Bethan Ash: Art that inspires -

Bethan Ash: Art that inspires

Bethan Ash: Art that inspires

Bethan Ash is a textile artist living and working in Neath, South Wales. She has been making art quilts for a very long time and believes that quilts are tactile evidence that we were here and have left something of value, as a mirror of ourselves and our accomplishments.

Her work is strongly influenced by social and popular culture and she is inspired by urban and natural forms. Mixing a combination of social issues and abstract ideas with colour and texture, Bethan fuses fabrics to make collage which is liberating for its freedom and colour expression.

Art that inspires is a series for, in which established textile practitioners discuss artists and pieces that have been influential on their own creative journey. In this edition, Bethan selects five artists that inspire her work.

Neale Howells

Neale Howells, The Drugs Do Work, acrylic painting, 243 x 487cm

Neale Howells, The Drugs Do Work, acrylic painting, 243 x 487cm

Bethan Ash: For many years I‘ve admired the work of fellow Welshman, Neale Howells. Like myself, Neale is from Neath in  South Wales.

I first came in contact, with Neale after winning a Craft prize at the 2008 National Eisteddfod. He contacted me with an invitation to his studio in Port Talbot and suggested the possibility of us doing some sort of collaboration piece. Unfortunately, at the time my husband was in the early stages of terminal dementia and so I was not in a position to take up his offer, but hopefully, and if the offer still stands, we can work on some sort of collaboration in the future.

Neale creates imaginative and provocative pieces that challenge the viewer to come back to time and time again to see new things. I love his work for its thinking, strength and size – his work is BIG, in every sense of the word.

He is a superb marksman and a powerful paint manipulator. He uses hardboard, or other found material for a ground and covers the surface with sprayings and graffiti-like scrawling and scumbling- usually in household paint, tackling the whole process with confidence and skill.

Neale has worked with various creative people in Wales both in music and film and in 2016 his paintings were transformed into clothing for his collaboration with international designer Jayne Pierson for her shows at London fashion week

For more information visit:

Mary Fogg

Mary Fogg, City, 132 x 120cm, art quilt

Mary Fogg, City, 132 x 120cm, art quilt

In 1985 Mary co-founded the group, Quilt Art, alongside co-founders, such as; Inge Hueber, Pauline Burbidge and Michele Walker, primarily starting as an English group, but now holding members of many nationalities.

I first met Mary at my interview, when I applied to join the group in 1992. From the very start she put me at ease and made me feel welcome and over the years was a huge inspiration to me, not just in her creativity and the wonderful works she produced but also in her attitude and warmth to newcomers.

Mary was a true master of her craft, she always remained faithful to her way of working but at the same time thought beyond traditional limitations, capturing a mood or atmosphere with the use of space, light, colour, and movement.

She was fascinated by converging and separating forms, a restricted range of colours and the interchange of light and dark. Her crisp, tailored approach, often using recycled fabrics, was very refreshing.

Sadly, Mary passed away in 2016, she will be greatly missed, but remembered as a gifted artist and more importantly – a woman of great perceptiveness and independence of spirit – and with a great sense of humour.

For more information visit:

Joan Mitchell

Joan Mitchell, Ladybug, oil painting, 198 x 274cm

Joan Mitchell, Ladybug, oil painting, 198 x 274cm

Joan Mitchell was an American painter best known for the compositional rhythms, bold coloration, and sweeping gestural brushstrokes of her large and often multi-panelled paintings. She was inspired by landscape, nature, and poetry – her intent was not to create a recognisable image, but to convey emotions.

I have been inspired by her work for a very long time and first saw her paintings in the 1970’s. I love her sense of space and richly coloured, calligraphic style, which balance elements of structured composition with wild abandonment, freedom and improvisation.

Joan Mitchell was a member of the American abstract expressionist movement, even though much of her career took place in France, she was one of her era’s few female painters to gain critical and public acclaim.

I chose her painting Ladybug for its pure colour, dense paint with liquid drips, flatness with relief leaving empty areas at the work’s edges suggests a basic ground where no landscape is clear. In her words, Joan Mitchell set out not to describe nature but “to paint what it leaves me with.”

She referred to herself as the last ‘Abstract Expressionist’ and continued to create abstract paintings until her death in 1992.

For more information visit:

Susan Shie

Susan Shie, The Fiesta Ware Quilt, art quilt, 221 x 137cm

Susan Shie, The Fiesta Ware Quilt, art quilt, 221 x 137cm

Susan Shie is a distinctive and world renown American quilt artist, who expresses herself through a variety of materials and techniques.

She incorporates text in her quilts; articulating her views on a range of historical and political topics which speaks to the viewer while also forming part of the quilts’ design. In all her work, she uses an individual approach to show us what she sees, thinks, or feels about the world around her.

I first became aware of her work in the 1980’s, when she won the Best of Show at Quilt National in 1987, her wit and humour, not to mention her stunning design, captivated visitors and fellow artists alike.

A good example of her early work is The Fiesta Ware Quilt, which represents her original and tactile style of beading, painting and overlaying which is unique to this talented artist.

In 1998 she started making the Kitchen Tarot project which she hopes will continue until at least 2022. In this series and current work, she has simplified her working process, preferring to let her air pen writing and drawing create what intrigues the viewer. Sewing is now secondary to the painted composition, switching from hand to machine quilting came from the realisation that her work is all in the storytelling.

For more information visit:

Lee Krasner

Lee Krasner, Shellflower, oil painting, 468 x 557cm

Lee Krasner, Shellflower, oil painting, 468 x 557cm

I happened to be Mrs Jackson Pollock and that’s a mouthful. I was a woman, Jewish, a widow, a damn good painter, thank you, and a little too independent

Lee Krasner was a talented and important artist during America’s Abstract Expressionism’s heydey, although her own career was often compromised by her role as supportive wife to Jackson Pollock, arguably America’s most significant post-war painter, she was rarely mentioned in her own right but often in the same reference to her husband.

Her painting Shellflower, is a stunning example from her Little Image Paintings series; it is rich in colour and surface texture and full of life and joyful movement.

I love her style of painting, and looking at it, it is not surprising that in later years, she too, also preferred using collage – later cutting up older canvases that she found lacking and recycling and reconfiguring these scraps and pieces to make new work.

I can relate to her doing this, as I often do it myself; I like to cut up and re-use old and current work to make something totally new – a prime example of this is my collage collection, Any Colour U Like.

Luckily, her work was rediscovered during the 1970s and she lived to see a greater recognition of her art and career, which continues to grow to this day.

For more information visit:

Tell us which artists you find inspirational by commenting below.

Sunday 25th, October 2020 / 14:05

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2 comments on “Bethan Ash: Art that inspires”

  1. Michele says:

    As soon as I saw this work I thought of Stuart Davis. It looks like he – one of my favorite artists – has had a lot of influence upon your work. No?

  2. I just love Bethans work, so full of movement, color, joy and gives plenty for the eye to wander over.

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