Enthusiasm

Saturday 1st July 2017, 12-10pm

 

Redhouse, Old Town Hall, High Street, Merthyr CF47 8AE

 

FREE

 


Peak/Copa is pleased to support Enthusiasm

 

A project by Victoria Donovan and Stefhan Caddick

 

Enthusiasm is a migration story spanning Merthyr Tydfil and Ukraine; the 1860s to the present day. This innovative, interdisciplinary one-day arts event brings together musicians, members of the community, archivists and historians to take a radical look at a little-known historical episode that links Merthyr and the South Wales Valleys to the Donbas in Ukraine and asks how the legacy of this past continues to resonate in our social, cultural and political landscape today.

For more information visit: www.stefhancaddick.co.uk

In 1869, Welsh industrialist John Hughes founded the mining town of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine, initiating a wave of migration from South Wales to Eastern Europe. 1917 and the approaching Russian Revolution saw the hasty exit of the industrialists who had followed Hughes, fearful of the revolutionary ferment. 100 years later, in the present day, Ukraine and the Donbas are once again at the centre of a violent conflict that has led to the internal displacement of over a million  people.

Enthusiasm will bring to life some of the elements of this fascinating and timely story, via film, music, image, food and discussion.

Enthusiasm includes:

• Performance of a selection of migrant letters by local and diasporan voices.

• Exhibition of historic photographs of Donetsk from the Glamorgan Archives and contemporary images by Ukrainian photographer Alexander Chekmenev

• A programme of workshops and activities

• Screening: Enthusiasm: The Donbass Symphony (1931) by Ukrainian revolutionary film maker Dziga Vertov with a new original score performed live by composer Simon Gore.

 

View a pdf of the full programme for the day 

Dr Victoria Donovan, originally from Cardiff, is a cultural historian of Russia based at the University of St Andrews. Donovan was selected as one of ten academics in the ‘New Generation Thinker 2016’ scheme.
www.ahrc.ac.uk

 

Stefhan Caddick is a visual artists who works in video, installation and performance. His practice is often a collaborative engagement that sources its materials from institutions, communities and individuals.
www.stefhancaddick.co.uk

Project Partners: 
University of St AndrewsGlamorgan ArchivesRussia 17, Peak/Copa: Contemporary Art in the Black Mountains, Redhouse Cymru

Image credit: 
Image: still from Dziga Vertov’s Enthusiasm: The Donbass Symphony (1931) (from the collection of the Austrian Film Museum. Frame enlargement Georg Wasner)

Y Gors Ddu / The Black Bog

Join us for an informal event to view Allen Fisher’s work in progress and discover more about the Black Bog.

 

SATURDAY 10TH JUNE, 10am-1pm
(panel discussion will start promptly at 11am)

 

Arts Alive Wales
The Old School, Brecon Road, Crickhowell, NP8 1DG

 

FREE. Refreshments served. To book a place:  info@artsalivewales.org.uk / 01873 811579

Artist, Allen Fisher has created a new collection of paintings on y Waen Ddu, the Black Bog – a rare raised peat bog situated on the Craig Y Cilau nature reserve in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Allen is drawn to the cultural associations of peat bogs as sites of Iron Age sacrifice, preservation and divination as well as their ecological importance as rich environments of biodiversity and carbon capture. Peak/Copa, in collaboration with BBC Cymru R&D has produced 360 degree film footage and binaural sound recordings of Allen creating new work on site.

Rebecca Spooner, Creative Director, will host a panel discussion with Allen and two guest speakers:

 – Allen Fisher is based in Hereford and is a poet, painter and tutor associated with the British Poetry Revival and the Fluxus movement. His work is represented by Tate gallery. Allen will talk about his attraction to working on site with the ponds of y Waen Ddu and his working process. He will also discuss the enduring need amongst artists to work directly in the landscape, particularly referencing the land art movement of the twentieth century.

– Archaeologist and author, Professor Miranda Aldhouse-Green, will discuss the historical and cultural context of peat bogs. Referring to her critically acclaimed book Bog Bodies Uncovered (Thames & Hudson. 2015) Miranda will tell us more about the remains of prehistoric people who have been revealed in the bogs of northern Europe. In many cases their skin, hair, nails, and marks of injury survive, betraying the violence and ritual that surrounded their deaths. Who were these unfortunate people, and why were they killed

– Geologist Alan Bowring is the Fforest Fawr Geopark Development Officer for the Brecon Beacons National Park Authrority. Alan will talk about the ecological and geological significance of the Criag Y Cilau site and its importance within the National Park.  In 2013 Alan discovered a rare example of Bronze Age rock art, more than 4,000 years old  in the Brecon Beacons.

Our Digital Manager, Gavin Johnson will discuss the documentation of Allen Fisher’s project in partnerhsip with BBC Cymru and the potential for digital technology in artist projects.

