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)
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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.