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Arts Community Film Outcomes

Animating Schools ‘The Tales Between Us’

Community

Animating Schools ‘The Tales Between Us’

Animating Schools was an Ancient Connections project led by Cardiff-based animation company Winding Snake. The project commenced in 2020 and brought together three schools: Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi in St Davids, Pembrokeshire, Scoil Naomh Maodhog and St Edan’s School, both in Ferns, County Wexford; to create a tri-lingual, cross-border animation piece entitled “The Tales Between Us”.

‘The Tales Between Us’ – English version:

‘The Tales Between Us’ – Gaelic version:

‘The Tales Between Us’ – Welsh version:

Children at these schools engaged in a programme of exchange visits and workshops in storytelling, script writing, puppet making and animation. The children were at the heart of this project, making choices about which stories to tell and how to tell them all the way along.

Watch the ‘Making Of’ film:

Many talented specialists from Ireland and Wales were involved in mentoring the children such as storytellers Joe Brennan, Lorraine O’Dwyer and Daniel Morden and Deb Winter, artist David Begley, writers Sylvia Cullen and Nigel Crowle and puppet makers Ann Shrosbree and Bill Hamblett from Small World Theatre. Music is by BAFTA Cymru winning composers Tic Ashfield and Benjamin Talbott with voice over by Sara Gregory and Róisín Murphy.

 

One pupil said of the project, “I really enjoyed the animation [project] because I had the chance to make new friends from Ireland and I also learnt some history about the local area.”

The film highlights tall tales and local legends that link the two regions; saints, sea beasts, banshees, mermaids, selkies and witches all feature in the film. We find out why no one ever goes fishing on St Martin’s Day, 11th November in Wexford and what happened to the mythical land of Cantre’r Gwaelod.

 

Glen Biseker of Winding Snake said, “There are a lot of stories and a rich history between the two regions, but finding the right parts from the [pilgrim] trail was a priority and a big undertaking. With the help of storytellers and writers we unearthed some great stories. The participant’s interpretation of those stories, through the production process, gives it a real identity.”

Ruth Jones, Project Officer for Ancient Connections said, “It has been wonderful to see this project develop over the last eighteen months. We’ve seen friendships flourish as well as a deeper understanding of the importance of knowing our stories and being able to share them. Winding Snake have given the young people involved such an incredible insight into animation filmmaking, and they have also learnt new skills from many other creative professionals. We hope that it’s an experience that they will remember all their lives and might even inspire some of them to take up creative careers.”

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Arts Community Film Outcomes Pilgrimage

Pilgrim Fayre

Community

Pilgrim Fayre

Ancient Connections, held a spectacular outdoor community event in St Davids Bishop’s Palace on Monday 29 May supported by local communities, artists, traders, visitors and project partners. The sun shone and over 4000 people enjoyed the lively occasion.

Highlights of the day included guided walks with Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way and St Davids Cathedral, a beautiful choir concert and performance by Span Arts and members of Côr Pawb, and demonstrations by the Tywi Centre’s master builders and makers.

Cardigan-based festival organisers and performers Small World Theatre, also created a spectacular Pilgrim Parade with pupils from Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi. Their two giant puppets of Saint David and a sea monster led a crowd through the town and into the heart of the festivities.

Film documenting the day’s activities:

“It was a sight to behold!” said Ancient Connections project manager Rowan Matthiessen. “We’ve been so fortunate to work with amazing Welsh & Irish artists, volunteers, partnering organisations and community groups throughout the 3-year project. Over 12,000 volunteer hours have contributed to making the project a success.”

 

Siobhan McGovern, Co-project manager continued, “The Pilgrim Fayre was a genuine celebration showcasing some of the finest talent, produce and crafts produced in West Wales. We wish to thank St Davids Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace for supporting and hosting us, and everyone who took part and joined us.”

 

Cllr Thomas Tudor, Chair of Pembrokeshire County Council, who was at the event to greet delegates over from Ireland said, “We were delighted to welcome our Irish colleagues and friends to an event that truly represented the creative collaborations this project has achieved.”

 

Click here for more info on the event as well as similar events in the area.

Categories
Arts Community Film Outcomes

Festival of Ferns

Community

Festival of Ferns

The Festival of Ferns was a community festival, led by Wexford based events company Lantern. The festival celebrated Ferns’ unique heritage as the site of St Aidan’s monastery, ancient capital of Leinster, seat of Diarmuid Macmurrough, the Gaelic king who is said to be responsible for the Noman invasion of Ireland.

