Projects completed between 2018 - 2019
Karen Couchman is responsible for the information on this page.

Prestigious Welsh Assembly Sponsored Exhibition at their Pierhead Gallery, Cardiff Bay

In January and February 2018, MDFAS exhibited the two WW1 Quilts in a dedicated exhibition; at the prestigious Welsh Assembly Pierhead Gallery in Cardiff Bay.
This event was kindly sponsored and launched by Nick Ramsay AM. Also attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Abergavenny, accompanied with much supporting publicity.
This publicity now includes sets of five cards for sale; all the proceeds go towards our Young Arts projects
The exhibition was seen by 7,000 people.

Quilt 1 on Exhibition WW1 Quilt inh Cardiff Quilt 2 on Exhibition

Pierhead buildingCards for sale Newspaper article

WW1 Quilt

WW1 Quilt

'Wales Remembers' Centenary Partnership Day

At the end of January we were invited, as a Committee, to participate at a prestigious day organised by the Welsh Government: 'Wales Remembers 1914-1918', in collaboration with the Imperial War Museum (IWM) and The Centenary Partnership at the iconic Assembly Pierhead Building, Cardiff. This event brought together attendees from community groups; including the police, armed forces, and the Quakers to introduce and present Centenary projects from across Wales:
Programmed interactive discussions were held on a rotating table basis. The Day was very humbling and informative. It was a real privilege to take part.
As well as introducing the two WW1 commemorative quilts that were on exhibition upstairs, Karen Couchman, our Young Arts Representative, highlighted and advocated for the importance of sponsored arts sessions in Schools. See speech extract:

'This project came at a time where community and school art funding is at an all-time low and demonstrates the great impact that our young art projects can have both personally and for the wider community and schools. This project demonstrates that art can play a key role in commemorating events and depicting history, in working collaboratively with communities and schools and in creating a platform for young people to learn new skills. It is from the conversations that were had amongst the young people, the teachers, the artists in these projects that we continue to feed the passion for promoting the arts and preserving history for the next generation. The young people involved in this project have not only created a memory, but they too have created an important educational tool. I would like to invite you all to take the time during this conference or after to explore this exhibit (quilts) and the workmanship the young people have put into it. The Quilts have brought much enjoyment to the community; identifying with children and adults alike'

Karen Couchman speech

Sixth Form Drawing Workshop- King Henry VIII School (KHS), Abergavenny

Led by local Artist/Educator Emma Price, MDFAS sponsored a very successful observational drawing workshop using 'natural form'. Thoroughly enjoyed by their Sixth Form students. This workshop will be further rolled out in autumn term 2019, at Monmouth Comprehensive School.

Workshop Workshop


Never Such Innocence

Further to our success at The Welsh Assembly, MDFAS was invited to participate in the International competition, 'Never Such Innocence' with the two WW1 Quilts
With over 7,000 entries from 43 countries and five Continents, we received a 'Special Commendation' and given a place in the 'Winners booklet'. The day was supported by the heads of the Armed Forces with personal messages, including the support of the PM.
All the pupils who participated, as well as ourselves, were given certificates. We have been invited to participate in further competitions

NSI Banners Winner's Booklet NSI Order of Service


Usk Hub quilt exhibition commemorates the brave of World War One

Monmouthshire's Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Laura Jones added: 'The quilts are a fine tribute to those who served in the First World War, particularly so as we approach one hundred years since the signing of the Armistice. I'm sure the Usk community will welcome the quilts as they are exhibited at the town's hub and I'm looking forward to taking my young son to see them'.

'Usk Community Hub will commemorate the centenary of the First World War with a display of two impressive and colourful quilts designed by 130 Monmouthshire children including some from the town's primary school. The quilts were produced three years ago and originally unveiled in Abergavenny's community hub. They mark the significant contribution that the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment made to the War and its heavy losses at Ypres. The quilts were commissioned by The Arts Society Monmouthshire. Its youth arts officer Karen Couchman said: 'Seven artists worked closely with the schoolchildren to produce the quilts, and themes included animals and their roles in the war, life in the trenches, nursing, poppies, World War One poets and going over the top'. (Press release: Monmouthshire Council)

Usk Hub
Photo: Picture of the quilts at Usk Community Hub

100 Years of Woman's Suffrage

We launched a prize giving competition to celebrate a 100 years of Woman's Suffrage. Karen wrote the lesson, for ease of use. We invited all 38 schools in Monmouthshire to participate.

