Horsebox Studio Commission Peak/Copa & Abergavenny Food Festival
August – September
Festival Weekend 16th & 17th September 2017
The Horsebox Studio Commission is a partnership project between Peak/Copa and the Abergavenny Food Festival. We are seeking a professional, Wales-based visual or applied artist of any discipline, to respond to the distinctive region of the Black Mountains and to the themes of the festival to produce new work in collaboration with the public, which will be created and presented in Peak’s Horsebox Studio on site during the festival weekend (16th and 17th September 2017).
Themes: growing, cooking, agriculture, sustainability, food culture, the politics and economics of food production, individual and collective memories of food, markets, small holdings
The artist must be available during the preparation and delivery of the festival weekend (16th and 17th September).
The artist is expected to spend a minimum of 8 days working on the research, preparation, delivery and evaluation of the commission (at least 4 days to be located in Abergavenny).
The deadline for applications is 10am, Wednesday 19th July 2017.
Peak/Copa is an initiative devised and delivered by Arts Alive Wales, an arts education charity based in Crickhowell, Powys. Peak creates opportunities for contemporary art in the Black Mountains and Welsh Borders for the benefit of the region’s artists, communities and visitors.
CYFLE I ARTISTIAID:
Comisiwn Stiwdio Fan Geffyl Peak/Copa a Gŵyl Fwyd Y Fenni
Gorffennaf – Medi.
Penwythnos yr Ŵyl 16 ac 17 Medi 2017
Mae Comisiwn Stiwdio Fan Geffyl yn brosiect partneriaeth rhwng Peak/Copa a Gŵyl Fwyd y Fenni. Rydym yn chwilio am artist gweledol neu gymhwysol proffesiynol o unrhyw ddisgyblaeth sydd wedi ei leoli yng Nghymru, i ymateb i ardal nodedig y Mynydd Du ac i themâu’r ŵyl gan gynhyrchu gwaith newydd mewn cydweithrediad â’r cyhoedd, a fydd yn cael ei greu a’i gyflwyno yn Stiwdio Fan Geffyl Peak ar y safle yn ystod penwythnos yr ŵyl (16 ac 17 Medi 2017).
Themâu : tyfu, coginio, amaethyddiaeth, cynaliadwyedd, diwylliant bwyd, gwleidyddiaeth ac economeg cynhyrchu bwyd, atgofion unigol a chyfunol am fwyd, marchnadoedd, tyddynnod
Rhaid i’r artist fod ar gael yn ystod paratoi a gweinyddu penwythnos yr ŵyl (16 ac 17 Medi). Disgwylir i’r artist dreulio o leiaf 8 diwrnod gwaith yn gweithio ar yr ymchwil, paratoi, cyflenwi a gwerthuso’r comisiwn (o leiaf 4 dydd i’w leoli yn y Fenni).
Y dyddiad cau am ymgeisio yw 10am, dydd Mercher 19 Gorffennaf 2017.
Menter yw Peak/Copa a ddyfeisiwyd ac a gyflenwir gan Arts Alive Wales, elusen addysgol gelfyddydol a leolir yng Nghrucywel, Powys. Mae Copa yn creu cyfleoedd am gelf gyfoes yn y Mynydd Du ac ar y ffin er budd artistiaid a chymunedau’r ardal a’r ymwelwyr â hi.
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.
Cushioned by soil and surrounded by leaf litter and new growth, Woodland by artist duo French & Mottershead is a meditative and deeply affecting audio work that creates a self-portrait of the body after death. Using spoken narrative with insights from forensic anthropologists and ecologists, Woodland is a gentle confrontation of mortality and an invitation to imagine our body’s return to the earth over an epic length of time.
Friday 26th– Monday 29th May, 10:30am – 4:30pm
Special event: Saturday 27th May with an artist talk at 7pm
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 2015 Sarah Rhys
Allah Chemia 2016 Sarah Rhys
Ritual Archaeology 2015 Sarah Rhys
Miniature Landscape 2016 Sarah Rhys
Violinist at Coal Tree 2015 Photocredit Frank Menger
Palleg Unearthed 2015 Sarah Rhys
‘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.’
