How the retreat works….and what to expect
A few months ago, we had the idea to book ourselves onto a retreat, as a present to ourselves, but also as a way of inspiring new work, doing something different, and meeting like-minded people. But we couldn’t find a single retreat in the UK that offered what we wanted!
So we decided to make our own. Because of this, our Retreat is a different to many others.
Open to both aspiring and established writers, artists and craftspeople, as well as their partners, we have seen first-hand that trying different disciplines can excite the imagination and feed the soul, with a positive outcome for your own craft.
We’ve carefully chosen the workshops, classes and talks so that there is something for everyone, and we’re offering a range of activities that you might have always fancied doing as well as some you might never have even considered.
If you are coming to the Retreat to write, we understand that you might want to tuck yourself away and get on with your book or project. This is something that is hard to do when working from home because of all the usual distractions. That’s fine – we know exactly how it feels to get some decent head-space! The beauty of the Retreat at Gliffaes, though, means that if you do fancy taking a break from staring out of the window in exchange for dipping into something new, (and, let’s face it, a tad more constructive) then we’ve made it possible for you to do exactly that. In addition, we have lined up speakers from the world of publishing and writing who will give you inside info largely unavailable elsewhere.
Details of each workshop are found below. At the bottom of the page is the link to booking your workshops.
The Artisan Workshops:
This course will introduce you to the basics of drawing plants and beautiful wild flowers from life, and covers plant structure, using pencil, and drawing darks and lights. We’ll also use watercolour, talk about mixing colour, and try out hands at a watercolour sketchbook study of a flower. This workshop will suit any ability, from the absolute professional to the consummate artist.
Lizzie is a professional botanical illustrator, and will be on hand throughout the session to encourage, teach, and give you hints and tips on drawing techniques. She’ll also bring some of her sketchbooks and original illustrations for you to look at.
Lizzie has taught illustration workshops to adults and children for many years. She currently runs a fortnightly botanical illustration session in Hay on Wye, and is looking forward to running several illustration workshops at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens later in the year.
Sarah Adby – willow weaving baskets
During this workshop you will make a Catalan willow tray – so called because this construction originated in the Spanish region of Catalonia. All tools and willow will be provided.
Sarah has a wealth of experience as a willow weaver, and will bring her skills and her knowledge to share at this workshop.
Emma Bevan – needle felting
During this workshop, you will be introduced to the core wool method, and making an armature… by using barbed needles, you will then create a woolly sculpture of a hare, fox or badger. You will be using, and finding out about, Welsh and British fleece, in natural and hand-dyed colours, and learning how to needle-felt a three-dimensional animal. You will discover the history of needle and wet felting, and how they developed.
This workshop is suitable for all abilities. Emma will guide you through the techniques and you will be able to take home your completed wildlife animal at the end of the workshop.
Emma is a very experienced tutor and artist, and runs regular workshops across the country, ranging from private workshops in mid-Wales, to group sessions at River Cottage in Dorset. She will have a wide variety of resources and materials for you to work from, and make your day both educational and fun.
Terry Owens – leather working
Terry’s leather craft workshops are aimed at the beginner. No previous knowledge or experience required, just a “Have a go” attitude. Leather is an amazing material to work with, and does need patience and caution, but Terry says your perseverance will be rewarded. He will show you what you need to do and guide you as you have a go yourself. Whatever you choose to make, you’ll enjoy the experience.
Terry has a long history of teaching, and he says he really enjoys passing on his knowledge and experience, so that others may hopefully find the same enjoyment.
Julie Bell: “A sense of your surroundings “; guided sensory walk.
For those of you wishing to head off and explore your surroundings, you can now book a guided sensory walk with Julie Bell of Simply Strolling.
Julie describes her walk: “a guided walk looking at all aspects of the world around us.
Sight, sound, smell, perhaps even tastes will all be experienced and developed on this route.”
We enquired regarding fitness level required – it’s a 2/3 out of 5, so manageable for most folk with experience of scrambling about on hills and moors. The route will take you through some historical sites with stunning views.
You can then enjoy a warm bath and catch up with your friends and fellow guests upon your return, where you can all swap stories of the days’ experiences over supper
Karl Cheetham – Gliffaes own chef will be running a cookery class – more details nearer the time as he chooses from seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.
James Suter – Backyard Lumberjack workshop
James, one half of the wonderful team that own and run Gliffaes, will take a morning workshop to help you learn or develop an efficient wood-chopping technique! Have fun whilst drinking in the beautiful views. If you wish, you can purchase your own axe to take home too.
Helen Hickman – chunky knitting and peg-loom weaving
Peg Loom Weaving: Weave your own unique seat mat using Welsh wool. A simple traditional loom and fleece is used to create a soft, textural sitting mat that’s easily achieved in a couple of hours. You will learn how to warp up the loom and use various wool fibres. A gentle, rhythmic craft.
Knit a Super Chunky Cushion Cover: Knit yourself a super tactile, super soft, super chunky cushion cover. In this workshop you will use “Nellie and Eve’ yarn that has been hand spun at Helen’s studio on a hill in Wales, along with a pair of 25mm knitting needles, to create your very own chunky cushion cover in a couple of hours.
Helen is a wonderful tutor, and has a depth of knowledge about her materials. She will help you achieve these projects in a fun environment.
Rachel Cadman – lino printing on fabric
Rachel will be running a lino printing on fabric workshop. You have the choice to either stay for half a day and print a smaller piece like a purse, travel bag or water bottle carrier or a full day and take away a lovely bag or silk scarf! It will be a fun, relaxing workshop that is suitable both for total beginners or those with a little experience.
Rachel has been in the crafts industry both as a practitioner and tutor for almost 25 years and is very passionate about all types of printmaking.