Read the Background History

Votes for women

The Royal British Legion - Thank You Competition

We entered the quilts into their Centenary competition, but unfortunately there were no Group winners

British Legion Thank you

Continued Success-The Arts Society/RBA Competition 2018/19 Winning Entry

Each summer, Karen visits the Secondary Schools in Monmouthshire to view all the A-Level work. Karen then works with the teacher's to select work which then has to be named, titled, measured, photographed, edited and presented to be uploaded individually to the Arts Society.

The Arts Society in conjunction with The Royal Society of British Artists (RBA), then chose the very best of works from across the country. This year we were again successful with Robert Bowman's painting entitled, 'Icarus', Robert was a Sixth Form pupil from Haberdasher's School for Boys, Monmouth .

The 21 finalists were chosen for their exceptional artworks which combine the highest levels of skill, expression and draughtsmanship using a variety of mediums, exploring equally varied subjects. This year 36 Societies submitted 247 works so the RBA council had difficult choices to make.
Robert's work will be exhibited in London at the Royal Overseas League (ROSL) Exhibition in London starting 26th April-19th June 2019 at The Overseas House, London 11am-6pm daily

3rd July- 13th July 2019 Royal Society of British Artists 302 Exhibition at the Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1-10am-5pm daily


Robert Bowman painting 'Icarus'

' This painting was created in a two-day workshop using oil paints on canvas. I focused mainly on the face itself, using a large amount of linseed oil in the background to create more of a wash with little colour to stop it standing out. The face itself was painted with a slight reference to Lucian Freud, as I tried to leave visible brush stokes following the contours of the face. Having previously been experimenting with mixing shades of blue into the skin tones, I decided to carry on the theme using a cold blue as the combining colour for the painting, repeating it in the eyes and jumper. As well as this I incorporated red into the shadows which ended in the face seeming to be slightly bruised, which fit well with the subject matter.
The work is a depiction of Icarus having just fallen from the sky after flying too near the sun. The flowers and leaves adorning his head are a representation of an earthly crown. I tried to make his face as restful as possible to indicate him dwindling between life and death, while the eyes are meant to look longingly up into the sky that he has just fallen from'. (Robert Bowman)
The Arts Society/ RBA submissions 2018 PDF

Robert Bowman painting

The Arts Society Monmouthshire Submissions for The Arts Society/RBA Competition 2018/19

Angus McIntyre, Harry Sully, Robert Bowman,Andrew Cole, Wilfred Wright, Emily Eeles
Emily Eeeles was one of last year's winners' as an AS pupil at King Henry VIII School at Abergavenny


Westminster Abbey Armistice Day Service 2019 in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen.

A privileged invitation was issued to Karen by Her Majesty's Government for community project work with Monmouthshire schoolchildren. This was carried out on behalf of the Society, to mark the Centenary of WW1.

The Queen at Westminster Abbey Service

Westminster Abbey - Karen

Nov/December 2018.
A series of visits to include two Clay Tile Art Workshops at Osbaston CW Primary School, Monmouth.

The workshop was designed and led by Artist/ Educationalist Erica Pinney
The Schools Curriculum Theme was World War 2. As with all our workshops our approach is highly professional and informative with an introduction to the day as well as demonstrations of use of materials, followed by one to one support.
'What happened to women when men were away at war'
Erica Kindly donated the clay and glazes and carried out her kiln firing 'Free of Charge'. Thank you Erica.

