Interview with Pete Bodenham

SOON met with Poppit based potter Pete Bodenham to talk a bit about his current work, where he gains his inspiration and life today as a working artist…

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Introduce yourself and your work.
I’m a potter, visual artist, and part time ceramics lecturer. I live next to my workshop at St.Dogmaels Pottery. I grew up in St Dogmaels and went to school in Cardigan. My family lived on a smallholding and I attended art college, both environments encourage you to repair stuff, think, invent and create things. I’m happiest when I’m around my two sons and Ellie, at the beach with Poppit Sands Surf Life Saving Club members or making and being engaged in creative projects.

How did you become a ceramicist? 
As a child I used to repeatedly thumb through a book, ‘The Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency’ by John Seymour. I loved the detailed illustrations and the underlying philosophy of the book. Within the book there were two pages on making pottery that sparked my interest along with tips on keeping hens, pigs and cows. I was lucky to experience ceramics at Cardigan School and as a teenager I used to hang out at Cippyn Pottery near Poppit Sands, which made me think you could be a potter. From there I went to Carmarthen School of Art and then onto Camberwell School of Art in London to study a BA in Ceramics & 3D.

Have you always lived in Wales?
No, but I’m a passionate Welsh Rugby and sports fan! My Parents moved to St.Dogmaels in the late 1970’s. I’ve lived most of my life in West Wales with short spells in London and Cardiff.

Would you say your surroundings play a big part in your work? 
Yes, in a big way. I try to capture a sense of place within my ceramics and creative projects. Journeys and mini adventures on foot, often walking the shoreline, feed the work on a direct level. Intuitive brush marks reference the feeling of moving through water, or studying the edges or boundaries between land and sea. Motifs and gestural marks brushed on the pots can be seen as direct traces of my experience of a sense of place.

Who are your main inspirations/ favourite artists?
Alive – Francis Alys, Theaster Gates, Marcus Coates, Allora & Calzadilla, Bedwyr Williams, Wim Delvoye, Cornelia Parker, Takeshi Yasuda, Atelier N.L. Nao Matsunaga, David Gates.
Dead – Joseph Beuys, Antoni Tapies, Gillian Lowndes, Cy Twombly and many forgotten potters / un-marked pots in Museums.

What are you currently working on?
Part of my work as a lecturer at Bath Spa University is being a researcher. This involves either writing academic papers or creating innovative research art and design projects. I’m currently researching material culture and its symbolism regarding site and place. I’m interested in how you can make ceramics that can evoke or reference a sense of place, imbedding objects with meaning. On a practical level I am researching the history, geology and ecology of Poppit Sands beach. A local historian Glen believes the name Poppit is derived from Pot-Pit, this idea coupled with what I can learn form the beach has been my starting point of this year’s research. I’m collecting small amounts of clay, rocks, wood and seaweed from the beach using these materials to create clay and glaze experiments. On a regular basis I collect plastic from the beach both cleaning the shoreline and keeping some plastic containers to form part of the project. I’m making plaster casts from these plastic items, make pots by pressing the clay gathered from the beach into the moulds. The project will ultimately draw together research, information and images from visitors to the beach, geologists, historians, scientists as well as the creation of a small set of functional ceramics made from materials gathered from the beach.

Where do you source your materials? How do you make decisions such as choice of clay and glaze?
The raw materials come from Stoke-On-Trent, which is the centre of the British ceramic industry. I supplement these materials with local clays and materials. I use dark clays, which I feel evoke the local geology.

Describe your work in 3 words.
Utopic, practical, rooted.

What’s your favourite piece to date?
A coffee bowl featuring seaweed collected from the beach integrated into the glaze chemistry.

It’s rare for people to fully commit to a career in the Arts. What’s the hardest thing about being a full-time artist today? 
To be honest, on one level it’s probably the easiest time in history to be an artist. The challenges are financial rather than cultural. Financially sustaining yourself and your art / design practice is an art form. The current political economic climate is challenging or put it another way messed up. It’s hard for artists and makers to find affordable spaces to live and work.

What would be your advice to a young artist starting out in the industry? 
Learn skills from highly skilled people and aim to practice your skills to the highest level. People with good skills will always get work. Study the history and theory of your field as well as being inquisitive about other fields of study. An inspiring art lecturer Osi Rhys Osmond I used to work with, repeatedly said ‘ art and design is all about making connections!’. Network and figure out who you need to talk to and where you need to show your work. Finally, commit to your creative practice.

What’s your SOON, your Something Out Of Nothing? 
Diving into a wave.

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Behind ‘A Lilac Mind’ with Bibiane Bisala

In late February, SOON met with Bibiane Bisala- the incredibly talented young woman behind the poetry book ‘A Lilac Mind’, to find out more about her main influencers, her journey as a poet thus far and what her hopes are for the future.