Directions and parking information can be found on the Visit Us page of the Arts Alive Wales website.

Photo credit: Toril Brancher

Tirlun Gwaith / Working Landscape

Recordio bywyd ar dyddynnod Canolbarth Cymru
Recording life on the smallholdings of mid Wales

 

Peak/Copa yng Ngŵyl Wanwyn y Sioe Frenhinol: 20 a 21 Mai 2017
Peak/Copa at the Royal Welsh Spring Festival: 20 & 21 May 2017

 

I don’t like to plan too much.
I’m trying to put back the natural wilderness.
Oak birch hazel thorn mountain ash ash.
A farm opening its arms wide to change,
as the same birds circle there, above,
singing their song.
And everybody on the farm looks up.

The Peak/Copa team pitched up the Horsebox Studio at the Royal Welsh Spring Festival in Builth Wells, where we presented a mini museum of tools from agricultural life of the 19th and 20th centuries. The objects were selected from the personal collection of historian, author and dry stonewaller, Stuart Fry. Over 230 people visited the Horsebox and we invited farmers and smallholders to talk with us to find out more about their experiences and memories of working on the land.

You can listen to recordings from the conversations here: soundcloud.com

We were delighted to be joined by Welsh poet Jonathan Edwards (winner of the Costa Poetry Prize 2014) who created a new poem for each person in response to their conversations.

You can read Jonathan’s poems here:
Tirlun Gwaith _ Working Landscape

And now a group of boys there on a bridge,
this summer of scything and leisure hours,
green, green leaves and lambing,
Summers don’t seem to be summers anymore.
It’s a life. It’s a life that’s gone now.

A short article from Jonathan reflecting on the weekend:


It was an enormous privilege to work with visitors to the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Spring Festival. As I don’t come from a farming background at all, it was fascinating to hear the great variety of experiences which farming generates. The people we interviewed ranged from a woman in her twenties who’d taken to farming despite her fiancé’s lack of enthusiasm, delivering lambs with her engagement ring on, through to people who’d been in farming for sixty years, who’d seen all sorts of changes and talked with pride of passing their experiences on to the new generation.

One farmer we spoke to discussed his childhood in the 1950s, when he skipped school to work on the farm. In a family of butchers, my father had the same experience, skipping school to cart a delivery bike all over the valleys through his teens, so I was really interested in that connection, and the impact of a family business on education and opportunities. As a writer, I was also really struck by the care and delicacy of some of the processes farmers go through in their work. For example, one man discussed how part of his job at the moment involves seeding hedges, and to do so the seed needs to be removed from the berry and the poisonous pith around it. Having tried food blenders and all sorts of different apparatus, the conclusion has been that completing the process by hand is the only option, and that sort of daily process in some ways sums up the passion, patience and tenderness that the people I spoke to bring to their daily lives. Another farmer had developed from scratch a 13,000-tree wood on a piece of land he’d purchased. He spoke of going into his wood, the world he’d made, and spending hours there, the birds, the trees, how it felt protective. In that making of worlds to walk round in, that single-minded passion, there was much as a writer I could relate to.

It’s an enormous responsibility to take the experiences someone has been generous enough to share with you and form them into a piece of writing, to honour the art as well as the person. My favourite part of the weekend was seeing people’s reactions when I read the poems to them, when their lives and stories were given back to them. The gifts I received in return included five Welsh cakes, one pint, one handshake, one hug, nine smiles, one spontaneous round of applause and one offer of a bed if I ever happened to be passing through Cwmdu. Knowing how I might react if anyone ever wrote a poem about me, I’d been practising for weeks my read-and-duck method to avoid any punches, but it was never needed. Because of the quick turnaround, with each piece being written in half an hour or an hour to get to the next person in the queue, these are nascent, infant poems, first drafts, saplings, the sort of sketches my mother might make with a pencil before taking them home and getting the oils or the watercolours out. The material the farmers were kind enough to share with us was incredible, and my hope is that, with apologies for this obvious comparison, like one farmer’s berry or another’s forest, in the coming weeks and months, I can get rid of the places where the poems aren’t up to the job, can make them better, make them bloom and grow.

– Jonathan Edwards
May 2017

Images, Film and Sound Recordings by Sion Marshall Waters

With thanks to the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society and everyone who stopped by the Horsebox Studio to share their story.

 

 

Tirlun Gwaith / Working Landscape

Recordio bywyd ar dyddynnod Canolbarth Cymru
Recording life on the smallholdings of mid Wales 

Peak/Copa yng Ngŵyl Wanwyn y Sioe Frenhinol: 20 a 21 Mai 2017
Peak/Copa at the Royal Welsh Spring Festival: 20 & 21 May 2017

sgyrsiau / gweithdai ysgrifennu / amgueddfa fach / atgof / recordiadau digidol / llyfrgell / barddoniaeth
conversations / writing workshops / mini museum / reminiscence / digital recordings / library / poetry

Gweithgareddau am ddim i bob oed.
Dewch o hyd i ni yn Stiwdio Horsebox, Neuadd Morgannwg Ganol.
Free activities for all ages.
Find us at the Horsebox Studio, South Glamorgan Hall.

