Featured Artist

"The Herring Girls" are coming

An interest in old photographs of her grandmother, and other female relatives who were herring girl sellers in the Wick area of Scotland, by the Welsh artist Katie Scarlett Howard has manifested itself into an amazing exhibition which has highlighted the important role the fishing industry played in the economy and social history of the whole of the UK. Katie studied art at John Moore's University in Liverpool and completed an MA in ceramics at Cardiff (UWIC) in 2003.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, fish from Milford was always considered of the highest quality and "The Herring Girls" of the title, followed the shoals of herrings around the British Isles, ending up in Milford Haven where the girls, cut, gutted and skewered the herring before they were smoked and placed into barrels in Smokehouse Quay.  Many of these Scots girls ended up marrying local lads and settled down in Milford Haven.  Katie who comes from North Wales said  "I felt it was important to highlight and celebrate this for the next generation to understand and appreciate what these women went through. It was my intention after two years of research to produce a ceramic installation of approximately fifty figures and create a scene from a Welsh fishing port from early to mid-twentieth century. "

Katie continued, "The figures are between 30-38 inches tall and roughly 12-18 inches wide displayed singularly or in groups of two or three, I feel they look best communicating in some way or working together.  She explained, "They are made in a heavily grogged clay which gives `grit` and is an ideal medium for the stoneware glazes and oxides, the copper, black iron, cobalt and manganese dioxide that brings them to life.  "The style of the figures I make have a textured finish, created by rough cloth and fabric impressions in the clay and slip application with large expressive hands and simple dress to convey the arduous, intensive work the women undertook.
"Director David Randell said "When we heard what Katie was planning we felt it was an absolute `must have` June exhibition for the Fish Festival and Fish Week so we are delighted that we were able to secure it for this year. It should be fascinating for youngsters and older visitors alike. Like the Herring Girls themselves the exhibition has been visiting ports around the UK".  Also on show will be a selection of some 50 old photographs from the early 1900's  of Milford kindly loaned to the gallery from the Keith Johnson collection.
The exhibition opens on 17 June and continues until 23 July. The gallery is open from Monday to Saturday from 10.30am till 4.30pm and closes for lunch from 12.30pm till 1.30pm.


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