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Introduce yourself.
My name is Bibiane Bisala. That’s pronounced bee-bee-anne but most people call me Bibi. I’m eighteen years old and I’m a Virgo who loves to write poetry, take walks and live inside my head. My Instagram is @bibixne and my Tumblr is alilacmind.tumblr.com. If you want pretentious playlists for 91 different moods, my Spotify is @iambibiane.

Tell us a little bit about A Lilac Mind… Where did it all begin?
‘A Lilac Mind’ is my first born. It’s an anthology that mainly covers love/heartbreak, infatuation, youth, freedom, the idea of the self and many other realms. I don’t even know how it really begun; all I can say now is that it is a product of inevitability. I’ve always been writing poetry ever since I was young, but the actual sharing of it begun when someone simply asked to read my poetry. Everyone knew I kept seven notebooks locked away but no one had ever really asked to read my stuff; perhaps they knew I would say no because I was and still am to an extent, really private about my writing and innermost thoughts. This person though, at the time, I couldn’t say no to and I guess that’s how the idea of sharing my art form stopped seeming so bad. In terms of the concept, it became really evident to me that everyone around me was trying to fit into a mould, to live their life as one thing and this idea that if you were one thing you couldn’t be the other was also so prominent. That is something I’ve struggled with a lot. I mention in my letter to my readers at the beginning of the book, that ‘A Lilac Mind’ is about embracing the polarities within yourself and accepting who you are unapologetically. The fundamental message: It’s okay to think/feel/be one thing and/or another.

What’s next for Bibiane Bisala? 
Right now I’m focusing on ‘A Lilac Mind’ touching a wider audience but as far as working on something new goes, I am working on new things and I am excited about future projects. I don’t want to give too much away but all I can say about the new project I’m currently working on, whenever it will come out, is that it’s more societal than personal (though still a reflection of me) and will hopefully take my poetry to a very visual level. I also want all my work to be cohesive, so it will have the same underlying vibe as A Lilac Mind but it’ll still hopefully be distinctive on its own.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
I’m really flexible when it comes to the environment I cultivate my creativity in. I can literally work anywhere so long as I can get into my mind and concentrate on connecting and interacting with my thoughts and ideas. I’m a chronicle daydreamer so it’s easy to mentally leave a place whilst being physically there. But if I had to choose an ideal working environment, it would probably be in forests, alone with nothing but the trees watching or when I’m home alone, blasting whatever music I’m into at the moment, in front of my computer with notebooks and magazines out; tumblr on my screen. I also work a lot amidst the chaos public transport on my notes page.

Where do you source most of your inspiration from? Are there any artists, poets or even musicians that heavily influence your work?
This is a really cliché answer but I draw inspiration from everything everywhere. Other writers, magazines and music are my main sources. Lana Del Rey’s lyrics and music videos really pushed me towards the vibe I resonated most with; the dark, romantic, slightly disturbing essence surrounding love. If there’s one thing I can say about Lana’s work is that whether it’s just a song or a song paired with a visual, it is so cinematic and it’s literally this beautiful aesthetic experience for whatever senses it’s targeted at. When I was writing ‘A Lilac Mind’ I really wanted to write in such a way that if a director or someone who creates short films wanted to use my words, it would be easy for them because of how vivid my writing is (or how vivid I hope it is). Anything I’ve ever listened to and felt connected to is seen in ‘A Lilac Mind’, it’s a heavily influenced anthology from musicians such as the funeral suits, the 1975, Carla Bruni, SZA, and other obscure indie bands; it’s a product of eclecticism. Other writers such as Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Lang Leav and Pablo Neruda really shaped my character and perhaps the ‘persona’ that surrounds ‘A Lilac Mind’. As far as magazines go, I am a lover of authenticity, fashion and aesthetic and so simply flicking through a cool magazine such as i-D, DAZED AND CONFUSED or the Messy Heads and staring at a picture is enough for me to come up with an entire concept. Everything in ‘A Lilac Mind’ is real whether it is a direct experience presented just the way it was lived, embellished or understated; it’s the truth subjective to one’s mind. Whether you can even call that the truth is questionable… I guess the point of this tangent is that all my sources of inspiration allow me to ‘clothe’ reality the way I want when writing poetry.

To have published a poetry book already is incredibly impressive, what advice would you give to anyone else hoping to self-publish?
Perseverance is the key. It’s the key for any project in life being executed. There will be days when the idea of going through with your project is less sparkly than when you first engaged with it, but you just have stick it out. Whenever you get into that “meh” head space just think about why you embarked on his journey in the first place. Visualise the feeling you’ll get when it’s done; it’s the most rewarding feeling. As far as technical advice goes I would say just watch a lot of YouTube surrounding self publishing, do your research about it, find an indie self publishing company that is legit and gives you a lot of space to keep your original ideas intact. Also if you know anyone who has self published before just ask them for advice.