Cydnabyddiaeth ffotograffau: Toril Brancher. Gyda diolch i Stuart Fry.
Photo credit: Toril Brancher. With thanks to Stuart Fry.

Coal Tree Salt Sea

Peak has been supporting artist Sarah Rhys, based in Mamilhad, Monmouthshire, with her current project Coal Tree Salt Sea. Sarah is preparing for a solo exhibition at Abergavenny Museum from 18th Jan – 1st March 2017.

 


‘Coal Tree Salt Sea
 began in Ystradgynlais when I met the Josef Herman Art Foundation Cymru. I was interested in archiving work for the Mining Josef Herman Project. Through this initial meeting the Foundation became interested in the way that I working and in particular my approach to ‘place’. This led to an invitation to develop an artist residency in partnership with them for which I was awarded a research and development grant from the Arts Council of Wales.

The early phase of the work was based around Ystradgynlais, but since the project was also influenced by the people I came into contact with, ensuing conversations caused a rhizome of connections and meanings. This led to a research trip to Poland, Josef Herman’s country of origin. There I explored a salt mine as a counterpart to the coalmines in Wales, I subsequently accepted an invitation to meet a group of poets and artists in Prague, known in medieval times as the City of Alchemy.’

– Sarah Rhys
rhysstudio.org

Sarah is self publishing an artist book with her Coal Tree Press to accompany the exhibition at Abergavenny Museum, which will also be presented at Oriel Q, Narbeth from 5th August to 3rd September.

 

The book is now available for order from rhysstudio.org/shop

 

The following extract is from a conversation with Dr Iain Biggs, Co- Director of PLaCE International.

Iain Biggs: How did the Coal Tree come about?

Sarah Rhys: ‘I had spent a few days in Budapest in Autumn preceding my residency. In the Jewish Quarter, I was particularly moved by a sculpture in the garden of the Synagogue: a huge silver tree that bore the names of Jews murdered by the Nazis, engraved on its leaves. At the base of the tree were branches representing whole families that had been systematically destroyed It was a very striking image. In the Judaic, Christian and Hermetic tradition of the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life is the central mystical symbol.

Later on, after I had started my residency, a strong and compelling image came to mind: of coal pouring from a cattle horn and then later from a hollow tree. A sort of inverse geology and cornucopia.

I wanted to make something outside in the landscape and wanted to find a hollow oak tree. Oak felt appropriate, significant: both oak and animal horns feature widely in Celtic culture.

In Welsh, oak is derwen, and druid is derwyddon, which means oak knowledge.

I met Arwel Michael from the Ystradgynlais Heritage and Language Society through the Josef Herman Art Foundation. He took me to a tree on a hill in nearby Cwmgiedd, where he lives. This ancient hollow oak had served as a den for him and his friends in childhood. This oak had all the right qualities.

Arwel had acted in the Humphrey Jennings documentary film The Silent Village (1943) in which he appeared, aged two, sitting on his father’s knee. Humphrey Jennings chose Cwmgiedd as a parallel village to Lidice in the Czech Republic.

Interestingly, Arwel has been active in preserving the Lidice / Cwmgiedd link over the years and plans to import a pear tree graft taken from the sole surviving tree of the Lidice atrocities in WW2. The tree will be planted in Cwmgiedd.’

Copyright – Sarah Rhys.
Mamhilad, Monmouthshire, September 2016.

Limelight / Calcholau

Rob Smith & Charles Danby

Cardiff Contemporary
www.cardiffcontemporary.co.uk

Limelight : an archive

Castle Arcade, Cardiff
22 October – 19th November
Tuesday – Saturday 11am-6pm / Sunday 11am-5pm

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Limelight
is a project developed by collaborative artists Rob Smith and Charles Danby, based in Newcastle. Supported by Peak/Copa and the Canal & River Trust, the project researches and responds to the working landscape of canals, quarries, tramways and kilns that serviced the lime industry of the rural Black Mountains which in turn fed the nation’s heavy industries that roared through South Wales.

For their Cardiff Contemporary commission, the artists have used digital means to bring reflections on this history to urban audiences by streaming live illuminations at nightfall from Llangattock Limekilns in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park to the Welsh capital and online. The live stream event (on 22nd October) presented multiple perspectives of landscape, combining live with recorded footage, audio and performance in an immersive experience. The illuminations were created with limelight itself, an intense, pure white light generated through heating quicklime at high temperature, used in the 19th century for land survey work and stage lighting. Each live broadcast will lasted as long as it took for the chemical reaction to be exhausted.


