from the Smithsonian Institute’s vast library of sounds. Guadeloupe accordions, Dirty Jazz from Down South, Cubanismo from the Congo. Record labels have caught on and started making compilations from the archives, but you can still go there and get lost at your leisure with nobody trying to make you buy anything. I read Jay’s book Wild when I was on Lewis in 2012 and have been recommending it to everyone I meet ever since. Then I met Jay, earlier this year, and somehow that turned into a winter of empty Welsh houses to write my next book in, and make some home recordings of some new songs to tide me over until the next record. So here I am in Wales in this town full of writers and environmentalists. One of them is George Marshall, who has just published a book called Don’t Even Think About It, which attempts to examine the psychology of climate change denial and why nothing is changing, even though we all know (don’t we?) that it’s only a matter of time before the Titanic sinks and we all go down with it. So sane people are grieving for the trees and the skylarks and the vanishing places they love, and everyone else is watching TV….. or surfing. Last weekend there was swell. I drove to a funny little town called Borth, and surfed some funny little waves, and then I drove up the windswept coast and before I knew it I was in Snowdonia, parked up in a little valley near where I was born. I rambled around in the wet mountains for a couple of days and on my last day I went to visit a sculptor called Dominic Clare. Clare once trained with David Nash, who is responsible for my all-time favourite artwork. If you ever get the chance to see the film, seize it. I took some photos in Dominic Clare’s garden and wrote some stuff about his wood-carvings, which you can find here. It’s the first of a new column I am doing for Toast Travels called Art of Place.

5 thoughts on “Art of Place

  1. Rose

    Hi Catrina

    I got your book , The Ribbons are for Fearlessness, as a Christmas present from my Brother. I have just returned to the UK after hitchhiking a sailboat across the Atlantic and sailing a long way after… I think he scoured the travel section of the book store looking for something inspiring but without arrogance.
    Your book is wonderful. Whilst my brother found comfort in the fact that you hated travelling at first (he tried and didn’t get along with it), I found inspiration that you overcame those feelings and came back ready to set off again.

    I read Jay Griffiths book, Wild, when I was 16. I was revising for my A-Levels, stuck at the small desk in my room, trying to memorise political theories and rock formations. I was so depressed but I wasn’t sure why. Wild gave me the answer, and since then I have known that I want something different to what is expected of me by ‘society’. When I was 17 I went to Morocco, 18 I went to Spain, and 19 I crossed the Atlantic on a sailboat, whose Crew I had met just weeks before. I have carried Wild with me on every journey, and read it many times, and recommended it to many people. I have never found exploring the world easy or fun, yet. It has been hard and grueling, and equally completely extraordinary and wonderfully beautiful. For all of this, I carry on.

    I am passing your book on to a friend, who wishes so much to explore but feels that she does not have the courage.

    Thank you for your writing, both to you and to Jay.


  2. Hedgespoken Tom

    Lovely. It’s a beautiful part of the world and you’ve good company there. We shared your Dark Mountain piece on the Hedgespoken page, where it was applauded mightily 🙂 Interested to see that you were part of the Droving Project too, with my old mate Katch. Small, beautiful worlds.

    1. catrina Post author

      Hello, thanks for the comment and lovely to feel the world joining up. Katch is ace so you lot probably are too. Merry Christmas

  3. Emlyn

    You’re making me homesick! I lived in Aberystwyth for a long time… That little patch between northern Ceredigion, western Powys, and Meirionydd is quite special. I know Borth well, and used to surf there myself sometimes…

    I’ve just discovered your site after reading the piece on the Dark Mountain site; I’ll look forward to reading it regularly!

    1. catrina Post author

      It is special. I am back there now among the hills – crap surf though, howling westerlies. I am yet to actually visit Aberystwyth, but I will. Thanks for your comment and Merry Christmas.


Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.