School Feedback:
Thank you for organising the workshop for us ­ the children absolutely loved it and we all fell in love with Erica! What a wonderful lady! Shelley x Osbaston CW Primary School

Osbaston Osbaston Osbaston

Osbaston clayOsbaston

Further Workshops for 2019

March 11th and 20th 2019:WW2 Clay Tile Workshop with Erica Pinney Cantref Primary, Abergavenny-

March 21st 2019: Printing workshop at King Henry VIII School, Abergavenny with Kumar Saraff

Spring 2019 Term: A printing workshop is to take place at Monmouth Comprehensive

April 11th: Young Arts Presentation to members

June: Young Carer's in Monmouthshire are also having a tie-dye printed workshop.

We are also in planning for a day workshop in the School holidays before Summer 2019 with stop-motion pictures and puppetry.

July/ August 2019: The Arts Society/RBA CompetitionA-Level countywide perusal and entries to be submitted by The Arts Society, Monmouthshire


Projects completed between 2017 - 2018  

Congratulations to A Level pupil Emily Eeles from King Henry VIII Comprehensive School, Abergavenny who has had her work selected for three prestigious Art Exhibitions in London Monmouthshire Decorative and Fine Arts Society, affiliated to the Arts Society, are delighted to tell you that Emily Eeles's Natural Form has been selected for exhibition at the Royal Over-Seas League, St James, London W1 from 23 January to 8 March 2018, then at the Framers Gallery, London W1 from 12th - 17th March, and then at the RBA's annual show at the Mall Galleries from (date tba) March to 31 March 2018. She has received the RBA Star Student certificate. Well done to all who have taken part.
This year 39 fellow Societies submitted 272 works from schools across the UK so the RBA council had difficult choices to make.
KHS Workshop

rsba exhibition
Emily Eeles
emilys drawing


Student: Quinnell James King Henry VIII Comprehensive School, Abergavenny ‘Daily Routine’ Pencil on Paper 81.5cm H x 59cm W
Student: Callum Roberts Monmouth Comprehensive School ‘Portrait of Andrew Cole’ Acrylic on Canvas 100cm H x 85cm W
big ben
Student: Bradley Smith Monmouth Comprehensive School ‘Big Ben Strikes’ Oil on Board 30cm H x 500cm W

Projects completed between 2014 - 2016

WW1 Quilt - a Quilt depicting World War 1 made by 130 school pupils in Monmouthshire,

This Quilt has been produced by pupils from five schools within Monmouthshire: King Henry VIII and Cantref Primary, Abergavenny; Osbaston CW School, Monmouth; Usk CW School and Caldicot Secondary.

130 pupils took part in 10 funded school-based, artist-led workshops, through the Young Arts Programme of Monmouthshire Decorative and Fine Arts Society (MDFAS) to commemorate WW1. 90 pupils were of primary school age, in Year 6 (11 years old) and 40 pupils were of secondary age, in Year 9 (14 years old).

A second quilt, produced at the same time, was sewn together in February 2016. The quilt materials and workshops have been funded by Monmouthshire Decorative and Fine Art Society with contributions from an educational grant by our parent society NADFAS, as well as a raffle. It took eighteen months to raise the money for this project. Other MDFAS funded school art workshops run alongside this.

All the schools were given an introduction to First World War themes and the significant contribution that the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment made to the War and their heavy losses at Ypres in 1915. The pupils are really proud of their achievements and see the quilts as their legacy to the next generation. The 140 quilt squares (including panels) were made by the pupils within three weeks at the end of the Summer Term 2015. The panels were designed by the 7 artists involved; two artists worked intensively alongside teachers, teaching assistants and some parents due to the nature of the textile work and given that many pupils had not sewn before.

WW1 Quilt

WW1 Quilt

This quilt consists of 70 squares of nine inches each (quilters traditionally work in inches). Methods taught and used were: drawing their own design based on given themes, design methods, applique, bondaweb, drawing with sharpies, tie-dye, embroidery techniques, screen printing, hand printing with screen ink using pre-cut stencils, cutting out fabric using pre-cut stencils for patterns, selecting and free-hand cutting of fabric, sewing on of buttons, using measuring techniques to scale up drawings, felting and making couture poppies.