Peak/Copa pitched up its Horsebox Studio outside Cardiff Castle during the opening weekend of Cardiff Contemporary (Friday 21st – Sunday 23rd October)
 which acted as a resource space for members of the public with an intriguing collection of artist films, vintage books, maps and lime materials related to the Limelight project.


Rob and Charles organised a replica limekiln burning at Llangattock during their research week in the Black Mountains in September 2016
. The public event introduced the project and facilitated discussion about the lime industry and canal network.

 

ARTIST INFORMATION

Artists Rob Smith and Charles Danby are based in Newcastle and have collaborated since 2011. Rob brings a materially engaged approach to digital technologies, exploring the possibilities of live and networked art such as Radiometer (2011) and Field Broadcast – a live streaming project that enables artists to make live broadcasts from remote sites. Charles brings wide academic and curatorial experience challenging conventional approaches to archives and British art histories including projects such as Grand National – Art from Britain, Vestfossen, Norway (2010), Animated Environments, Siobhan Davies Studios, London (2011-12) and Das Traumann at Baltic (2015). He is a senior lecturer at Northumbria University.

In 2014 Smith and Danby organised Revisiting the Quarry, a symposium in conjunction with the Hayward exhibition Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966-79 at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. In 2014 the artists were commissioned as part of Shelter, a project on Lindisfarne, Northumberland. Taking limestone from a quarry on the island they made a small scale lime kiln and produced quicklime that was subsequently used to create new sculptures called Repaired Rocks. These works repaired limestone rocks from the quarry, extending themes of industrial process within the landscape and the nature of post-industrial reparation to a site.
www.danbysmith.com

 

PROJECT INFORMATION

Peak/Copa creates opportunities for contemporary art in the Black Mountains for the benefit of the region’s artists, communities and visitors. The inspiration for Peak lies in an enthusiasm for the exceptional artists working in the Black Mountains and the distinctive, natural landscape of the region as a unique resource. Peak works in partnership with environmental and heritage organisations such as Canal & River Trust, The Landmark Trust and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. These organisations share Peak’s vision for bringing artists, sites and audiences together. Peak/Copa is an Arts Alive Wales initiative.
www.peakart.org.uk  

Cardiff Contemporary is a citywide festival of contemporary arts, showcasing a programme of exhibitions, events and activities over five weeks.  20 October – 19 November.
www.cardiffcontemporary.co.uk

Limelight is part of the Canal & River Trust 2016 Arts on the Waterways programme. The programme offers time and space to artists, producers and curators to make new work and engage new audiences for both the waterways and the arts.
www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

Peak is one of five projects currently supported by the Digital Innovation Fund for the Arts in Wales, a strategic partnership between Arts Council of Wales and Nesta. The partnership is helping arts organisations in Wales to experiment with digital technology as a tool to reach new audiences. Peak is working in collaboration with BBC Cymru Wales to research the use of live-streaming digital technology in site-specific locations in the Brecon Beacons National Park.
www.innovation.arts.wales

Established in 1995, Ty-Mawr Lime Ltd has made an enormous contribution to resurrecting the use of traditional building materials.  Ty-Mawr has gone on to become a market leader in the design, manufacture and distribution of environmentally-friendly building materials and systems, providing a ‘one-stop’ shop for its customers and clients across the UK.
www.lime.org.uk

CONTACT

For more information contact: Rebecca Spooner, Creative Director
rebecca@artsalivewales.org.uk / 01873 811579

(photo credits: Jon Pountney & Toril Brancher) 

Defining the Margins

AR YR YMYLON / ON THE EDGE
National Eisteddfod 2016

 

On The Edge, Peak’s fringe programme of cultural talks from border land, celebrated the National Eisteddfod of Wales in the county of Monmouthshire and involved over 150 people across 7 days (30 July – 5th August) of events that considered the artists and writers of the Black Mountains. The talks took place in the intimate surroundings of The Cabin of Curiosities, an antiques and collectables shop in the heart of Abergavenny, a short walk from the Eisteddfod Maes.

From the comments book:

‘Fascinating and very lively!’
‘Very interesting – especially the cross discipline aspect.’ 
‘Thank you so much for organising this cornucopia of events. Diolch.’ 
‘Inspired me to pick up my camera.’
‘Borders are a state of mind rather than a physical reality. Very thought-provoking.’ 
‘Highlights the valuable cultural life of the region.’ 

(Images from Paul Cabut’s talk about photography in Newport.
Photo credit: Toril Brancher)

 

Five writers – Emma Geliot, Rhys Trimble, clare e. potter, Cari Barley & Siôn Aled Owen – respond to each day of On The Edge.

