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Arts News

Cwtch Festival – tickets now live!

NEWS

Cwtch Festival - Tickets now Live!

Tickets are now on sale for Cwtch Festival, St Davids, Pembrokeshire, 28th – 30th October .

Over 50 acts will play free and ticketed gigs over three days this autumn- including Welsh and Irish talent: The Magic Numbers, Lisa O’Neill, Scott Matthews, Adwaith, Penelope Isles and Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, who have just supported Tom Jones and Stereophonics at the Principality Stadium.

Open to everyone, the festival is hosting exclusive, intimate ticketed gigs at City Hall and Ty’r Pererin as well as free music along the ‘cwtch trail’.

Weekend passes and individual gig tickets are available.

The festival is part funded by Ancient Connections.

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Arts

David Begley – Artist in Residence Wexford


Artists in Residence

David Begley – Artist in Residence Wexford

Wonder this: before St Aidan arrived and The Normans later, what drew the ancients to Ferns in the first place? Was it chance Tom Breen’s plough unearthed the first relic at Clone which led us to poke holes in the turf and speculate? Who lay the first seed? What made the first tribe put down roots, leaving charcoal and ceramic in their wake?

The first farmers followed distinct seasons. Today it snows in March, scalds in April, pours in July. So how will future farmers cope? During the drought of 2018 archaeologist Barry Lacey flew a drone over Tom Breen’s field and discovered an ecclesiastical enclosure surrounding Clone church. This led to the community dig of 2019. What will future excavations unearth?

David headshot 2 2

The Revelations the Trowel Unearths

“For centuries monks and artists have sought out solitude in order to reflect and create. Responding to the Monastic sites of Ferns and through the activity of excavating and exploring the history and heritage of farming in Ferns, I wish to illuminate the beauty of this place and its people.

During this residency I will be making a video documentary on the heritage of farming in Ferns, facilitate a 12 week visual arts, storytelling and gardening project with St Edan’s National School and produce a new body of work in drawing, print, painting, ceramic and writing. From silence and contemplation comes expression. I savour the opportunity to kneel in a field and delve through the surface, experience sifting the soil, witness revelations the trowel unearths and how this may percolate into my work, through observation and recording, and through encounters with people, places, objects and stories. I look forward to sharing what I have learned.

I have begun walking and documenting the hedgerow of a 24 acre field in Ferns, gathering materials and ingredients as I go, and making inks with these in order to respond to this farmer’s field and his fascinating family history.” – David Begley

Date: July 2020 – Aug 2022

Funded By: Wexford Percent for Art

Learn More at:
www.davidbegley.com
www.instagram.com/davidbegleyartist
www.facebook.com/davidbegleyartist

Project Outputs:
Exhibition
New Garden
Documentary Film

Categories
Arts

Artists Commissions

Arts Project

Artists Commissions

Ancient Connections has commissioned four new artists’ commissions, exploring some interlinked themes that are at the heart of the project including: pilgrimage, connecting with the Celtic diaspora of Ireland and Wales and our relationships to sacred places such as holy wells, chapels and ancient sites.

The artists will produce new artworks over the next two years, inspired by their own research as well as the findings uncovered by the Ancient Connections teams of story gatherers, community researchers and archaeologists. Each artist is expected to create work that can be shared online, in order to engage with both local audiences and with people much further afield such as Australia and North America, where there are significant communities of people with Irish and Welsh ancestry. The artists will also present their work in a final public showing in both Wexford and Pembrokeshire in 2022.

The four artists are Seán Vicary and Linda Norris, who are both visual artists based in West Wales, and artist/archaeologist John Sunderland and writer Sylvia Cullen, based in Ireland’s south-east.

Linda Norris

‘Williams Leatham Plate’ from Cân yr Oer Wynt series, ceramic decal on vintage china

Linda Norris proposes to use ‘sherds’ or found pottery fragments as the starting point for her project, encouraging people to send sherds to her and locate them on an online map. She says:

“Far from the glamour of precious metal hordes or celebrated monuments, sherds speak of anonymous domestic stories and link us with the people who lived in our homes in the past. I propose to initiate a ‘citizen archaeology’ project in Pembrokeshire and Wexford, and extending into the Celtic Diaspora. I will be researching people who emigrated from these regions to the Diaspora in the 19th century and trying to trace their descendants.”