And Finally, what’s your ‘Something Out Of Nothing’? 
My something out of nothing has to be… There are so many little pleasures in my life that I literally live for. My favourite has to be my journey back home from school when the sun is setting. When I’m travelling alone, I put my headphones in, sit at the front seat of the upper deck of the bus and put my feet up. My bus goes up this hill everyday on the way home and when it reaches the top you get this breathtaking view. The sky is painted with all these bleeding colours and clouds and you can see all these trees and buildings in the horizon, with their lights. It’s literally the most beautiful thing ever. I normally reach a really good bit in my song when the bus stops there for a minute or so and I hold my breath every single time because it’s just this perfect harmony between nature (the sun/sky/clouds/trees) and industrialisation (the buildings and all their lights). I don’t know; it gets me every time. Then the bus goes downhill and the moment ends.


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To keep up to date with Bibiane and her poetry, head over and follow her on Instagram / Tumblr . To purchase ‘A Lilac Mind’ find it on Amazon here.

 

Interview with Helen Booth

Artist Helen Booth studied painting at Wimbledon School of Art in London in the late 80’s and since has gone on to win the Pollock Krasner Award for Painting and exhibited all over the world, including in cities such as New York, London, Hamburg and Edinburgh. SOON met with the artist to talk about how moving to rural West Wales effected the way she works and about the inspiration behind her paintings…

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Introduce yourself and your work…
I’m a painter who lives in rural west Wales. I have a wonderful studio in an old woollen mill about 30 mins from Cardigan Bay. My work is always in oil. I buy more Titanium White than any other colour and I never clean my brushes (tut tut)

What made you move from London to rural West Wales?
We saw an advert in Artist’s Newsletter – It simply stated “Beautiful old woollen mill in South West Wales, Change Your Life!” And so we did!

Has moving effected your work/ the way you work?
Yes, so much. I moved from Peckham in London in 1996 and the transition from Urban to Rural effected my work. I love the flat light in Wales, the silvery sombre tones really suits my painting and the way it flattens the landscape. I find the grey damp days in the Winter so inspiring.. I’m not that good in the heat.

Do you find yourself getting more inspiration from people or places?
That’s a hard question. My work centres on the emotional connections that I have to people but it uses the landscape for inspiration in terms of palette. My recent work is all about Love and Loss and my relationships, but in the painterly tones that you can find walking or in the colours of the pebbles and stones on the beaches.

Where do you work best? 
In my studio – alone – listening to audiobooks on my iPhone. I can’t work with other people around at all, I love the solitude. I miss my studio so much if I get bogged down in my office.

If you could only paint using one colour for the rest of your life what colour would you choose?
I know they are actually not colours but definitely black or possibly white. Actually, that would depend on what I’m painting on. However, if I get a pencil too then white.

It’s rare for people to fully commit to a career in the Arts. What’s the hardest thing about being a full-time artist today? What would be your advice to a young artist starting out in the industry?
Art is not a lucrative profession in terms of financial gains, but it is the most incredible way to spend your life. It has been incredibly challenging, especially now with Brexit; where lots of small galleries are closing because people are nervous and not buying original works of art. Making money out of something that you love to do is hard, but I wouldn’t change my life and I couldn’t if I am to remain true to myself. I’ve just always had to make things; my hands are never idle. Art is one of the most important parts of life, it feeds everything that is good. If you have a creative impulse, then you must trust it. My two pieces of advice to young artists would be to nurture your connections and to understand that rejection is not personal. I have had so many rejections in my career, but now I know it’s about taste and how your work sits alongside other work. Oh, and also make things happen for yourself. If you can’t get a gallery, then turn your house into a gallery space and invite people to come see.

What’s your favourite painting of all time? 
One of the best exhibitions I have ever seen was the Cy Twombly retrospective at Tate Modern. I also saw a smaller exhibition of his in Edinburgh. Analysis of the Rose as Sentimental Despair Part I (1985) is probably one of my favourite paintings ever to have been created. I also love the paler works by Peter Doig, Blotter 1993 is just so beautiful. I would find it hard to choose between these two paintings if I were to be offered one as a present!

Which painting are you most proud of?
It’s difficult to say which of my works I am happiest with, but I suppose it would have to be “A Conversation With Myself”. Its one of my most recent paintings, very small and stripped back down to a very simple structure. It makes me feel peaceful and it will be one of the works that I would be very reluctant to part with.

What’s your Something Out Of Nothing? One of life’s simple pleasures you just can’t get enough of…
Spending time with my daughters, who are both now away at University.

To see more of Helen’s work you can head over to her WEBSITE, or follow her on INSTAGRAM

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The Pizzatipi: Meeting Jackson Lynch

Sitting on the edge of the River Teifi in the small Welsh town of Cardigan, a band of brothers, along with a group of their pals, fire out homemade, fresh pizzas and hearty beers for the many, under a canvas tipi. Whether you’re catching up with a friend, celebrating a birthday or launching a magazine The Pizzatipi is the perfect spot for chilling out, watching the sunset and eating delicious food, all in an utterly creative and welcoming space. (To read the full interview, head over to the shop page and find it in all it’s glory in the pages of ISSUE TWO)

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What is The Pizzatipi and how did all begin? The Pizzatipi is a little restaurant and pub in the middle of Cardigan on the Teifi. Our parents started it accidentally about 5 years ago when they made a pizza oven for a staff party. Now it’s run by my brothers, I and our band of merry friends. We’re open from Easter to Christmas and are on a mission to make the best Pizza we can.