During April and May 2023, Lanterns artist Caoimhe Dunn worked with schools and community groups to create beautiful puppets and costumes for the parade. She coordinated 12 fantastic workshops which had over 300 local participants.

The festival itself took place in Ferns on the bank holiday weekend of June 4th and 5th 2023. The Sunday had a music trail around the pubs in Ferns with over 15 bands playing throughout the day and night and a beautiful concert in St Edans Cathedral by traditional singer-songwriter Melanie O’Reilly.

Monday’s festival was launched by a parade from the cathedral to Ferns Castle with 85 participants from various local groups. The event continued with a festival in the castle grounds and performances from local musicians, choirs, dancers and medieval jousting from the Horse Men of Eire. The event was attended by around 2500 people from the local area.

The event could not have happened without the contributions of:

  • Fearna Mens Shed
  • Ferns Comhaltas
  • Helena Dunbar’s School of Music
  • Deirdre Furlong’s School of Irish Dance
  • Edan’s National School & Scoil Naomh Maodhóg
  • Ferns Community Development Association
  • Ferns Heritage Project
  • Ferns Medieval Experience
  • Small World Theatre
  • Enniscorthy Historical Re-enactment Society
  • Chord on Blues Choir

In addition we would like to thank Small World Theatre for bringing their giant Dewi Sant puppet over from Wales to join the parade.

The community of Ferns hope to fundraise in order to make the festival an annual or bi-annual event.

 

Categories
Arts Outcomes

Holy Wells of Wexford and Pembrokeshire Chapbooks

History

Holy Wells of Wexford and Pembrokeshire Chapbooks

A reliable and clean source of water is essential for any community, so it is easy to understand how important wells were for pre-modern peoples. More complex is the mystical relationship humans have developed with these sites, which are imbued with a sacredness that predates Christianity.

 

Holy Wells of Wexford and Pembrokeshire is a series of five chapbooks celebrating holy wells in two regions with common ancestry and history. Since at least the Bronze Age, sea travel between these two lands has meant cross-fertilisation of traditions and common names associated with wells of both regions. Of significance is the long-standing friendship between two early Christian saints: David, who became the first Bishop of St Davids; and Aidan, born in Ireland, who spent time in Wales and then founded monasteries in Ireland, including at Ferns. In Oilgate, Wexford, there is a well dedicated to David and, at Whitesands near St Davids in Pembrokeshire, there is one named after Aidan. Each of the five books approaches the subject from different perspectives and mediums, including fiction, poetry and essays as well as photographs and prints.

 

Volume 1: 

The Oldest Music, has been compiled by Phil Cope, a photographer and author based in South Wales who has several published works on the subject of holy wells. It explores and celebrates how holy wells have inspired poets for hundreds of years and includes a selection of old and new poems, in Welsh, English and Irish, including by Lewys Glyn Cothi, Gwynfardd Brycheiniog, Ieuan ap Rhydderch, Angela Graham, Tony Curtis, Grace O’Reilly, Eirwyn George, Dafydd Williams, Julian Cason, Lorraine O’Dwyer, Brian Jackson, Phil Carradice and Phil Cope. The Volume is illustrated by Phil Cope’s compelling photographs.

 

Volume 2:

 The Bright Plain contains two short stories by Michelle Dooley Mahon; ‘The Deacon’ and ‘The Meadow of Women’, in which ritual devotions are placed in contemporary contexts. She writes of illness, suffering, devotion and healing with startling simplicity and a dose of humour. These are not metaphors or coincidences, but real events, requiring neither explanation nor justification. Alongside are toned cyanotype prints by Caitriona Dunnett of St Anne’s well, Lady’s Island and the surrounds of other wells in South Wexford; ethereal, uncanny images that conjure up the past or even the Otherworld, whilst also being here and now.

 

Volume 3:

St Aidan of Ferns is written by Christopher Power, a historian and librarian living in Ferns. He has tracked the story of St Aidan, the founder and first bishop of the diocese of Ferns, through the places named after him, the archaeological remains and the literature that recounts his miraculous works, based on the hagiographies of the early Saints. There are two holy wells dedicated to St Aidan: St Mogue’s Well in Ferns, Co. Wexford and St Maedhog’s well at Whitesands, Pembrokeshire. Additionally, there are a number of churches and cathedrals including St Edan’s Cathedral in Ferns, St Aidan’s Cathedral, Enniscorthy, St Mogue’s at Haroldston West, Pembrokeshire and St Aidan’s Church at Llawhaden, Pembrokeshire. The locations of these sites correspond to Aidan’s life’s journey, in particular the two regions where his impact was most keenly felt: Wexford and Pembrokeshire.