Karin Mear – Painting for Pleasure
During this workshop you will be using flowers, fruit and vegetables as inspiration for drawing and painting. No experience is necessary as artist Karin Mear will be on hand to inspire and guide you. The workshop is also suitable for experienced artists who’d like to have an opportunity to engage with other artists and build on their own painting skills.
The morning session will begin with a slide show featuring examples of art based on flowers, fruit and vegetables followed by a short demonstration of brushwork and painting techniques. You will then spend time choosing pieces to paint, from a glorious and abundant selection of flowers, fruit and vegetables, and experimenting with different styles of drawing and painting techniques. All materials will be provided.
The afternoon session will be used to complete an original piece of art, on canvas or canvas board, based on the morning’s observations and creative discoveries.
Karin Mear is a professional artist who has taught painting classes for a local authority and also holds workshops for private and community groups. The basis of her workshops is that participants discover and embrace their own creativity and individuality with no pressures or expectations. As she says it’s ‘Painting for Pleasure’.
Lewis Goldwater – traditional spoon carving
Learn how to craft your own wooden spoon from a log, using simple tools and traditional techniques. You will be taught how to safely carve with an axe, straight knife and spoon hook, to make a spoon to your own design. Various decorating methods will be shown to finish the spoon.
Inspired by the natural forms and strengths of wood, Lewis aims to create hand-made, often bespoke coppice products using traditional green-woodworking techniques, such as cleaving, pole-lathing and steam-bending.
All of the green wood that he uses is sourced from sustainably managed woodlands and sites looked after for their biodiversity and peoples enjoyment of it. These include nature reserves managed by the Herefordshire Wildlife Trust.
Lewis has nearly 3 decades of experience, working in the environmental sector, across the UK and abroad.
The Writers Workshops:
Simon Hicks; Breathing Books
Simon Hicks has been Sales and Marketing Manager at Seren Publishing for more than two decades, during which time the publishing industry has been in a state of permanent revolution. Seren is a literary publisher based in Wales, with a stellar list encompassing poetry, fiction, biography, art, criticism and much more, giving him wide experience of working with writers across genres.
For an independent small company specializing in poetry and fiction, a 20-year track record is something of a miracle. The fact that Seren have continued to publish some of the best poets and storytellers in Wales and beyond is a story of passion, a love of good books and a willful obstinacy which in itself is an inspiration. Here is your chance to find out more, and ask Simon any questions you like about his journey in books, and how publishers work.
Chris Wold; How To Survive 20 Years In Books – and still love reading
Chris Wold is a publisher with 20 years of experience at companies ranging from multinationals to small specialists. Based both in the UK and US, he has directed teams working across the whole of the publishing process—from acquisitions to maximizing sales and international rights placements. He now runs a publishing strategy consultancy group, 99 & Associates, focused on business solutions for publishers and a very selective number of authors.
With a track record like this, there’s nothing that Chris doesn’t know about the nitty gritty and dusty corners of the publishing business and industry – and he’s something if a raconteur, too! However, Chris’ main drive is books and literature. An avid reader who manages to get through more books in one week than most of us might in a year, this is your chance to ask him anything you might want to know about the industry, the business, and books.
Adele Nozedar – How to Write a Killer Proposal
Adele Nozedar is an author and forager. She has had 12 books published (her first was picked up by a publisher before she’d finished the synopsis). Her second, ‘The Signs and Symbols Sourcebook’ has sold over 300,000 copies to day, in various editions, over the world. The Hedgerow Handbook, also a best seller, changed her life since after its publication, after increasing numbers of people started asking her to teach them about edible wild plants. Previously, Adele was in a band, then ran a record label, then built a recording studio in the Brecon Beacons. She believes that music, art, being outdoors and creativity are all the same thing.
Adele says: “When I wrote my first book, I was given the most incredible ‘insider’ advice about how to write a convincing synopsis. Publishers do not have the time to read every single manuscript that lands on the tottering heap or fills up their inbox. So you need to know how to present your idea in as convincing a way as possible. I teach you how to do this in a workshop which I cannot guarantee will be easy, but which I’ve found to be highly effective!”
Your evening speakers:
Phillipa Davies – How To Be A Word Hooker
Why do some words compel us so that we cannot put them down? What is in writing that transports us, enchants us and makes us buy an entire series?
Writer and psychologist Philippa Davies investigates the art and science of writing to engage readers, whether fiction, non-fiction or poetry and asks ‘Can anyone be a word hooker?’
Based on her Times serialized bestseller ‘Irresistibility’ and the 7000+ students in her online writing courses, Philippa constantly researches the effectiveness of words. She’s had 11 non-fiction books published, a novel made into a tv film for S4C and creates video poetry for fun.
Sarah Maliphant – ‘There’s more to life than increasing its speed…’
A creative dream that became real? How did that happen?!! The true story of what can actually happen if you give yourself and your dream time to grow.
Sarah is founder of More to Mountain Retreats. She has a love for mountains, good farmhouse food, for Calm and Caring.
She says: “My Corporate roles provided a rich and satisfying blend of Operational Research, Programme Management, leading market strategy, facilitation and coaching. A good stroll around the Annapurna Mountains in 2000 provided some time to reflect. As my vocation became clearer, I gradually focused my career, joining Beacons to focus on Leadership development, team communication, and reducing stress in the workplace; and starting More to Mountain Retreat in 2009.
My early mud tea service morphed into a calm pleasure in caring for others, no matter what role I was in. Caring for my Mother with Alzheimer’s served to deepen that.
Now I have the privilege of living and working in the most beautiful valley in the Brecon Beacons, and drawing on every aspect of who I am and what I love.”