It’s such a beautiful location, do you know what was here before? Sail lofts, chandlery, a boat yard, a coal yard, a smugglers pub, an antiques shop, galleries, flats, offices and now a pizza temple!

One thing that is wonderful about The Pizzatipi is the support it gives to local companies/ start ups. You hire mainly young people and often host events with young guest caterers, like El Salsa, and hosted the SOON launch event… is your support of mainly young people intentional or subconscious? Is the young atmosphere a part of The Pizzatipi brand? We don’t really think about it, doing all the different things brings all the different people to us and that’s great for business but its secondary. We want to see things happen and if we can help and get a burrito out of it… no brainer. We’re nothing without the staff and most of the senior staff have been with us since they were the youngest staff, I hope the younger staff stick with us too, they’re mainly at an age where we know they’ll go soon but as long as their younger sisters, brothers and friends come and work for us instead we’ll be OK!

Jackson, you studied in Glasgow and have travelled quite a lot, what brought you back to Wales? Family, Friends and Pizza!


On your instagrams (@coldatnight @fforest @pizzatipi), we’re always seeing you foraging away, do you source a lot of your ingredients locally? We’re super lucky be surrounded by such fresh ingredients. From the sea, local growers, bakers, farmers we try and get as much of it on the menu as we can.

The Pizzatipi is now run, I do believe, by you and your brothers- what advice would you give to someone going into business with family? Definitely do it – It’s the best and the worst, just try not to be family in work and work in family.

We see you’ve recently expanded, it looks glorious! The Pizzatipi is obviously just growing and growing in success, what are your plans for the future? A table on the river (smug emoji)

Finally, describe your brothers in pizza form, if they were pizzas what pizzas would they be and why?Robbie is any pizza without cheese #backthebid #anti. Calder is a potato, perl las and chorizo pizza because he’s delicious and Teifi is steak on a pizza, perfectly rare.


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An Interview with Author Damian Dibben

Damian worked as an actor and screenwriter before he began writing novels. His series, THE HISTORY KEEPERS, about a boy who finds his parents are lost in history and joins a secret service to track them down, is published by Penguin Random House and has been translated into twenty-seven languages. His new novel, TOMORROW, also with Penguin, tells the story of a two-hundred year old dog and his search for his master through the courts and battlefields of old Europe. It will be released in Spring 2018.

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When did you start writing? Has it always been what you wanted to do as a career? I didn’t set out to be a writer at all, but fell into it through a series of chances. From an early age, my great love was film. More than books back then. I watched many every week, and if they had an impact – and all varieties appealed and still do, comedies, dramas, suspense, horror, new films or black and white – I’d watch them again and again, until I understood why they worked so well, how the building blocks had been stacked up. This is how I first learnt about writing, how to develop characters and tell a story to create that sense of impact. Having worked as a screenwriter for a decade, both in the UK and Hollywood, I was eventually drawn to writing books. A book is in a way like a completed film, in which you have not only been the ‘writer’, but also the various actors, cameraman, editor and set designer.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to become an author?Getting going on a story can sometimes feel unnatural. Beginning the process of matching an idea in your head with actual words on a page can be like walking into the sea: it’s cold to begin with, you’re apprehensive, you don’t know how deep it is or what lies beneath, but you soon get used to it, and before long you don’t want to get out. More than anything, I think it’s important to set yourself a daily goal, so many words or hours, and stick to it. It may seem sometimes like you’re writing nonsense, but as long as you are dong it, the results will follow.

As a writer you are constantly faced with making Something Out Of Nothing when coming up with storylines, creating characters and so on… Is there a routine or environment you find you work best in? Do you have dos and don’ts for when you have a day of writing? It takes an hour or so for me to get going in the morning, along with a couple of breakfasts, a dog walk and a pint of coffee. I Iike to keep regular working hours Monday to Friday, but of course the story is always ticking away in the background. That can be fun, it’s like having a parallel universe at your disposal. If I’m on a winning streak, I’ll work through lunch and late into the evening. Though if I do, my Jack Russel Dudley protests, sometimes dramatically. Other days, it can be like pulling teeth and I have to remind myself that a journey is taken one step, one word, at a time.

History seems to feature a lot in your writing.. if you could live in any other era- what era would choose?  I’d go to Ancient Rome first, for the spectacle of it. An empire has rarely been so far-reaching, ambitious, magnificent and gruesome all at the same time. I’d be fascinated to travel through Europe in the 17th century – avoiding the wars if I could – in the age of enlightenment, to witness the many moments of discovery in science, astronomy, art, architecture and medicine. In the same century, for luxury and sheer, absurd pomp and circumstance, Louis XIV’s Versailles would be hard to beat.