 

05 / 08  y ffotograffydd Paul Cabuts yn trafod dylanwad ffotograffiaeth ar Goleg Celf Casnewydd

05 / 08 photographer Paul Cabuts discusses the influence of photography at Newport College of Art

——————

Pe meddwn dalent plentyn
i weld llais a chlywed llun …

so wrote Gerallt Lloyd Owen in 1974 about the way a child can see a voice and hear a picture. And as Paul Cabuts took us through some of the ways he has used and developed the craft of ffotograffydd – photographer, I too began to wander back and forth along that tingling border between the visual and the verbal, rhwng y gair a’r darlun.

Ac wrth iddo ddweud ei stori, a sôn am ffotograffau’n adrodd stori, mi welais innau stori. And as he shared his own story and spoke of photographs telling their story, I saw a story.

Saethiad lleoli – establishing shot

Dau ddyn ar stryd y Fenni
yn rhannu sgwrs funud

Two men in an Abergavenny street
sharing a minute’s chat
Gadael y camera i mewn i fywydau pobl
Letting the camera into people’s lives

A minnau’n aros yn ddig’wilydd wylio a gwrando
fel petawn yn anweledig saff

And I stopped, unashamed to watch and listen
as if safely invisible

 

Saethiad portread – portrait shot

And they were all coming out down there
and they were all saying shw mae

Yea? What’s that?

Hello. Something like that. And me, I started saying shw mae back

Ok, were they?

Oh, yea. That’s how they talk all the time, I s’ppose

S’ppose so. Yea

Nice though, in a way

 

Saethiad anffurfiol – Informal shot

Wynebau, bywydau’n rhyw betrus groesawu’r tresmaswyr iaith, o Gymru arall

Two faces, two lives, welcoming, somehow, these linguistic trespassers, from another Wales

 

A throais, wedi lladrata rhyw foment fach o fywyd dau,
a gwasgu’n fwyfwy Eisteddfotaidd tua’r Maes
heb wybod pa Gymru sa i mi’n well cynefin

And I turned, after thieving a moment from two lives,
to join the faithful funnelling towards the Maes
a little confused about where, which Wales I want to be
Paul talked of his tutor tearing two of his early photos in half and putting them together – “That’s what you want.”  Maybe that’s the photo I feel I have to make as well, of y Fenni and Abergavenny, the Maes and the gossiping street, Cymru and Wales.

Siôn Aled Owen

——————

04 / 08 yr awdur, cynhyrchydd a chyflwynydd, Jon Gower yn trafod gwaith Raymond Williams
04 / 08 writer, producer and presenter Jon Gower discusses the work of Raymond Williams

 

By Measuring the Distance

‘The only landscape I see in dreams is the Black Mountain village in which I was born.’ – Raymond Williams

If anything has the spiritual uplift of Sufi singing [1], it is Jon Gower’s offering; his words swell and swarm and settle in the cabin where curious minds have come to learn of path-treading, love of land, and how extraordinary things happen when idea-sharing. I think of my inner landscape, the women who gather behind me, an endless thread—and my father who walks and understands what is meant by measuring distance and coming home.

I

You are Sarah of Annie with the 18 inch waist

who once threw a stale bread at the vicar,

raven-haired Sarah with the malachite eyes

who does not yet know how histories of hangings

and beatings line up with their collective nudge

to be heard in the DNA of you;

not Sarah of Welsh spoken

and Eisteddfod winning uncles, or political picnic speakers,

or of dry stone wallers, or the county’s best sheepdog breeder,

 

but Sarah of, Sarah of, Sarah of

with no idea why your neck hurts

and your temper burns and why you always break into song at night.

 

The only landscape you’ll see in dreams is the undulating black heaps

which seep their way in and cover you, smother you.

 

II

In the dayroom by the window, a town away, a time away,

The prettiest meadow I ever saw was on an old coal tip,

she keeps repeating

the meadow I saw,      the pretty of it,           the old coal I saw,

how pretty I was,        the old cold sore tip,    the coal

all over the meadow    spoiling pretty.           In her dreams

 

there are no oxeyes, yarrow, campion, no grasses

sending patterns of shivers at her feet. In her dreams

she hears her father speak over the spitting liver, she

fears the belt coming off and her back braces for its slap.

 

III

A dyna chi, fy nhad i, yn hapus gyda’ch milltir sgwâr,

yn fodlon teithio’n ddwfn yn lle yn llydan.

Dim angen i chi freuddwydio am eich tirwedd,

chi sy’n symud ar hyd ei chromliniau,

yn grwydro’r hen lwybrau claddu,

bob cam yn dod â chi’n agos at eich mam chi.

 

A’r bwys y giât mochyn, er ebychynod,

tra mae’r barcud coch yn gleidio dros eich tafod.

Yn eich cerdded ac ystyried, mae’r gorffenol

yn cwrdd â’r presennol, ac yr ydych chi

wedi mesur pob cam dwyfol

gyda chyffwrdd uniongyrchol.