 

Volume 4:

Song of Water, presents two stories set in the time of the early saints by Diana Powell. In ‘Gift’, we are submerged into the birth of St David in a visceral and watery account seen through his mother’s eyes. It is said that Non, a powerful saint in her own right, gave birth to David on a clifftop in a terrible storm. In ‘A Pilgrim’s Wife’, we meet St Gwenonwy ach Meurig, a welsh noblewoman who married St Gwyndaf, an aristocrat and native of Brittany. St Gwyndaf was a contemporary of David and Aidan, and it was a falling out with the latter over a holy well that led to his settling at Llanwnda, at least for a while. Of Gwenonwy, we know very little. Did she embrace this ascetic lifestyle on the bleak and wild coastline of North Pembrokeshire, or did she long for her old life of relative luxury or did she pursue a different path all of her own? The two stories are illustrated with fluid and earthy etchings by Flora McLachlan.

 

Volume 5:

 Drawing from the Well takes us on a personal journey; a pilgrimage from West Wales to Wexford seeking a deeper understanding of ancestry, roots and inheritance. What is passed from generation to generation? A photo, a song. And what gets left behind or lost along the way? In Drawing from the Well, Rowan O’Neill travels with water collected from a well next to the Church where she was baptised, looking for a place to pour it, a place of connection and meaning.

 

The series of books is available to purchase retail from St Davids Cathedral Gift & Bookshop (in Wales) or the ferns Medieval Experience (in Ireland).

The books are published by Parthian Books, click here for their website.

Please get in touch with them if you wish to become an outlet or if you have any other enquiries about the books.

 

Categories
Arts Outcomes

VOW Voice of the Wells

album

VOW Voice of the Wells

In ancient times, wells were cherished and honoured, not only as vital sources of water, but throughout the Celtic lands as portals to the Otherworld. It is thought that these watery gateways were guarded and tended by Well Maidens, who were believed to walk in both worlds and maintain the sacred respect between mankind and the Earth.

VOW Voice of the Wells is a cross-border concept album, imagining the story of ancient wells and sacred spaces, with particular focus on the untold feminine, created by artists Jo MacGregor and Dan Messore.

 

Jo grew up in St Davids, West Wales and has been submersed in music, folk songs and stories her whole life. She is drawn to the many holy wells that spring up in the landscape near her home and this project gave her the opportunity to give voice and song to these special places.

 

In Jo’s own words, “There is voice in everything, it’s just a case of tuning in long enough to decipher it… I have always sung in sea caves and rocky crevices, chapel ruins and wells. The stony parameters of these spaces give a raw resonance to the human voice….and something more…It feels to me as though the very walls of a cave, or stones of an arched well, are joining in and beginning to sing their story, their sorrow, their joy into the notes…For me, as a singer, this [album] is a small way that I can say ‘our lands are important, they have stories locked inside them. These places have names which are written deep in our bones, which we would do well to remember, and give attention to’.

 

The full album is available for listening and download on all major streaming platforms.

Brigante, is one of the tracks on the 11 track album:

Categories
Arts Community Film Outcomes

Ferrytales by Ceri Ashe

playwright

Ferrytales by Ceri Ashe

Ferrytales is a one woman show about people in Fishguard with Irish heritage, written and performed by playwright and actress Ceri Ashe of Popty Ping Productions. The piece was commissioned by Ancient Connections in 2020 as part of our arts commissions programme and explores themes of identity, heritage and connection.

As part of the research and development of the show Ceri sought out and interviewed a number of Irish ‘immigrants’ living in Wexford and incorporated their stories into the play. It also delves deep into Ceri’s own story; brought up in West Wales by an English mother and Irish Father in a village where most people were Welsh Speaking.

How did this shape her and how she views the world?

 

The show was performed at Theatr Gwaun in 2021 as part of the first “On Lands Edge” Festival, another Ancient Connections initiative.

Click here for more information on Ceri’s work or to get in touch.