As ambassador/patron for Kids In Museums, what are your top picks for London’s museums? The Victoria and Albert has always been a favourite. There is such a quantity of treasures there, each one with its own story to tell. Walking around you get a sense of the sweep of human history and the wonders that have been created over the centuries by inventors, craftsmen, designers and explorers. In particular, the Renaissance Galleries are awe-inspiring.

When you’re struggling for ideas, where are your ‘go-to’ places in London to feel inspired again? Apart from the above, I’ll go to the theatre perhaps. Many London theatres sell day-seats for ten or fifteen pounds. I’ll go and queue early in the morning for a show that night. The seats are always in the front row, which is my favourite place, as you feel part of the action. London’s parks are numerous and outstanding. Within them, all walks of life come together and interact in a fascinating manner – and they have been that way for hundreds of years, which strikes me as incredibly civilised. Kensington Gardens is a particular favourite, partly because I grew up close by. I find food also gets the ideas flowing, so I’ll go to Borough Market perhaps, see what looks good- shellfish usually – and cook up a feast. 

What would you say are the three most inspiring books you’ve ever read?Wuthering Heights is the book I always come back to. It’s ingeniously constructed, whilst having a story of pure dynamite. Reading it is a visceral experience. The characters, whilst not always sympathetic, are entirely absorbing, the story has a perfect arc and the atmosphere is intensely vivid throughout. Bill Bryson’s A Short History Of Nearly Everything is riveting. With a lightness of touch he tells the story of the world and of humanity. We learn everything from how the universe was formed, to the way dinosaurs were first discovered, to what goes on in the centre of the atom. It’s mind bowing – and it’s all true! More recently, I loved The Goldfinch. A boy loses his mother when a bomb goes off in a museum. In a state of confusion he makes away with an important Dutch masterpiece, which he keeps hidden for a decade whilst he grows up. We’re desperate to know if he’ll ever reveal his secret – or indeed face his demons. It’s an epic and modern classic.

Finally, which existing fictional character would you say you’re most similar to? It would be nice to think I’m a little bit like Tintin, someone who enjoys being drawn into an adventure, has lots of eccentric friends and who travels the world with his faithful dog – in his case, Snowy – solving mysteries together. What’s not to like?


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To stay in the know with Damian, for book updates and more, you can follow him on Facebook @damiandibbenauthor

NOMNOM: Lili and The Chocolate Factory

In the heart of Llanboidy, down a gloriously green winding road, hidden away amongst the trees, lies NOMNOM’s magical new home. From starting up in a small caravan, a team of two, it’s safe to say that NOMNOM’s story is a very inspiring and successful one, as you now see these marvellous chocolate bars popping up in more and more farm shops and food stores all over the country. During the Easter holidays, a very crazy time indeed for chocolate factories, SOON met with the very lovely Lili Woolacott, NOMNOM’s Keeper of Deliciousness, to learn a bit more about where NOMNOM all began and to see what they’ve got in store for the future..

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Where did it all begin with NOMNOM? What made Liam want to start a chocolate business, and when? Tell us a bit about how it all got going… It actually all began in a little caravan in the back of Liam’s mum garden which is just outside of Llanboidy, this was in 2013. From there we grew from caravan to caravan park kitchen in Llansteffan which was beyond minuscule, all elbow to elbow wrapping and foiling what seemed to be enough chocolate to last a lifetime (at the time)! The idea of starting a chocolate company was stemmed from passion of flavours and textures that Liam has had from a very young age. Chocolate has an enchanting form of transformation as it goes from a liquid to a solid and then back again as you wish. The stuff seems to be running through that boys veins, growing up on Bourneville Lane right outside the Cadbury factory and starting his first chocolate shop under the stairs in his Grandparents house when he was just the age of 7. There was no getting away from it even if he had tried!

Compared to when he started up on his own, you now have quite a few people working here. What characteristics do you look for in workers here? The working environment is so very important to us. We want happy chocolate makers that make bars that are a labour of love and every bite tells its tale. We look for people that are enthusiastic in what they do, no matter what the task, you need a certain get up and go to be a part of a start-up. Real people who all bring something different to the chocolate table. Times can obviously get very tough, the same as in any small business but when you’re surrounded by people who care it makes it all the difference. We get to listen to jazzy tunes and have long afternoons filled with hot chocolate tastings. Could be worse ey?

Is where the chocolate ingredients are sourced an important factor to you? Massively important. Our favourite thing to do is collaborate with all the incredible producers across Wales & UK. Sourcing our fillings and ingredients from local suppliers which are already out there causing a taste sensation, then we add some chocolate, what more could you need! Last May the whole team took a trip to Madagascar which has got to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Seeing every step of the little cocoa beans journey to become the chocolate we know and love was so important as makers. We even planted our own trees that we will be fruiting in 4 years to come! We will have our very own NOMNOM beans. Hurrah!

