Crystal, a feisty artist who specialises in nude paintings, decides to move to rural Wales from Manchester after a failed relationship. Going with her is her constant companion, a foul-mouthed parrot called Perkins, whose repertoire includes references to various body parts.
The Artist covers a year of Crystal’s new life and is split into seven self-contained stories. Crystal encounters the best and worst of life in the tight-knit community of Bala, in the picturesque foothills of Snowdonia. She meets David, a local farmer who comes wooing with gifts of fish, and Old Huw, a deceptively caring old gent who gives Crystal some very dodgy advice on the Welsh language, which turns her into a laughing stock when she tries to use it. She gets her own back by painting a picture of Huw in the nude, scaring a flock of local sheep with his huge appendage and persuades his local pub, The Glyndwr Arms, to hang the portrait behind the bar.
In other stories, Bala suffers a power cut as the remnants of Hurricane Harry sweep in from the Atlantic, just as Crystal prepares for the Bala’s Got Talent contest. She and David are favourites to win, despite Huw’s rendition of a Harry Lauder classic – in Welsh – and the Dolly Parton lookalike’s breasts deflating while she tells the story of A Coat of Many Colours. Along the way, David gets embroiled in a boxing match with a local cage fighter, and Crystal comes up against the Women of the Mountains, a nutty Presbyterian sect who object to her presence in God-fearing Wales...
The Artist is a laugh-out-loud collection of tales that are perfect to relax with. It will particularly strike a chord with anyone who has had to get used to a completely unfamiliar place and its ways.