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.
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.’
David Moore amongst an attentive audience
David Hurn & Penny Hallas
David Hurn, Peter Wakelin, Paul Cabuts, Justine Wheatley
David Hurn & Peter Wakelin
(Images from Paul Cabut’s talk about photography in Newport.
Photo credit: Toril Brancher)
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 , 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 . . .
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 . . .
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.
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
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”.
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.
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
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.
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.
04/ yr awdur, cynhyrchydd a chyflwynydd, Jon Gower yn trafod gwaith Raymond Williams
05/ y ffotograffydd Paul Cabuts yn trafod dylanwad ffotograffiaeth ar Goleg Celf Casnewydd
+ Gwener 29 Gorffennaf 6:30-9pm Jeff Nuttall: Yn sydyn iawn Mae dy Wên yn Bensaernïaeth
Achlysur agoriad yr arddangosfa yn cynnwys barddoniaeth a chyhoeddiadau Jeff Nuttall Broadleaf Books, 16 Monk Street, Y Fenni, NP7 5NP
Arddangosfa’n parhau tan Sadwrn 30 Gorffennaf- Sadwrn 6 Awst, 10am-5pm
Cynhyrchwyd gan Melissa Appleton a Joanna Chambers
Ymddiheurwn nad oes mynediad llawn i’r anabl yng nghaban y Cabin of Curiosities. Cysylltwch â: email@example.com / 01873 811579 i drafod gofynion mynediad.
ON THE EDGE a fringe programme of cultural talks from border land
04 / writer, producer and presenter Jon Gower discusses the work of Raymond Williams
05 / photographer Paul Cabuts discusses the influence of photography at Newport College of Art
+ Friday 29th July 6:30-9pm Jeff Nuttall: Quite Suddenly Your Smile Is An Architecture
Exhibition opening event featuring the poetry and publishings of Jeff Nuttall Broadleaf Books, 16 Monk Street, Abergavenny, NP7 5NP
Exhibition continues Sat 30th July- Sat 6th Aug, 10am-5pm
Produced by Melissa Appleton and Joanna Chambers
We regret that the Cabin of Curiosities does not have full disability access. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / 01873 811579 to discuss access requirements.
As the sky began to darken and the wind picked up Lisa, Lawrence, Caroline and Rob arrived at Net House, a red brick cottage poised on the banks of the river Wye, between Hay and Clyro, surrounded by luminous fields of oilseed rape.
Net House is an eccentric and wonderful place; it was disconcerting to see the river’s fast flowing water from every window. The house is a warren of vintage fabrics, family photos, paintings and mismatched china. The artists instantly relaxed in this charming setting and although it was the first time we had all met together everyone hit it off, helped along with plenty of red wine and beef chili.
Around the kitchen table conversation touched on the dramatic difference in the landscapes we inhabit, the lack of younger artists living and working in rural areas, the benefits of a studio on a shared site, the Expanded Studios Project (initiated by the studio artists at Wysing and Primary in Nottingham) and unexpected shared friends and connections.
After dinner we lolled about on the sofas in the cosy living room in front of a roaring fire. Penny had bought along her new digital projector (purchased with support from the Creative Network mini-fund) and we shifted a painting off the wall for presentations from each of the visiting artists.
Click on the artist names for more information about their work:
We met the next morning at the Arts Alive Wales studio for coffee and flapjacks to fuel a trek to Llangattock Escarpment. We were joined by artist Richard Harris, artist photographer Toril Brancher, Gavin Johnson a freelance consultant who has assisted PEAK and Gavin’s partner Lisa Meredith. We downed another coffee while we waited for a heavy shower to pass then donned our anoraks and headed to the escarpment in convoy.
With Penny leading the way we walked along the footpath to the Craig y Cilau nature reserve. Crossing stepping-stones and squelching through wet vegetation we passed through the bog, Waun Ddu. There was some excitement as Stefhan pointed out the Common Sundew, a rare carnivorous plant at the edge of a shallow stream.