 

Translation:

Here you are, my dear father, content

with your square mile, content

to travel deep, not wide.

No need to dream your landscape:

in daylight you move along its curves

wandering the old burial path, each step

brings you closer to your mother.

 

By the kissing gate, the gasp

as the red kite revisits the sky.

 

Through your walking and pausing, the past

meets the present, and you have measured

each divine step, with a true touch.

clare e. potter

(‘Travel deeper rather than wider’ in reference to an interview with artist Frank Auerbach on Front Row, Radio 4)

[1] Jon Gower

——————

03 / 08 yr awduron Christopher Meredith a Tom Bullough yn archwilio ffiniau a chyrion mewn llenyddiaeth
03 / 08 writers Christopher Meredith & Tom Bullough examine borders and peripheries in literature

 

The First Duty of the Artist is to be Free
– Raymond Williams

This has been a difficult task, responding creatively to a reading of works that were poignant enough. Chris Meredith and Tom Bullough shared their process of writing poems, and a novel, addressing, thematically, how each was inspired by, influenced by, conscious of knowing the land, heartland, headland, addland, Y Gororau, yr ymylon, y ffiniau, it’s people, it’s language; the process by which over time those slip away, unless . . .

Stuck.

I’ve not been able to articulate anything. I suspected this would happen the moment the audience in the Cabin of Trugareddau, clapped, bought books, hesitated to leave.

Trugareddau: ‘mercies,’ ‘odds and ends’, not quite curiosities: ‘chwilfrydeddau’, the things we are looking for. When seeking an exact word, sometimes an unexpected, unknown word arrives as a gift . . . .

In the garden, afterwards, a juvenile song thrush with scrawny feathers beat its wings less than a foot away from my table (            ). I watched it hover. Felt the rhythmical wafts of air, heard the inexpressible sound of its pause-in-flight. That took energy, bravery. This little one wanted crumbs, briwsion (fragments) from my plate. Or did it? I have never before encountered a non-captive bird so . . . intimately. Was I breathing? Our eyes conversed and immediately, there was no bird-self, or me(?)-self, no teagarden, teacup, no pressure to respond; it was the infinite moment between moments.

At home, tongue-tied, bound to distraction, I read The Hill of Dreams:

I had a horrible todo with my sentences . . . [They were] a mass of erasures,
corrections, interlineations . . . I was to start afresh, then, to get a style of my own . . .[1]

 

I saw my task clearly; not to capture what was said by two fine writers firmly established in the literary canon. My words, their words, no match. I knew I must be true, in my plain clothes, to my own tongue, to where my mind went as they spoke. It’s no insult to them, there is time enough to re-read their pages and re-immerse in their meanings yn y gogoniant o’u eiriau.

 

 

Return Journey

 

We’ve slow-trekked the edge, seeking

the rocking stone where you played. He’s warned us

of fissures, heather-hidden, some 30 foot deep,

which run through this hill’s heart.

He says it’s the natural movement and splitting

of rock, the land still going through its process,

that maybe it has enough of what it is and breaks

away from itself

(and all its definitions).

Did you fear them?

 

At the spot where we overlook your valley, I open the box

hurl you at last to the vast grey. But you swirl

with the wind’s gust which sends each grain of you

into my eyes and mouth so I’m blind

and crunching bone-grit between teeth;

 

all your joy coming back to me.

clare e. potter

[1] Arthur Machen

——————

02 / 08 yr artist a churadur Anthony Shapland yn sgwrsio ag enillydd Medal Aur Celfyddyd Gain yr Eisteddfod
02 / 08 artist and curator Anthony Shapland in conversation with Eisteddfod Gold Medal Winner for Fine Art

 

Anthony Shapland is an artist who works with moving image, while Richard Bevan, the winner of this year’s Eisteddfod Gold Medal for Fine Art, is more sharply defined as an artist film–maker, working specifically with 16mm film, which has often been made in direct response to a particular location.

Bevan, from Maesteg, completed a BA in Fine Art at Cardiff School of Art & Design, where he was based in the Printmaking department, where he had the freedom to begin his investigations into filmmaking. This continued during his MA at The Slade and he now lives in London. One of his first exhibitions was at g39, the artist-led gallery in Cardiff, of which Shapland is a founding co-director.

For that show, Richard Bevan (the artist doesn’t like titles), in the gallery’s original home in Mill Lane, he filmed the window frames and surrounding woodwork in the original baby blue. They were then painted black. The film was projected, upside down, onto the wall inside the gallery, a topsy-turvy echo of the view through the gallery window. He also filmed a hidden Victorian spiral staircase within the g39 building, having first painted the steps in the colours of the rainbow, and this was projected upstairs in the gallery.

Bevan doesn’t like interpretive texts or press releases, wanting his audience to work at what they are looking at. For the g39 show he produced a series of publications, each in a rainbow colour containing texts and responses by other artists to his work.

