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The 2012 Helfa Gelf Art Trail

Mandy Coates basket making

Mandy Coates basket making

The artists from the North Wales areas of Conwyn Valley and Mountains are preparing for their biggest art event of the year.

A wide range of craft makers and artists have joined the annual Helfa Gelf Art Trail, which allows visitors to see how and where they work on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays right through September.

Mandy Coates is a contemporary and traditional basket maker from the area and she says that Helfa Gelf is getting bigger every year, and she has seen the difference over the 6 years she has been involved. Mandy added that being part of Helfa Gelf makes you realise you are not working in isolation and there are many other artists out there all part of a large, vibrant and local artistic community.

The local artists in the area are in the Conwy Valley and Mountains Cluster part of the Helfa Gelf Art Trail, when over 300 artists across Gwynedd, Conwy, Flintshire, Denbighshire and Wrexham open their studios to allow visitors to experience their creative world.

Mandy has been making baskets for 28 years, “I met a lady making a basket at a festival. What appealed to me was the simplicity of the tools and the fact that she gathered all her materials from the countryside around her. So I came back and began to make things from gathered materials. Then I started to grow willow to get the different colours – there are hundreds of different varieties,” said Mandy.

Beginning his artistic career in North Wales is Matt Sherratt, who recently moved to the Conwy Valley from London. “In London, where I was taught ceramics, I was just one of many artists in my field. Up here, I have the freedom and space to create my own work and try out new techniques and finishes. I hope I bring something unique to the Helfa Gelf Art Trail this year,” said Matt, ceramics sculptor.

Artists who open their studios share the inner workings of their creative world. Artists in the Conwy Valley and Mountains Cluster also include; Christine Birch, Blue Earthworm Studios, Anne Cambell, Alison Craig, Lisa Carter, Sue Fielding, Alison Goulbourne, Fiona Jones, Andrew LLoyd Jones and Sharon McCaig. A full range of art forms is available to visitors including: basket making, ceramics, drawing, felt, jewellery, painting, photography, printmaking, rag-rug making, sculpture, spinning, textiles and video making.

“The range of art is very diverse. It is exciting to start on the Art Trail and be recommended other artists to go and see and spend an interesting day. You never know where the Trail might lead you. With a vast range of artists to visit, it is important to plan your visit and check opening times,” said Mandy.

A mini bus tour is visiting artists, including Mandy and Matt, in rural Conwy on Saturday 15th September, to join the free bus tour and for more information email

A Helfa Gelf Art Trail guide book is widely available from local libraries, schools, tourist information centres, hotels, shops, galleries and Helfa Gelf Information Points. To help to plan your free artistic adventure, ‘The Art Trail Map’, an online interactive guide, is available at This includes information on studio locations, artist profiles, a gallery of images, directions to the studios, satellite map, access information and opening times.

New funding has allowed the further development of the website, the publication of the guide, the mini bus tour and the wider promotion of the event. The Helfa Gelf Art Trail project has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007–2013, which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

“Work is in my new kiln at the moment. I am testing the techniques I am going to use for primarily hand-thrown shapes and hand building to prepare a body of work for galleries and Helfa Gelf,” said Matt.

Whether you visit an established or a new artist, there is an amazing range of art available in the Conwy Valley and Mountains Cluster. During visits on the Helfa Gelf Art Trail, you can buy art direct from the maker or just experience the wide range of art from North Wales.

Cynhelir Helfa Gelf yn siroedd Gwynedd, Conwy, Dinbych, y Fflint a Wrecsam o ddydd Gwener i ddydd Sul trwy gydol mis Medi 2012

7,8,9 14,15,16 21,22,23 28,29,30 Medi 2012

Oriau Agor 11am–5pm

Mwy o fanylion, mapiau, delweddau, teithiau & newyddion diweddaraf:

Helfa Gelf /Art Trail takes place in Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham Counties from Friday to Sunday throughout September 2012.

7,8,9 14,15,16 21,22,23 28,29,30 September 2012

Studios are open from 11am–5pm

For further details, images and information about the studios go to:


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