High up in north Ceredigion, overlooking the hills, printmaker Marian Haf creates beautiful, intricate and intriguing collographs inspired by her own childhood, her children, her Welsh heritage and the Ceredigion coast. She’s been working with us on a series of ‘Stranger Things’ limited edition prints for the distillery and she’s our first artist in residence at our new distillery premises.

Aside from brief forays into lino-printing at school thanks to an enthusiastic art teacher, and a print-making module on her art foundation in Carmarthen, Marian Haf is almost entirely self-taught. Although she trained as an artist, a degree at Cheltenham following a foundation year in Carmarthen, she had done little work as an artist since her degree. She and her partner moved to Cardiff after university. Marian had a studio space there, whilst working, but then they returned to the Ceredigion countryside where Marian grew up, just outside Pontrhydfendigaid (or ‘Bont’ as it’s known locally). After her first child was born, and in need of some stimulation and adult company, Marian joined a local printing group, Printers in the Sticks. This small group of artists experiments with all kinds of print making – and it’s here that Marian was introduced to collographs, by another artist, and really hasn’t looked back.

When her youngest son went to ysgol feithrin (nursery school) Marian gave herself 2 years to see if she could make printmaking pay – to be a realistic source of income. That 2 years is up this year (Spring 2019). Ensconced in her half of the shed that her partner Andy built for them to share, with her printing press, Marian proved it possible to turn something you love into a living.

Marian Haf Collographs

The collograph process is a painstaking one. Working on mount board, Marian carefully marks and peels away layers of the paper to create the effects she’s looking for. The process of scoring and peeling the board creates tones and shading – once finished, the board is inked up intaglio and then run through the press to create the finished piece. It’s painstaking, messy and hugely rewarding. Although Marian traces the outlines and where any dark shading and, most importantly, where any eyes should go, everything else is done freehand directly onto the board.

I used to draw everything out beforehand, but I love the process of working the board and not really knowing what’s going to happen. Sometimes the layers of board can peel away in unexpected ways, and I love that!

Once the printing process is complete, Marian adds touches of gold leaf to highlight and finish her pieces, a final flourish which leaves her with gold sparkles in her lap and a smile on her face every time.

The Welsh wind is often in evidence in Marian’s work. Her prints of fish which come from childhood fishing trips on the Ceredigion coast with her family. She’s fascinated by the heritage of Welsh quilt-making, and the Welsh language which she is a native-speaker, is a huge influence. These sources of inspiration may see light of day in a future project. For now, she is working on a commission illustrating Lewis Carroll’s poem ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ for a new art gallery in Brecon which was previously a shop known as ‘Ships and Sealing Wax’. Her work is available to buy from a number of outlets across Wales, and through her Etsy shop.

Artist in Residence In the Welsh Wind

Marian Haf is our first ‘artist in residence’ at our new distillery premises in Tan y Groes near Cardigan. We discovered her work through Instagram and we quickly realised that Marian would be the perfect person to create the face of a range of gins and spirits that represents how we feel about this beautiful coastline and its people, and that we will be producing here at In the Welsh Wind Distillery when we get time to catch our breath. West Wales is a place where anything can happen, where boundaries can be blurred, and which can take on a different character ‘out of season’, away from the eyes of visitors. We approached her with some very crude sketches which she magically brought to life in her unique style. To say we are pleased with how they have turned out is an understatement – unique and fantastic interpretations of life on the West Wales coast.

We are hugely excited to be exhibiting and selling select pieces of Marian’s work in the distillery until Christmas 2019. Drop by, take a look; choose the perfect print to buy for yourself.  Marian is also planning to host a series of demos and interactive print sessions here – dates will be firmed up soon. Sign up for our newsletter now to make sure you will be among the first to book in for an opportunity to visit us In the Welsh Wind and learn some new skills.