The following film is a showreel for the play:

Categories
Arts Community Film Outcomes

Pererin Wyf / Is oilithreach mé / I am a pilgrim

ARTIST

Pererin Wyf / Is oilithreach mé /
I am a pilgrim

Pererin Wyf was a participatory arts project led by the arts organisation SPAN arts, Welsh artist Rowan O’Neill and co-facilitated by Irish artists Rachel Uí Fhaoláin from Ceol Mo Chroí and John Ó Faoláin from Traditional Archive Channel. The project aimed to discover people’s connection to home through story and song, connecting to ‘Celtic Diaspora’ from Pembrokeshire and Wexford across the UK and beyond.

The project took its title and inspiration from an 18th century hymn by the prolific Welsh writer William Williams Pantycelyn; though quickly went beyond this to encompass any song which calls you home.

Cocreation is at the heart of how SPAN arts work, the engagement of the participants helped to shape the project and its outcomes, from their contributions to the digital map which took the project in new directions and created new avenues for collaboration to the stories they shared which shaped the exchanges and films.

 

Click here to view the story map.

 

The project commenced with a series of online participatory talks or enquiries into themes of home, hiraeth, cynefin and the experience of the Celtic diaspora. These were followed by online and in-person song-sharing workshops and by two exchange trips which led to Rachel Uí Fhaoláin writing a new song for the project. 

‘Pererin Wyf / Is Oilithreach Mé / I am a Pilgrim’ is a 20 minute documentary showing how the project unfolded:

The new song was sung by Span Arts community choir Côr Pawb as part of the ‘Y Canu Mawr’ event at St David’s Cathedral on May 29th 2023.

Here is the live stream recording of that event:

The project engaged over 200 participants from Wales, England, Ireland and North America, with overwhelmingly positive feedback. Particpants talked about gaining a deeper understanding of Welsh and Irish cultures as well as an opportunity to connect with themselves and others:

“It gave me a space to reflect on songs from my own Irish heritage as well as songs that might mean something to my Welsh sons now.”

 

“The deep connections between Ireland and Wales and the spread of people from both to places around the globe.”

 

“It has been a pilgrimage in itself over the many events.”

The new song ‘An Dara Craiceann’ has been beautifully recorded and is available to watch in this film by filmmaker John Ó Faoláin from the Traditional Archive Channel:

Categories
Archaeology Arts Film Outcomes

Sean Vicary ‘What is this that is coming?

ARTIST

Sean Vicary ‘What is this that is coming?

Sean Vicary is an artist based in Cardigan in West Wales, working across animation, moving image and digital media.

Sean was commissioned alongside three other Welsh and Irish artists to create new work that spoke to the following themes:

  • Personal or collective pilgrimage or journeying
  • Sacred Places
  • Celtic diaspora, ancestral heritage and a longing for home
  • Creative Storytelling that connects North Pembrokeshire and North Wexford

 

Sean chose to immerse himself in the archaeological digs that happened at Whitesands Beach, Pembrokeshire, in 2021, as part of the Ancient Connections Project; and his resultant work is a beautiful series of animations that combine archaeological drawings, voice recordings and collected sounds.

 

The work responds to a month spent as artist-in-residence with Dyfed Archaeological Trust during the excavation of an early medieval cemetery threatened by imminent coastal erosion at St Patrick’s Chapel, Porth Mawr, Sir Benfro. Although initially occupying the role of outside observer, Sean gradually became more directly involved with the dig, until eventually joining the archaeologists and other volunteers in helping to uncover and remove burials. The site has long been a place for gathering; in the recent past it was a choice spot for beach parties and raves, revelers oblivious of what lay beneath the dunes until human remains were exposed by storms in 2014.

 

The archaeologists, with Sean alongside them, worked down through multiple levels of chapel and graveyard, removing over 250 burials until they diminished in number and arrived at an oval enclosure with a central shrine dating from around 750 AD. Here the graves were replaced by traces of occupation; burning, seeds, animal bones, amber working. The shrine decorated with a carved human figure dressed in a tunic with raised stick-like arms, accompanied by early Irish inscriptions.

 

Sean found himself drawn to the archaeological process, which seemed to have similarities with his own art and animation practice, especially the use of a rigorous, repetitive method.

 

In this piece, ‘What is this that is coming?’ Sean has used moving image, field recordings and animation to reflect on his experience and examine resonances between the archaeological and artistic processes. The resulting stratigraphic sequences cut across inner and outer landscapes and evoke timescales that reach beyond our own lifespan: The hand drawn lines of archaeological site plans boil and shift while remnants of Mesolithic fauna washed ashore from a submarine forest are explored in minute detail, reminiscent of images beamed back to Earth by cameras on some remote interstellar space probe. These ecological temporalities suggest contemporary anxieties around the climate crisis and rising sea levels, as we contemplate a possible future as part of the geological record.