What’s the weirdest flavour you’ve tried to make in the factory that didn’t work out? It has to be ‘Old Books’ that we created for a Perfumer called Azzi Glasser who asked us to design chocolate bars around her latest range of scents. We took Cuban cigars, leather essence, burnt hazelnuts and a whole range of other insane ingredients that were created to take you back to a nostalgic time of sitting in an old library where pungent aromas had been embedded into the pages on the shelves for years. The trialling however was ever more interesting. I can safely say that I will not be consuming cigar or leather essence again in a hurry.

What was the first flavour that hit the shelves? “Llaethdy Llaeth” which we were led to believe was Dairy Milk in Welsh but have since realised it actually means “milk house” which I kind of like even more. Liam’s mum Emma used to hand stamped every single letter onto the craft parcel paper she got from down the post office whilst also hand cutting all the boxes. Every detail had heart and soul as it still does just Emma doesn’t have to hand stamp the wrappers any more. She’s quite happy about this.

A lot of companies tend to leave Wales once they reach your level of success, the fact that you have stayed here is pretty unique… what is it about Wales that keeps you here? Funny you asked because it’s actually a message that we’re trying to get out there, that you don’t need to leave Wales just to be successful. You don’t need to move to a city for prospects and opportunity. We want to create a space for young, old and everyone in-between to come and grow their dreams. We see so many young people fleeing the hills of Wales just to find a decent job. We want to stay here tucked away waiting the curious to come and find us, live in the beauty of Wales and still have adventures that take you far across the world.

NOMNOM seems to just keep growing and growing! What are your hopes for the brand in the future? Well we have just hi-jacked this incredible site that used to be Pemberton’s Chocolate Farm for over 25 years which sadly had to shut down about 4 years ago. The site was just sitting here waiting for life to be pumped back into its walls which is now happening and it’s such an exciting project we’re really getting stuck in to. We will be creating a Maker’s Village where people with a whole range of talents can come, discuss ideas, share resources and have their studio spaces here on site. Our first official Maker is Lee who is currently drawing everything in his Grandad’s shed, when I say everything. I mean everything.

If you want to see some cool videos, head to our website: www.nomnom.cymru for a sneaky peak at what’s to come. You can also (if you fancy us) sign up to our Curious Club where we will be letting you in to all the secret happenings here.

Finally Lili, if you were a chocolate bar what flavour would you be? It’s got to be our ‘Love’ bar. Our silky smooth super salted caramel made with Daioni’s Organic cream and Calon Wen’s butter with a lashing of Halen Mon oak smoked sea salt. It’s all gooey in the middle. A bit like me.

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If you enjoyed this article, you’re in for a treat because there’s more! Just be sure to grab a copy of ISSUE TWO this summer to read the full story…


Young and Creative: Jasmine Jones

For Part II of the ‘Young and Creative’ series, SOON met Jasmine Jones, a painter from New Quay currently studying an Arts Foundation at Carmarthen School of Art. 

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Introduce yourself and your work.
I’m Jasmine Jones from West Wales. I’d say my artwork is still in development; I’m definitely still a student rather than an artist but I’m on my way.
I like to think of my work as my filter. Most people can filter what they say, only saying what’s worthwhile rather than babbling on relentlessly but I, however, babble relentlessly often losing what I actually mean to a flood of words. Creating artwork for me turns this flood into a gentle stream, through which I can see more clearly. I know it sounds airy-fairy but that’s the best way I can explain why I do it.

How long have you been making art?
I have a vivid memory of my grandma, who used to be a medical illustrator, sitting with me in the living room explaining that the body is not made of sticks but has many lumps and bumps. I can’t have been older than four but it’s definitely where the interest sparked.

Describe your work in three words.
Big, paint, colour.

Describe the way you work in three words.
Off the cuff.

What’s your favourite colour?
Can I just say the primaries? Red, blue and yellow are the only ingredients you need for a painting… white helps it on its way.

How long do you spend on each piece of work?
At the moment, the time is way low; maximum 6 hours. Throughout my school years I’d take around 20 hours so this fast pace is changing the way I work- for the better, I hope.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
It’s funny because the environment depends on the work. If I’m creating something expressive I prefer to be alone, freed from any judgement of others, but then again, I love doing portraiture from life because I can sit with the person, ask them questions and see how their expression changes throughout the process. I find it meditative being entirely immersed in someone else.

Who inspired what you do?
People in general are my biggest inspiration. Anyone and everyone. Sometimes artist, sometimes not. A funny little woman I saw in London once inspired an entire project and she’ll never know it!

What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve ever made?
A couple of years ago I painted a portrait of my father, it was never finished and it’s on a flimsy piece of A2 paper, but I think that was a point for me when I thought, ‘this is what I love doing, I’m going to carry on doing this for as long as I can.’

