Living in a land of impossible greens

Beaconsfield artist Tim Baynes always found West Wales a place of inspiration – and now he lives there. Today he shares some initial impressions about his new life in Carmarthenshire

WE HAVE moved to Laugharne, a town on the south coast of Carmarthenshire lying on the estuary of the River Tâf. Population 1,222.

It is like standing on the edge of a new life, when somebody is saying to you: “Hey, would you like a new life?” And you say: “Yes please, that would be nice, thank you.”

I think I really know the difference between living in a place and loving a place. There is so much ahead of us, probably most of it will be strange. Yet there is so much to see, enjoy and stub one’s toe on. Every nook and cranny seem to have a story.

I am making a drawing or two most days in Laugharne. I make notes each day about what we do all day here.

Our town squats at the end of an estuary. Here the Afon Taf flows into Carmarthen Bay and eventually the Bristol Channel. On the other side of this estuary are deserted churches, small farm fields and narrow roads draped in flowers. Cow parsley, red campion, buttercups, bluebells and hawthorn compete for room to flourish. Hedges are high. In the shade, hart’s-tongue ferns glow in a green haze.

These roads are like some helter-skelter rising up to the sun and plunging down to shady bridges and crumbling cottages. Up, up again, to a field of views across a hundred fields. A line of pylons march across this land.

There is so much green, from darkest viridian to almost lemon. Gates are held together by rust and blue bailer twine. Red rust and turquoise blue the complement to green on the colour wheel.

As we make our way to Llansteffan (St Stephen – often these saints were from ruling families who invaded Wales in the Middle Ages), the land seems to pant in the high sun. We meet villages along the way. Llan-this, Llan-that. There are 630 “llans” in Wales: it means Christian settlement, often a church, conjoined with a local saint.

Llan y bri, through which we pass, has two chapels: Capel Newydd, new chapel, is home now to most of Dylan Thomas’ maternal relatives. Hen Gapel was the only medieval church in Wales to be converted to a non-conformist chapel. Now it is without a roof and God has an uninterrupted view on the congregation.

In November 2020, a series of Tim’s paintings featured in our Picture of the Week feature.

Part 1 focused on the flatlands of the Kent coast and marshes, Part 2 threw the spotlight on West Wales – “a landscape, coastline and places that really inspire” – and Part 3 homed in on church architecture across the Chilterns.

Tim Baynes’ website features a variety of galleries of his work, downloadable minibooks and work for sale. His blog, which includes more detail about his adventures in Laugharne, can be found here.

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