The following two films are short extracts from ‘What is this that is coming?’

The full length moving image piece was exhibited alongside other Ancient Connections at Oriel y Parc, St Davids and in Wexford County Hall in February-May 2023. It can next be seen in exhibition at The Turner House in Penarth as part of  ‘Agora’, a group exhibition curated by Cadw and Tactile Bosch which runs from August 3rd to September 3rd 2023. Click here for details. 

Click here to get in touch with Sean or to find out more about his work.

Categories
Arts Film Outcomes Stories

Sylvia Cullen ‘Smugglers & Summer Snowflakes’

ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

Sylvia Cullen - ‘Smugglers & Summer Snowflakes’

Sylvia Cullen is an Irish writer, based in Wexford, working in fiction, theatre, film, animation and audio. She was commissioned alongside three other Welsh and Irish artists to create new work that spoke to the following themes:

  • Personal or collective pilgrimage or journeying
  • Sacred Places
  • Celtic diaspora, ancestral heritage and a longing for home
  • Creative Storytelling that connects North Pembrokeshire and North Wexford

Sylvia responded to the themes by conducting a series of community exchanges in both Wexford and Pembrokeshire to gather inspiration for her work. She studied and researched stories and immersed herself in the places and landscapes that were important to her and the participants of her workshops.

Ultimately, Sylvia has created a stunning set of 4 short stories exploring human connection to place in both Wexford and Pembrokeshire. She has recorded these pieces and they are available to listen to as podcasts on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Souncloud.

 

Below shows the four stories, both as podcasts and short films of Sylvia as she reads them out loud.

Click here to get in touch with Sylvia or to find out more about her work. 

 

1. The Maërl Necklace:

Podcast:

Film:

2. The Iron Rose:

Podcast:

Film:

3. The Dark Warrior:

Podcast:

Film:

4. Needle Rock:

Podcast:

Film:

Categories
Archaeology Arts Film Outcomes Reports

Linda Norris ‘Fragment Dresser’

Artist

Linda Norris
‘Fragment Dresser’

Linda is a painter and glass artist based in Pembrokeshire and was commissioned alongside three other Welsh and Irish artists to create new work that spoke to the following themes:

  • Personal or collective pilgrimage or journeying
  • Sacred Places
  • Celtic diaspora, ancestral heritage and a longing for home
  • Creative Storytelling that connects North Pembrokeshire and North Wexford

Linda’s work centred around the idea of pottery sherds found in most people’s gardens that tell a story of domestic life and ordinary people.  Her initial proposal was to get people to send her found sherds with a ///what3words location tag and a story associated with them, however, as she began work it transpired that within the Republic of Ireland, these are considered archaeological artefacts and it would be illegal to do so. Instead, Linda started working with Welsh poet, Emma Baines, to run a series of in-person and online creative writing workshops to which participants brought along found sherds and responded with poetry and prose.

 

“Thank you so much for an incredibly fruitful set of workshops. The poetry we wrote is given a new fragility and dimension by your artwork.” Ali McGuire, workshop participant, Ireland.

 

The handwritten poems were then directly incorporated into Linda’s artwork, the Fragment Dresser. This exceptionally beautiful piece used glass combined with light projection to exploit the relationships between transparency and opacity achievable by sandblasting clear glass.

A video of Linda making the artwork:

Linday chose the dresser as it is an iconic piece of furniture central to domestic life in both Ireland and Wales. It is passed down through generations and is evocative of ideas about ‘home’ and ‘family’. The dresser is a repository for memory and shared experience and is also an item of cultural display.

 

A video of the final artwork:

Several offshoots of the project have emerged, including:

  • Bards ‘n Shards – a piece commissioned by Narberth Museum, creating ceramic pieces responding o the writing that took place in the creative writing workshops with Emma Baines
  • Shards Jewellery – making jewellery from found shards
  • Soil Collection – from archaeological sites to use in forthcoming work
  • Limpets – gilded 1000 year old limpet shells from the St Patricks Chapel archaeological site, excavated and discarded as part of the archaeological dig commissioned by Ancient Connections.

 

You can download Linda’s full report on her Ancient Connections residency below:

Click here to get in touch with Linda or to find out more about her work.