Seán Vicary

'Field Notes RAF St Davids'

Multi-media artist Seán Vicary recently discovered that his great-grandmother was born in 1874, just 3.5 miles from Ferns in Camolin, and he seeks to:

“Understand the forces that shaped me living here across the water from my great grandmother’s home. By excavating my own past, I’ll undertake a process that mirrors the archaeological and historical research underway in both communities”.

He will be discovering ‘hidden narratives’ in the landscape and creatively working them into an engaging personal travelogue that moves back and forth between Pembrokeshire and Wexford.

“Voice, text, music, film and animation will combine to evoke these places in an exciting, contemporary way; building a deeper sense of identity through sharing experiences of reconnection”.

John Sunderland

'The Shooting Hut' (Site 1, Visit 9) from the project 'Touching Darkness' (2019)

Trained archaeologist and visual artist John Sunderland will be undertaking a pilgrimage from Whitesands to Ferns and excavating found objects along the route for the creation of a reliquary alongside pinhole photographic work. Rather than approaching this like an analytical contemporary archaeologist, he hopes to examine his discoveries with a mediaeval mindset, paying attention to “the supernatural or the sacred, to questions of good and evil, signs or portents”.

Sylvia Cullen

Cover of Sylvia Cullen’s play The Thaw, commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland, produced by the Courthouse Arts Centre in Tinahely, published by New Island Books, inspired by the people of North Wexford, South Wicklow and East Carlow.

Writer Sylvia Cullen proposes to create a bespoke new series of short stories for podcasts or livestreaming, drawing on “dramatic tales of piracy and bootlegging along the Welsh and Irish coastlines” and haunting tales of sacred places or a longing for home. She will also run creative writing workshops in both communities.

Watching these projects evolve separately and then ultimately weave together in a final presentation will be a journey of discovery for both the project team and our audiences.

Date: August 2020 – December 2022

Funded by: Ancient Connections

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Arts

Fern Thomas Artist in Residence Pembrokeshire

Artist in Residence

Fern Thomas – Artist in Residence Pembrokeshire

YNYS: “…and as the relics, stones, bones and stories from both places washed out to sea, a new island was formed right in the middle. A shared place for culture, history, dreams, poetry and song from all time to live alongside each other. And from this place, a radio station was formed and began to transmit…”

“For this project I am creating a radio station that ‘transmits’ from YNYS, a fictional island located between Pembrokeshire and Wexford. YNYS takes its initial response from the erosion on Whitesands Bay, which exposed the buried chapel of St Patrick. The project considers the potential, through coastal erosion, for all of this history to be washed away – that somehow these coastal places are living right at the precipice, or at the very edge of history.” – Fern Thomas

Click here to listen to Fern’s radio transmissions

 

A Place of the Past and Future

“Taking this as a broader image I am imagining Pembrokeshire’s history washing into the sea while simultaneously Wexford’s history does the same, and from here they move towards one another and meet somewhere in the middle to form a fictional island. An island where St David can sit alongside the three young men from Wexford in their borrowed canoe; where the fire of Boia’s hill fort or the mermaids off Porth y Rhaw are as present as the eroding sand at Whitesands bay. A place where the past and the future are simultaneously considered.

This audio work will exist as several episodes which will follow the development of the Ancient Connections project where I will weave together excerpts of interviews with community members and participants in the Ancient Connections project alongside folklore, historical research, myths, field recordings from the sites, and sounds from archives as well as the present day to create an audio telling from this timeless land.”

“Embedded in the broadcasts I will offer poetic responses inspired by the questions being asked within the project as it develops, following the mysteries, the stories and the revelations as the Ancient Connection project unfolds.