Understanding the framework that Bevan creates for the ways in which his work is seen is crucial. He won’t submit films for show reels and he rarely shows his work in a screening environment. His work is intended to be seen in a particular way and his four films at Y Lle Celf underline the dynamic between the projector, the projected image (“light and shadows” as Bevan describes it) and the viewer. This is the first time he has shown so many works together – three in one space, one in its own room. Bevan is clear that although 16mm film is expensive and time-consuming there is a physical quality to it that can’t be replicated digitally.

Knowing what the subject matter is isn’t important – Bevan doesn’t talk about his intentions. The films are loops, sometimes very short but with each loop something new emerges. There is little action, tiny shifts or small gestures, which intensify with meaning after each loop.

Shuntaro Tanikawa’s poem, A Personal Opinion About Grey, is a touchstone for Bevan, talking as it does about white and black and how one becomes the other. He says, “ I’ve had criticism for relying on the beauty of the image. The beauty comes from the aesthetic beauty of film and light”. Shapland adds, “There’s a seduction, like stained glass is seductive [because] it’s light”.

Emma Geliot

——————

01 / 08 artistiaid preswyl Llwyn Celyn, Jamie Lake a Toril Brancher yn cyflwyno’u hymatebion creadigol
01 / 08 artists in residence at Llwyn Celyn, Jamie Lake & Toril Brancher present their creative responses

 

Rain pattered on the corrugated roof, birdsong suddenly erupting from the garden surrounding the Cabin of Curiosities, the antiques standing as silent sentinels to the human crowd gathered safe from the Welsh weather.  Tyner were the speakers and listeners that day, as Llwyn Celyn’s memories, inspirations and dreams swelled in that small space.

Light and darkness. Lake took his audience on a walk through his images of Llwyn Celyn.  He placed golau in the fractures of the buildings’ walls, and shone light through time, the disintegration of man’s creation.  The still buildings, we saw, were no longer llonyddwch, but walls were yawning away from each other, moving outwards to llithro down the gradient of the valley.  The eiliad llonydd was a myriad of movement, caught in the periphery.

Gall y glaswellt cofio?  Could the grass remember when the farm was hustle and bustle, the medieval hall filled with roaring people?  Brancher brought our focus to the plants of the area and what they had known and seen of people’s histories at Llwyn Celyn: we saw the sloes in the hedges, the elderflower that people of the past had perhaps mixed with honey, the llwyni that housed a plethora of plants.  She took us inside the farmhouse and we saw the floral wallpaper blistering in the awel from the fractured walls, yn hel atgofion of families fighting against the tide of time and elements.  We saw the medieval sedd where many had rested, a bridge between the generations of people who had lived there.  The windows and their curtains gave us views over the valley, the Welsh mountains with their woodland, the defaid in their caeau.  All those who had woken each morning and peered at the tywydd – was it the day to cut the hay?

Then we were returned to the Cabin of Curiosities, the promise of the Landmark Trust to conserve this history, this Welsh landmark.   We saw the photographs of high fences, diggers and trenches healing the tired walls, patching the fractured surfaces, teasing the nant that loves to run through the house to play away once again.

Tyner – tender
Golau – light
Llonyddwch – stillness
Llithro – slide
Eiliad llonydd – still moment
Llwyni – hedges
Awel – breeze
yn hel atgofion – collecting memories
sedd – seat
defaid – sheep
caeau – fields
tywydd – weather
nant – stream

Cari Barley 

——————

31 / 07  y cyd-artistiaid Penny Hallas a Caroline Wright yn arwain taith gerdded amgen drwy’r Fenni
31 / 07  collaborative artists Penny Hallas & Caroline Wright lead an alternative walk through Abergavenny

 

EXILE OBJECTISM BLUES

TRUGAREDDAU’R ALLTDION GLEISION

 

entrope blue symbolism in art raw west

is left of that blue dress mark

of a boundary animal schematic of duration

 

Trugareddau is chattel. In this walk arranged by a binocule of artists Penny Hallas and Caroline Wright’s guided walk

 

urine ego bad ways trust brass space rehoused

dereliction edging        glaucous

promotion & religiose  (yr angel)

 

Here we are invited to walk around small details, the personal, everything is Blue I’m reminded of the three-colours documentary on BBC 4

 

invited disturbance barracks lath &

plastered migration interior wilt soil powder

frequency is penniless

 

I cut every line from the air and reposition and curate it, much as items are arranged in the cabin of curiosities

 

eight three access elite hubris wound

complete insect eye becoming context bury

remembering in sum’r a book of adjectives

 

Things are dexterously placed by Lyndon about town. Boundaries abound. Welsh is outside us and inside

 

ci glas elastration reminder circle grave

middle blueness status transgression sheeptrod

commode coupling androgenise blue

 