Themes of the quilts were: WW1 poets, WW1 animals and their role in the war; these included carrier pigeons, war dogs, glow worms in jars used as a light on the battlefield, life in the trenches, 'over the top', WW1 nurses, the Abergavenny War Memorial and couture poppies with a couture designer. It is intended for the Quilts to travel around key venues within Monmouthshire.

For further enquiries please contact us:
Every pupil that took part in the creation of the quilt was awarded a 'Certificate of Achievement' by Monmouthshire DFAS, as recognition of all their hard work and the tribute they have paid to those involved in WW1. MDFAS would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank, Councillor John Prosser, The Mayoress and Monmouthshire County Council for their great interest in our WW1 Quilt Project run in conjunction with Monmouthshire Schools. As well as their subsequent launch of the WW1 Quilt One in time for Remembrance Sunday 2015. This Quilt has been on window display at the Abergavenny One Stop Shop until mid-January 2016. The Quilt has been well received by the public.

For more information abut the quilt workshoprs click on title below....

Workshop 1 Workshops 2, 3 and 4 Animals in war
Starting up
Quilt pieces
The launch of the WW1 Quilt
a patch a patch

a patch
Work in progress

NADFAS RBA Annual Exhibition 2016

Last year work from three Secondary Schools within Monmouthshire was submitted for consideration for the NADFAS/RBA Annual Exhibition 2016 for outstanding 'A' Level students. Work was selected from King Henry VIII School, Abergavenny, Caldicot School and Monmouth Comprehensive School. Each participant is awarded a certificate.

This year no work from Monmouthshire has been selected to go forward for the exhibition.

Please see PDF NADFAS/RBA Submission

an example

Our recent success has been..

Every year the Royal Society of British Artists and NADFAS run a competition to select, promote and showcase the very best of A Level student work happening nationally.
Scholar certificate
MDFAS helped select and shortlist suitable candidates.
The work of 6 pupils was entered from Monmouthshire. We are delighted to announce that Oriane Pierrepoint, an A Level pupil from Monmouth Comprehensive School has been selected to exhibit, not just one, but two pieces of her work, out of just 23 pieces chosen from 19 students nationwide.
This will take place at the prestigious Mall Galleries, London from the 11th to 21st March, alongside the RBA Artists at their annual Exhibition in March 2015. Oriane is now studying towards a Fine Art Degree.

She is the only student from Wales selected and given the title of RBA Scholar with a certificate.
In addition, Orianne has been invited by NADFAS and the RBA to also exhibit her work in the RBA Rising Stars Exhibition currently taking place at the Lloyds Registry Gallery London from the 4th February to the 5th March

Orianne's work

This coming year Young Arts are looking to undertake the addition of a textile project to be created via Artist-led workshops in 2015 in commemoration of the Centenary of WWI
This shall engage community participation alongside the artwork of children of junior and secondary age in Monmouthshire. Currently we are only able to provide a limited number of workshops due to funding, therefore MDFAS Young Arts are always seeking to raise much needed funds in the form of raffle prizes, donations and grant applications.
Thanks to the kind support of all our members the Christmas Raffle with donations raised £ 246.00 for Young Arts projects. In addition we have been awarded £1500 from the Patricia Fay Memorial Fund to help fund our projects, kindly supported in our Grant Application by Area NADFAS West Mercia

Orianne's work
Orianne’s work

The Young Arts Programme

For over a decade the Young Arts programme has been an important focus for MDFAS helping to preserve and nurture art for the next generation
With the support from our members, MDFAS has been able to sponsor and organise free Artist-led workshops for the benefit of thousands of children in Monmouthshire. The Young Arts Programme utilises local artists to undertake creative workshops with children.

Our specialist workshops have included the creation of school building mosaics, murals and individual artwork exploring different media alongside art history for Secondary, Primary and Special Needs schools enriching curricular activities and community projects.

Bookbinding workshop
A Level students from King Henry VIII, Abergavenny,
after a bookbinding workshop with Kevin Karney

Monmouth Comprehensive School

This was a Day Workshop at Monmouth Comprehensive School: with 20 AS/A-Level and some GCSE students working with local Abergavenny Sculptor Matt Caines. Creating sculptures looking at historical sources, how to look and create with the use of wood, copper sheeting and wire etc. Matt’s wife kindly assisted on the day free of charge to help with the heavy use of tools including a Dentist’s drill!

