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Something about Jackie Morris

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Jackie Morris’ ‘Something about a Bear’: Published by Francis Lincoln in October 2014

Jackie Morris’ ‘Something about a Bear’: Published by Francis Lincoln in October 2014

JACKIE MORRIS is a world-renowned children’s author and artist, who lives just outside of St. David’s. Jackie exhibits her painting nationwide and has worked with authors such as Ted Hughes and Robin Hobb. In October 2014, Jackie had her latest book, ‘Something about a Bear’, published, and she is currently working to a tight deadline on ‘The Wild Swans’. We at The Herald recently spoke with Jackie about living and working as an artist in Pembrokeshire.

Jackie told us that most of her inspiration comes from her walks; living just outside St. David’s, Jackie is always surrounded with picturesque landscapes and scenery. Jackie told us that ‘The Ice Bear’, which was published in July 2014, is set on top of the world. Although the book is heavily concentrated with Inuit culture, Jackie dreamt up the setting for ‘The Ice Bear’ while on top of a cliff in Pembrokeshire, watching the ravens fly around her. God’s house, in one of the books she illustrated for Ted Hughes, is modelled on her neighbour’s house, she said.

Jackie moved to Pembrokeshire twenty-three years ago from Bath, so I asked her if she thought her artistry had changed since moving to our coastal county. She explained that she had definitely seen a change happen. While living in Bath, her paintings were often tall houses and archways modelled on Bath’s architecture. Since living in Pembrokeshire, most of her art is based on a peninsular landscape and a lot of space has crept into her work. Her new house immediately inspired her work in the form of a pair of hobnail boots that the estate agent had told her not to move. There are superstitions that leaving the shoe of a child who has moved away, or even died, in the attic will draw their souls back. ‘There are so many stories tangled in that,’ Jackie said. Inspired by the boots, she wrote a story about a mother who had put the boot of her son, who had gone to war, in the attic. Many had believed the story to be true. The boot is still in the attic, and Jackie will not even take it out of the house to take a picture of it outside.

Jackie takes a lot of inspiration from inside her house, and her attic studio is filled with stuffed animals. ‘It’s actually getting kind of creepy,’ Jackie commented. She fills her workroom with things to inspire her when writing and illustrating her next book. While out shopping a few weeks ago, Jackie noticed a beautiful wedding dress, which she immediately bought for her studio. She is currently taken inspiration from the garment for her next book.

When I asked Jackie if she had a favourite painting or book, she laughed and stated: “I hate them all.” Jackie struggles as nothing ever comes out the way she wants it to. She is completely obsessed with writing and illustrating the book and it takes a lot of time, but she struggles with confidence when she has finished it. She starts with a lot of enthusiasm, but by the end she is worried that the book is not as good as the last. Jackie was often in tears over her work, but she is starting to get over that now. She gained a lot of confidence talking to other artists she admired who also suffered with the same problems. Jackie is very busy churning out book after book and she talked about the fact that she only gets a minute to appreciate the finished piece before moving on to the next. Jackie has a real compulsion to paint, though, and loves becoming immersed in the world of a book, so she is very grateful that she gets to read books, write books and paint for a living. Jackie had always wanted to be an artist since the age of six, but a lot of people said that she could not paint for a career. She is aware that she is very lucky to have proved those comments to be wrong.

Recently, Jackie has found a new passion in stone sculpting. ‘The first cut released a wonderful smell of sulphur’, she commented, talking about how wonderful her experience working with stone was. Used to very twiddly, fine painting, Jackie wanted to find something a little more physical. “My paintings, on paper, will be gone in three or four hundred years,” stated Jackie, “but stone lasts forever.” Jackie loves the stories that rocks tell, their smell, and their beauty. It is also very good for working out frustration, apparently.

Jackie currently has an exhibition on in the Druidstone Hotel, which is mostly artwork from ‘Song of the Golden Hare’, and she also has work in Narberth’s Golden Sheaf and Porthgain’s Shed. She has just had a show in the National Botanical Gardens of Wales and has work in galleries all over the UK.

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Community

Demolition of St Thomas Green vandal-blighted building approved

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A SOCIAL housing provider scheme to demolish a deteriorated vandal-blighted house in Haverfordwest has been approved by county planners.

Earlier this year, social housing provider Ateb Group Limited gave county planners prior notification of its plans to demolish The Grove, St Thomas Green.

In its application, it stated: “The building has been unoccupied for several years and its physical condition has deteriorated significantly over that time. It has become prone to vandalism and trespass and is becoming difficult to manage and secure.

“It’s demolition will allow the structure and resultant debris to be removed, improving the visual amenities of the locality. It will also enable the site to become readily available for a sensitive redevelopment in association with the adjacent Meyler House.”

It added: “The cleared site will become part of the adjoining Meyler House site, with proposals being prepared to redevelop and construct affordable elderly persons apartments and associated parking facilities.”

Agent Evans Banks Planning Limited, in a supporting statement said The Grove, adjoining Ateb’s head offices at Meyler House, received permission back in 2009 for the “Demolition of existing dwelling and replacement with apartments, houses and landscaped grounds.”

Conservation Area Consent was also granted at that time.