Dwi’n cynnig y geiriau canlynol: Trugareddau (Trugaredd) Alltud (Exile) Bregus (Brittle)

 

cyd-destun claddu cofio

mewn ha’ gerdd o waddol

fregus trwy dant glas

 

cylch medd wrth ymyl

meddyliol cerdded penglog

ochrog yr un llinell canol duwch *

 

Caroline knows the ordinal position of every object via an ap

 

Y Skirrid – drawing binary googlewalking

radial tinting outside of route

compatability of relics positioning

 

The feminine psychogeography is suggested by Rebecca, more lineated, shared, discursive, focused, attuned

 

show flatlands testbed constrained in approval

glas venturing talisman blubaby barrier

mynydd flipside dwyfol ego

 

We all bring our own wounds and pieces, they sit in space as stanza’s are rooms and poems are

 

afar urine resilience yellow separation

walking placed foetal attributed

bias in truism remit scrotum used in bind

 

Collaborative voices wing the narrative to edge the parking space in chalk and later Skirrid soil ritual

 

plastic hand on our landscape cycle beam feminine name

alley for trash               girders automobile gaps

who composed herself conglomerate rivers

 

I point out that “human hand on our landscape” is cynghanedd lusg as I look at a little plastic hand

 

superheating dead verbiage eruption jenever quotidian

number nerves ego       flesh secret moaning

stutters feminine with teardrops adroit of

 

A brass band strikes up and is carried up on thermals to were we stand near to a sheep’s scrotum

 

infork line binary flock of emission dreams

interregnum riffing on cell death into untitled

his cant audeation

 

Later I am stuck on Abergavenny train station for two hours, I get into an adventure – they make a special announcement for me on the train “will the owner of the bicycle be advised it is blocking the signal-gate and will be removed”

 

indigenous artery whittling grazing rites

basal spectra infrastasis navi(gagors

convoluting breath                              blues.

Rhys Trimble 

——————

30 /07  yr artist preswyl Rebecca Chesney a’r daearegwr Alan Bowring yn trafod celf a’r amgylchedd
30 / artist in residence Rebecca Chesney & geologist Alan Bowring discuss art and environment

 

Rebecca Chesney was the first Peak artist in residence for the Black Mountains in partnership with the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, where Chesney had met Alan Bowring, one of the National Park’s geologists. Bowring provided rich material for her research into the area, which in turn informed Snapshot, the colour chart that she produced at the end of her residency.

While Chesney responded to the colours and visual stimuli above ground, Bowring’s insights produced an alternative understanding of how the local topography had formed. Their conversation covered an enormous amount of ground in two hours.

Bowring talked of his love affair with red sandstone rocks and the stories they reveal. He described the formation of the South Wales coalfields, created by a fold in the rocks which forced coal into seams, transforming the South Wales landscape forever. Had this geological event not occurred the Brecon Beacons National Park would have covered a much greater area, there would have been no dense settlement of the Valleys and the history and culture of Wales would have been dramatically different.

Chesney’s residency was an antidote to the over romanticising of landscape. Snapshot offers a realistic palette of land use, from Bale Wrap Green to Cagoule, – referencing all the walkers on the mountains, She – a bright pink that is one of the limited colour choices for women walkers’ weather wear, and to Shot Fox and Dog’s Breath. In Early January Celandine, Chesney also notes the effects of climate change on local flora.

The language we use to talk about our environment is often revealing and as a fringe event for the biggest celebration of Welsh language culture of the year, it’s worth introducing some Welsh words to encapsulate the two-hour conversation.

Y Byd – the world. Bowring described the journey of the current British landmass as it broke away from Pangaea and the reconnection with Scotland as over millennia rock pressed against rock to force up a mountain range.

Y Ddaear – the Earth, the product of heat and shifts far beneath our feet while we live on the surface.

Creigiau – rocks. Moving repositories of minerals and the earth’s history.

Cerrig – stones. As big as monuments or palm-sized episodes.

Hanes – history but also story.

Llên gwerin – Folklore. The stories to explain what is not understood.

Y Tir  – the land. A more prosaic description of location, often subjective.

Y Milltir Sgwâr  – the square mile. Our personal terrain.

Yr Amgylchedd  – the environment. Reaching beyond territory and connecting/affecting everyone.

Y Bobl  – the people. Our time is being called ‘The Anthropocene’, it is now humans that are shaping the world far more radically than geological events.

Plastig  – plastic. The audience asked how we would be remembered. Would our geological layer be defined by plastic? Would future civilisations create explanatory myths around our fetishisation of the dog excrement sealed in plastic bags?

Amlddisgyblaethol  – multidisciplinary. Fossilised excrement is called ‘coprolite’ and brings together two ‘-ologies’, geology and anthropology. As the talk wound to a close it was clear that different specialists are more collaborative than we might think.

Emma Geliot

——————