The radio station’s content will be shaped by communities of Pembrokeshire and also of Wexford through public engagement events and one to one conversations.” – Fern Thomas

Date: July 2020 – August 2022

Learn More at: 

www.fernthomas/ynys.com

Project Outputs: 
Podcasts, a ceremonial event and an exhibition

Categories
Arts Community

Animating Schools

Arts Project

Animating Schools

Animating Schools brings three schools together for the ambitious creation of a short animation film telling the stories of connection between these two regions. The participating schools are Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi in St Davids, Pembrokeshire, Scoil Naomh Maodhog Ferns and St Edan’s School, both in Ferns, County Wexford.

In March 2020, the project kicked off with a group of aged 12-13 plus staff traveling from St Davids to Ferns to meet and get to know their peers in the Ferns schools. The pupils in all three schools have been learning about their own heritage stories, as well as the stories that link these two regions through working with Fishguard based storyteller Deb Winter and Wexford based Lorraine O’Dwyer. In Ferns, the young people performed their stories to each other as well as sharing musical performances of contemporary and traditional pieces.  

“I just wanted to send a HUGE thank you from all at Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi for the amazing visit we had to Ireland. The pupils and I were so ‘blown away’ by the incredibly warm Irish welcome and every aspect of our visit was perfect! The arrival at Scoil Maodhog was moving and our pupils are now texting, snap chatting/what’s-apping etc. and looking forward to the return visit. All the excursions were fabulous and informative and when I asked pupils what their favourite aspect of the trip was, not one of them could decide as there were just too many things to pick from.”

Cilla Bramley, Head of Expressive Arts at Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi

The project is due to recommence in March 2021, and Cardiff based animation studio Winding Snake will be assisting the young people to creatively retell these stories through different animation techniques, culminating in a short film that will be screened in venues and online in 2021-22.

“The team at Winding Snake are thrilled to be working with the schools involved as part of this exciting and historic project.  We can’t wait to get stuck in and start making! The young people taking part will work with us to create animation, learn musical composition, make foley and sound effects, participate in script writing and storytelling sessions, and will work with professional actors to learn acting and performance skills. With lots and lots of arts and craft thrown into the mix too, it’s going to be a wonderful project.” 

Amy Morris, Director of Winding Snake

A short documentary film about the project will also be created by filmmaker Terence White based in Wexford.

Date: March 2020 – Jan 2022

Project Outputs: A short animated film

Learn More at: www.windingsnake.com

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Arts

Bedwyr Williams ‘Do the Little Things’ Public Art commission St Davids and Ferns

Arts Project

'Do the Little Things' Public Art Commission in Ferns and St Davids by Bedwyr Williams

Artist Bedwyr Williams was commissioned to create a permanent public artwork for St Davids and Ferns as a legacy to the Ancient Connections programme.

Inspired by the story of St Aidan, St David and the bees, Williams has created a series of giant beehives, three in St Davids Cathedral grounds and three in Ferns. These evocative structures are modelled loosely on the kind of traditional straw skep hives that St Aidan might have used in the care of St David’s bees.

Though much larger in scale and simpler in form, these skep sculptures house real bee colonies in conventional beehives, creating a living, working sculpture for both sites. Beekeepers in both communities have been active in the design of the skeps and are taking care of the bee colonies. In time, both Ferns and St Davids will produce their own honey, which will be harvested and jarred for sale at both sites and shared across the Irish Sea between the neighbouring communities.

The story goes that, on leaving St David, Aidan was followed by David’s bees three times to the ship as he attempted to return to Ireland. Each time St Aidan dutifully returned the bees to the monastery but on the third occasion Saint David, seeing St Aidan’s kindness, agreed for the bees to accompany him to Ireland. Williams feels that this story, whether truth or myth, is a nice motif for the connection between both sites.

By evoking or invoking this ‘story’ with a sculpture, which also has a practical use it’s possible to make these ancient connections feel tangible and relatable.

Bedwyr Williams

Bedwyr Williams is originally from St Asaph and is now based in Caernafon. He is widely recognised as one of Wales’ most significant contemporary artists and represented Wales in the Venice Biennale in 2013 with his installation ‘The Starry Messenger’. He works across a range of mediums in both gallery and public art settings, often employing wry humour and surrealism to explore culture through a different lens. For this project, he has worked closely with the  Contemporary Art Society, a consultancy specialising in support and delivery of public art projects. Bedwyr says: ‘As an artist I like turning to stories and myths for my inspiration and what I really enjoy is working with these tales in a playful relatable way’

“I’m interested in objects that invite communities to become active participants to make the artwork whole. I want people to become fully engaged in the artwork, doing the little things to bring the artwork to life, forgetting themselves and their daily concerns for a few hours. St David’s last words were “Gwnewch y pethau bychain” or “Do the little things.” This ethos has guided the development of my proposal which is founded on the story of St David and St Aidan and steeped in the magic and history of these two intertwined locations”.