“Those permissions were not implemented and have long since lapsed, but nevertheless indicate that the principle of demolishing The Grove was deemed acceptable at that time to the local planning authority,” said Evans Banks Planning Limited.

“A pre-application enquiry has recently been presented before the local planning authority which seeks to reignite such redevelopment proposals but on a much larger site, incorporating Meyler House and its grounds into a comprehensive redevelopment scheme to create elderly persons apartments.”

It added: “This current submission seeks to renew that 2009 Conservation Area Consent given that the existing former dwelling house has now reached a physical state where its deterioration is causing concern.”

However, county planners determined that prior approval was needed before any demolition works take place, with details of tree protection while the works take place needed, along with a suitable method statement to minimise noise, dust and a strategy for dealing with hazardous materials should they arise during the demolition.

County planners have now granted Conservation Area approval for the plans.

A similar application by Ateb, for demolition works at the town’s former learning centre, near to the former county library, recently made subject to broadly similar conditions, has since been granted permission.

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Community

The Big Beer Festival returns to Milford Waterfront

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MILFORD HAVEN is set to host the highly anticipated Big Beer Festival tomorrow at Milford Waterfront. Beginning at 12:00 PM on May 25, the event promises a vibrant celebration featuring an impressive array of real ales, lagers, and ciders, along with a prosecco and Pimm’s bar for those with different tastes.

Local bands will provide live music throughout the day, ensuring a lively atmosphere. Headline act 4th Street will be among the performers, with additional acts including After the Fire, Steve Bartram, Two Suns, Tin Man Revolution, and DJ Robzy. Food lovers can enjoy diverse culinary offerings from The Junkyard Dog and Marcela Mexican Cuisine at the Thornton Motors Streetfood Zone. Entry is £20, which includes four drink tokens and a limited edition glass. Each token can be exchanged for a half pint, a glass of prosecco, or a glass of Pimm’s. The festival will run until 11:00 PM.

This event is part of the continued partnership between Milford Waterfront and the Milford Haven Round Table. This collaboration supports a calendar of events throughout the year, raising funds for local causes and creating enjoyable experiences for the community and visitors. Upcoming events include the Milford Haven Carnival on July 6 and the Fireworks Extravaganza on November 5.

As well as local petrol station company The Ascona Group, Howden, a global insurance intermediary group, is a key supporter of the festival. As a deluxe sponsor, Howden is donating £500 towards the event. Gary Stevens, Regional Managing Director, expressed his delight in supporting the Milford Haven Round Table, emphasizing the event’s significance as a fantastic day out for the bank holiday weekend and a means to support the local community.

Milford Haven Round Table, the UK’s largest Round Table with 30 active members, organizes this festival to give back to the local community. All funds raised support local charities, groups, and individuals, including popular free entry events like the town’s annual carnival and fireworks display.

For more details, visit the official event page.

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Public transport issues could affect thousands of older people in Wales

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THOUSANDS of older people across Wales may find it difficult to get out and about and do the things they want to do this bank holiday weekend due to difficulties accessing public transport, according to the findings of a new poll undertaken by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales.1

A third of older people who responded to the Commissioner’s poll said they find it difficult to access public transport in their area, while the Commissioner’s findings also highlight that 1 in 5 people aged 70+, and nearly 1 in 4 older people living with health issues or disabilities, are now using their bus pass less compared to two years ago.

Reasons shared by older people as to why they were using public transport less frequently included fewer buses, unreliable or delayed services, changes to routes or the location of bus stops and difficulties finding information about routes or timetables.

Older people using their bus pass less frequently told the Commissioner they had less freedom and independence, and found it more difficult to access appointments and services. They also said they had become more reliant on others, or had no option but to use a car or taxi rather than greener public transport options.

The Commissioner is concerned that any further cuts to bus services would make it even more difficult for older people to use public transport, leaving people unable to get out and about and do the things that matter to them, and at greater risk of loneliness and isolation.

She says that where changes to services are unavoidable, it is crucial that older people’s voices and experiences are used to guide decisions and shape future plans, and that community transport services should be supported to fill gaps in provision.

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said: “Transport plays a crucial role in supporting us to be independent and do the things that matter to us regardless of our age, whether it’s enjoying ourselves on a bank holiday or doing other things such as attending health appointments, caring for loved ones, volunteering, meeting up with family or friends, or going shopping on the high street.

“And as we get older, we may come to rely on public transport more often to do these things.”

“My poll findings suggest that a third of older people in Wales – nearly 300,000 people – find it difficult to access public transport in their communities, and that use of the concessionary bus pass has fallen over the past two years, particularly amongst people over the age of 70, and those living with long-term health conditions or disabilities.

“Without access to public transport, a growing number of older people will find themselves with less independence, less active and engaged with their communities, and at greater risk of loneliness and isolation.

“Many of the issues highlighted by older people that make it more difficult to use public transport – such as the distance of bus stops from key facilities such as GP surgeries – could be tackled through ensuring that older people are involved in planning and decision-making, so their voices can shape bus services in a meaningful way, particularly where changes to services cannot be avoided.

“It’s also crucial that in areas where public transport provision is lacking, community transport services are supported, via longer-term, more sustainable funding, to fill gaps and help ensure older people can get where they need to go.”

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