Where would you like to be in 10 years time with your work?
I just hope I find it equally as exciting and frustrating as I do right now.

What’s your ‘Something Out Of Nothing’? One of life’s simple pleasures that you absolutely love…
All the little pops and crackles the sea makes underwater on a calm day.

Jasmine Jones plans to start studying Fine Art at University of Arts London: Camberwell, in September. If you fancy keeping up to date with her wonderful work, you can follow her  art account on Instagram here.



Young and Creative: Hattie Morrison

This will be the first of many for ‘The Young and Creative Series’- a series focusing on, and celebrating, up-and-coming working artists under the age of 23. Since the late nineties, publicity and general media coverage of the British art scene has revolved around a small group of artists (often referred to as the Young British Artists or Y.B.A’s). Though this praise is often well deserved, SOON wants to provide a platform for some new young artists. Hattie Morrison is the first to be featured, and will be followed by many others to come.

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Introduce yourself and your work.

I am a soon-to-be twenty year old artist and writer from South Wales currently studying Fine Art at The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. I am a film-maker, writer, painter and installation artist, mainly interested in ephemerality and attempting to capture the best, fleeting moments that seem to fly by- Henri Cartier-Bresson called this the “decisive moment”. I use my work as a tool to try and lengthen these moments out because I’m scared of their inevitable death, really. I think the fact that memories fade is one of the saddest things about life. I’m the sort of person that plays the same song over and over until it sounds completely different and I find parts of it that I never noticed before. I try to do this with my art too- make and make and make art until I find out something new about myself or life.

How long have you been making art?
I sound like a classic pretentious artist but because my entire close family is full of artists, I feel like there was never really an artistic debut for me- I just popped out and have kind of been making things since. I do remember though, when I realised that I wanted to be an artist properly. I was going through a lazy time at school, and my grades were falling and I was focusing more on being one of the class clowns than I was on succeeding. That year my Dad took me to see Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room at the Tate Modern. As soon as I walked into that room I knew I needed to leave my tiny village in Wales and try to make art that affects people in the way that that art installation made me feel- it was a kind of like I had walked into space (all the lights look like tiny stars that stretch out forever and ever) and realised that the world was so big and full of possibilities.

Describe your work in three words.
That is difficult.

Describe the way you work in three words.
Sporadic, intense, late.

What’s your favourite colour?
I love green and pink, but only really when they are together.

How long do you spend on each piece of work?
It completely depends on when I feel satisfied – I have pieces of work that have been brewing in my mind for nearly a decade now, and others that take me a couple of hours. Sometimes coming up with and perfecting an idea is the part that takes the longest time, and materialising it takes nearly no-time at all. I had an idea for a film that I was sitting on for about three months and it took a day to film, edit and export.

What’s your favourite environment to work in?
I used to love painting with people I care a lot about sitting next to me. When I now look at the paintings I did last year I see them as an absorption of the sort of atmosphere and emotions I was surrounded by at the time. With that in mind I always try to reflect my current environment in my work, and so if I’m making work about the effect that solitude has on me, I try to work alone. In general though, the physical environment is usually a complete mess, with bowls of cereal, empty mugs, dried up paint scattered around- and music constantly playing.

Who inspires you?
Every single person that I have ever loved and every single person I have ever lost. Music is a massive source of inspiration for me- I always listen to a wide range of different types of music when I’m working, and so Bob Dylan, Erkin Koray, The Corries, Joni Mitchell and The Electric Light Orchestra kind of act like inspiration taps for me- if I put a song on by any of those musicians, ideas start coming at me from all directions. My parents inspire me as well. They are both artists and remind me every day through their own careers in the arts to never give up and to always push on because that’s when people often make the best art. My dad says that we are in the “emotion business”.

What’s your favourite piece of work you’ve ever made?
I recently wrote a poetry book and self published it which I feel very proud of for many reasons- I feel as though it’s my most raw work to date and the fact that I am scared to show it to people makes it my favourite- it feels like I have put some white card and a soft back cover over myself at my most vulnerable and I’m offering it out to the world to read and scrutinise. I think the book is the most emotional piece I’ve ever created and for a while I had 100 copies of it sitting in my room- I couldn’t even look at them, they made me feel too strongly.

Where would you like to be in 10 years time with your work?
I’d like to still be with my work in 10 years time- I hope I am still a working artist! If that’s the case, and I am happy with the work I am making in general, I’ll be content (hopefully).

What’s your ‘Something Out Of Nothing’? One of life’s simple pleasures that you absolutely love…
My whole artistic practice is based on the tiny fleeting moments that pass us by so I find this really difficult to decide on just one. I’ll list the ones that I can think of right now-
-The sound that frost on grass makes under shoes late at night or early in the morning.
-The way that the cobbles in Oxford feel like a rocky beach under your feet if you’re walking in the dark.
-When you are walking away from someone and look back because you miss their face already and they look back at exactly the same moment.
-Pulling masking tape away from a painting to reveal a satisfying straight line.