Osbaston CiW Primary School

This was a Day workshop benefitting 40 pupils at Osbaston CW Primary School, Monmouth, With local artist Adrian Higgins and his printing press. The children created pictures for ’a scene from my spaceship’ that can be entered for an International Space competition I found on the Internet.

Space print
Space print
Adrian with his press

  Cantref Primary School, Abergavenny

This was a Day workshop benefitting 30 pupils at Cantref Primary School,Abergavenny ’Take One Picture’ is the National Gallery’s countrywide scheme for primary schools. Each year the Gallery focuses on one painting from the collection to inspire cross-curricular work in primary classrooms. Local artist Erica Pinney spent a day at the School’s Art Week. Looking closely at Bathers at Asnieres by Georges Seurat to ignite the children’s curiosity. Inspired by the painting, they explored lines of enquiry, including rivers, industry, changing landscapes, leisure and painting techniques such as pointillism later transforming the two- dimensional painting with further exploration with the use of three-dimensional structures

Bathers - Seurat

  Llantilio Pertholey CW Primary School, Abergavenny

This was a Day Clay workshop with Materials provided, for Llantilio Pertholey CW Primary School, Abergavenny: 50 children made clay tiles with animals and vegetation from observation with artist Kathy Fleen Doran from South Wales Potters.
Equipment was loaned from a school in Malvern for the event. These were to then be painted, lacquered and possibly assembled as a mural.



Bird Leopard

Projects completed between 2011 - 2013
Karen Couchman is responsible for the information on this page.

Two puppetsA Puppet Workshop at Osbaston Primary School
On 2nd May 2013 Jennifer Cope held a puppet workshop at Osbaston for some pupils from Years 5 and 6. At least 20 children had a wonderful, creative day making puppets using all sorts of old bits of material, pipe cleaners, newspaper, knitting wool, string and foam. Some had a distinctly Roman feel about them, some were ghostly while others were verging on fashion design. It was all the more worthwhile as the children had been unable to go on a school trip.




Cantref Primary School, Abergavenny
Jane Rees-Parfitt gave a pottery workshop at Cantref school just before the end of term. Designs were loosely based on Roman articles found at Caerleon. Jane has her own kiln and so took the pottery home for firing.

Trellech workshop Trellech Primary
Three very different artists gave a workshop at Trellech Primary looking at landscape, over three days. The children were asked to paint or draw a picture on a postcard for an exhibition being held in Trellech in aid of Art4Africa.
Karen Couchman got the children to think of African landscapes, animals and jungles working with paint.
Helena Jay showed them how to use colour pencils depicting animals
Jennifer Cope got them to use all sorts of materials to produce very exciting textured drawings.
Trellech workshop

Usk workshop
Mosaic in progressUsk Primary :
Mosaic Workshop with Susie Strange

The Monmouthshire Decorative and Fine Arts Society (MDFAS) sponsored the Muralist and Mosaicist, Susan Strange to produce a mosaic for the entrance Hall at Usk Primary School. About 30 pupils were selected to help with the designing and preparation of the project, and other pupils who passed by and wanted to help, were encouraged to take part in the final placing of the pieces.
The design centres round the School motto ‘Believe, Achieve, Succeed’, and incorporates the School logo, Usk Castle, and animals and trees to reflect counryside around the school.
Headmaster Jared Nolan, is delighted with the result, as are the children, who had an opportunity to work with a professional Artist, and also to work as a team. Susie and her husband are now based near Ipswich, but live as much as possible on their boat. She still has friends and family in Monmouthshire, so we were lucky to have her. This mosaic is one of a number of projects that MDFAS sponsors each year in Monmouthshire schools.

Usk workshop

Drawing workshop
Osbaston drawing workshop
Osbaston Primary : Drawing Workshop with Helena Jay Osbaston Workshop

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