We ascended the old sheep tracks, surrounded by tiny violets and primroses and broke the cover of the trees for perfectly clear views from east to west, taking in the Sugar Loaf, Table Mountain, the Darren and Cat’s Back. We made our way along the tramway ridge to Eglwys Faen cave, one of the largest cave networks in Europe. We tested each other’s metal with gruesome tales of being buried alive and unearthly presences.
We reached the mouth of the cave and descended to the subterranean landscape. I first visited the cave in 2011 for Frederick J Fredericks, an event devised by local artists and poets which presented installations, performances, readings and improvised music in and around the cave as part of Powys Arts Month. At that time I had an uncharacteristically feeble reaction to entering the cave; I instinctively and emphatically did not want to venture into the dark, wet and cold. This time I was more prepared but I could not summon up the enthusiasm of our Wysing friends who bounced into the cave like puppies to venture as far as they could before being called back.
Stefhan shared his emergency packet of custard creams and Penny found a level spot to set up the digital projector. Each of the Black Mountains artists showed short film clips.
Sarah presented a film from an international artist project, Al Mutanabbi Street Inventory, in which hands slowly turned the pages of a burnt book. The film had a strange 3D effect against the uneven surface of the rocks. Rob mentioned Werner Herzog’s film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams; when illuminated by candlelight prehistoric drawings of wild horses would appear to gallop over the surface of the rock.
Stefhan showed archive footage of the Ebbw Vale steel works from the early 1900s; chimneys spewed steam and smoke and tiny figures battled against the filth and flames. In contrast he also showed a film created with 3D mapping data from NASA recording the surface of the moon. Stefhan made a connection with the archive footage of Ebbw Vale, which triggered his memory of Georges Méliès silent film A Trip to the Moon (1902) and the blurring of imagery between early science-fiction and documentary.
Penny screened footage taken from the window of a moving car driving past never ending road works, traffic cones and orange safety nets along the A465 Heads of the Valleys road. Eglwys Faen cave is part of the limestone quarry that served the industrial furnaces of Ebbw Vale and is one point within a network of historic tramways, railways, canals and pathways that link the Black Mountains with the Valleys. The film reminded us of those links which were perhaps more direct in the past than they are today.
After the films, boys and girls were allowed fifteen minutes to play in the cave. I’d had enough and picked my way through the rocks to emerge blissfully into daylight and clean air.
We returned to the studio for lunch and presentations from Stefhan, Penny and Sarah. It was evident that the landscape and people of this region are integral to the artists’ work. What is sometimes mistaken as insularity was perceived as a strength by the visiting artists. Each artist had a genuine connection to place in which they travelled deeper rather than wider – there is something universal in that approach to the local or regional.
Sunday 10th May 2015
Sunday morning we were joined by artist Justine Cook and Project Assistant Emma Balch for coffee and cake at the home and studio of Richard Harris and Sally Matthews in Rhosgoch. We gathered in the self-built warehouse surrounded by Sally’s magnificent menagerie of animal sculpture.
As we eyed the wolves and stags we had conversations about the lack of studio space and visual arts community in Cambridge. It seems Wysing is the only organisation of its kind in the region. We also touched on the problems that affect the majority of artists (wherever they’re based), balancing artistic work with paid employment, caring responsibilities and the need to continually apply for opportunities.
The household’s three dogs were a welcome distraction from too much art talk. An informative conversation about the ear care of spaniels will always bring you back to earth. We said goodbye to Richard and Sally and sent four happy but tired artists on their five-hour journey back to Cambridgeshire.
For me, the weekend highlighted our lack of access to artists outside of the Black Mountains, let alone outside of Wales. The visit demonstrated the importance of meeting in person to share experience, generate ideas and articulate practice.
The weekend reaffirmed the unique perspective of the artists we work with in this region. A genuine connection to place and people (past and present) is often central to their work. The visiting artists were responsive to the distinct qualities of our location and the attractive proposition it offers to artists outside Wales as a site for making new work.
We hope to arrange a reciprocal artist visit to Wysing Arts Centre later in the year. It’s so important for artists in Wales to build connections elsewhere. Sometimes you need validation outside your immediate circle to remind you that you’re on the right track.