Hattie’s “I Will Write and Write and Write Until Everything Is Right Again” is in the process of publication and will be available to buy at the launch of Issue Two in June, as well as in select galleries across the United Kingdom.

Hattie’s Instagram 

Ring Carving with Maggie Cross

In December I returned to Bara Menyn and met up with the wonderful Maggie Cross just before she started one of her glorious Make it in Wales ‘Carve A Ring’ classes. I managed to steal her away to ask her a couple of questions about her journey, process and work, before shadowing her whilst the workshop took place.



So Maggie, when did you start making Jewellery?  Well, Pete Bodenham/ Pete Bod the God, the pottery tutor, used to give me a lift into Carmarthen Foundation from St. Dogs every day and he persuaded me to take the 3D pathway. I think it was mainly because there were tons of girls doing fashion and textiles, so I thought that’s what I wanted to do. But he said “Come on Maggie you’re cooler than that .. there’s no girls on 3D, come and do 3D”, so I did and it all started there really.

After foundation did you then go on to train as a jeweller?  Yes, I spent three years doing a BA Honours in Birmingham which was really nice! It wasn’t like the normal uni experience, because it was like a little jewellery land in a town where everything was jewellery related. It was a red brick building without any boys, apart from maybe a couple. I lived away from all other kinds of students and it was very much a little jewellery life in its own little land.

Can you remember the first piece of jewellery you ever made?  The very first pieces that I made, that were jewellery… I think they were out of clay on foundation, but they were absolutely vile so I don’t know whether they count because they’re long gone. The first piece that I remember making and liking though was probably during second year in university when I did my coastal ‘Welshy’ collection.

Does a lot of your inspiration come from nature?  …Yeah, more like from my surroundings probably. My first project at uni was based around the Pembrokeshire coast and barnacles, and then my second project there was about the more urban landscape in Birmingham.

What three words would you use to best describe your work? Ooooh, that’s a tricky one… I’d say maybe minimal… quite rough? and… imperfect.

Minimal, rough and imperfect.

What made you start doing these workshops? I started to work for a local company called Make it in Wales last year, after I had my baby. I started working with them, when Suzi, my friend’s mum, clocked on that she needed a little assistant, so, one day, she took me on a little trip with Harriet and Emily and I was like ‘this is weird… ooh she’s buying me lunch,’ and she started to interview me a little bit, which was a bit unexpected, and the next thing I knew I started working for her. Make it in Wales run craft workshops and courses all across West Wales, and she wasn’t going to let me get away with not doing a jewellery workshop so… that’s how I’ve ended up here really.

Is the process you are doing today quite quick?  Yes, it is actually. It’s really lush, I love the process so much! We learnt so many different techniques at university in the first year and then we were able to choose whichever method to carry forward and work in. A lot of people were interested in the traditional methods, so I’ve been trained in that way as well, but I just completely loved this method. So basically what happens is, you carve the piece of wax, do whatever you want to it, then, a silicone mould is made when I send them off to the casters. I work with a really lovely casting company in Birmingham, which is run by nice old men, and they make these silicone moulds which the wax is then sucked out of and the molten silver is poured in.

Where do you prefer to work? On your own or with others?  I’m quite shy so probably on my own, but I don’t tend to do anything when I’m on my own. I think sometimes I need to be forced into a workshop situation with other people where I can be reminded, ‘oh yes! I love jewellery!’ If it’s just me and my sisters, or me and my friends, making jewellery for a bit of fun, I love working like that because I just find that if I sit down on my own I feel like I have to get my business head on and it’s just too serious so I’ll never get round to it.

If you could only wear one item of jewellery for the rest of your life what would it be?  Earrings, I always wear my hoops. I can go down to spar without mascara on, but I feel I have to put hoops in, whereas I don’t wear rings at all, ever. I love making them, they just bother me when I wear them. But I like to have earrings, maybe it’s because I have short hair, I don’t know, but I just have to wear them.

What piece do you think you’re most proud of making?  I was really proud of the barnacle collection in second year, and like I said I haven’t had much time since graduating and having a baby. I am really proud of the workshops though, but I don’t know if I can be proud of all the rings we make here. When I get them back from the casters, I photograph them and I’m like ‘oh my god, these are so gorgeous!’ and everyone comments on my Instagram like ‘oh they’re so lush’, but then I remember I haven’t actually made them? So…

… But you are teaching them the process though, so it’s sort of like a collaboration, Yeah.. a collaboration. I am really liking these workshop results. Oh! I’ve also made, only the one piece and I gave it to my friend as a birthday present, and it’s really annoying you can’t see it because she left it in London, but it’s the only stone I’ve ever set and I don’t know why I haven’t done any more, but I’m definitely going to, because I’m really proud of that piece.


Find upcoming workshops with Maggie on the Make It In Wales website..