This shoal of herrings darts through the air on the quay at Lower Town Fishguard. It’s an arresting image, reminding the passer-by of the historic importance of the herring catch to the economy of the town.
The artist doesn’t get a mention on the plaque but this is the work of John Cleal, a South African émigré who made his home in Lower Town in the early 1960s and whose house on Glyn-Y-Mel was one of the first art centres in our part of North Pembrokeshire. He provided free studio and display space for up to 15 crafts people at any time and his fine gallery offered the rest of us artistic excitement in this quiet cul-de-sac along the Gwaun river.
In 1996 Workshop Wales moved to Manorowen where it is still run by John Cleal’s son, Mitchell. The Gallery exhibits during the summer months and although it is hidden away in the backroads, there are plenty of signs to direct you from the Goodwick – St David’s road.
Bear in mind that you are in Pembrokeshire where corrugated iron has ‘heritage appeal’ and this shed that, in England, might remind you of trading estate architecture settles into its beautiful setting where the blues and greys reflect the sea and the sky and complement the carefully planted garden.
John Cleal died in 2007. During his life time he had generously donated artworks to local hospitals and public spaces. Since his death his family has carried out his wish to have his sculpture ‘Sun Lover’ sited at Lower Town, Fishguard, in recognition of his great affection for the area where he lived for more than 40 years.