Funded by: Ancient Connections

Dates 2021-2022

Categories
Arts

Seán Vicary

Art Commission

Seán Vicary

“I’m going to embark on a journey through an entangled landscape of ancestral heritage and place in search of my great-grandmother’s roots near Ferns.

Using the language and processes of archaeology as a metaphor, I’ll scrape back the layers of landscape to discover hidden narratives, creatively working them into an engaging personal travelogue that moves from N. Pembrokeshire to N. Wexford and ‘home’ again. Voice, text, music, film and animation will combine to evoke these places, building a deeper sense of identity through sharing experiences of reconnection.”

'Field Notes RAF St Davids'

“I recently discovered that my great-grandmother was born in 1874, just 3.5 miles from Ferns in Camolin. She was one of 10 children, I know nothing else about her or her family. In this current time of flux and heightened identity politics it feels apposite to consider where we’ve come from in order to contemplate where we might want to go. I carry my Irish roots in my name, yet I’ve never really acknowledged that part of myself. I’d like to understand the forces that shaped me living here across the water from my great grandmother’s home. By excavating my own past I’ll undertake a process that mirrors the archaeological and historical research underway in both communities.

I’ll be looking at different personal responses to place and landscape, where they overlap, and how artistic representation might open them for another’s understanding. I’m particularly excited about the use of geophysics for revealing hidden structures/ traces in the landscape and I’ll be exploring how the data produced by the geophysics techniques (magnetic gradiometry, electromagnetic conductivity and ground penetrating radar) can be manipulated to inform an artistic outcome.

There’s something alluring about the archaeological process and I find many similarities with my own arts practice. Archaeology’s test pits and stratigraphic sequences map phases of place over time, cutting across our inner and outer landscapes and forcing us to imagine our future as part of this record. Thinking on timescales that reach beyond our own lifespan informs how we make decisions. How might this also affect our understanding of contemporary anxieties?”

Date: September 2020 – December 2020

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Arts Pilgrimage

Creative Camino

Arts Project

Creative Camino

Ancient Connections is undertaking an experimental and creative pilgrimage from Ferns to St Davids in May 2022 – the Creative Camino. Four artists, four community members, a travel writer and a filmmaker will make the eight day journey on foot from Ferns to St Davids starting on 1st May and ending on 8th May. A documentary film will tell the story of their journey and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

The artists are: Bonnie Boux, Kate Powell, Suzi MacGregor and Ailsa Richardson

The project is teaming up with Journeying, a Celtic focused walking and pilgrimage guide company based in Pembrokeshire who are working closely with The British Pilgrimage Trust on the development of the new pilgrim route from Ferns to St Davids, which will be the main legacy of the Ancient Connections project and will be launched officially in 2023.

2023 marks the 900th anniversary of the granting of a privilege to St Davids by Pope Callixtus II, who declared that two pilgrimages to St Davids Cathedral were equal to one journey to Rome. It seems a fitting year to launch the new route! 

The route will encourage stronger links between these two Celtic regions, as well as attract overseas visitors in a sustainable form of cross-border tourism. 

 The British Pilgrimage Trust have created a mailing list for those interested in keeping up to date about the developments of this new route. Click on the button below to join.

The Journey

The pilgrimage sets off with  community celebrations and a world premiere performance of a traditional Celtic music piece (composed especially for the event). A fitting festive send-off for a group of pilgrims. Pilgrims will then make their way to Rosslare via Oulart, Olygate and Our Lady’s Island where they will take a ferry to Fishguard. Finally, they will walk the Pembrokeshire coast path along with some inland pathways.  They will reach their destination, the small city of St Davids, on Sunday 8th May where they will be given a glorious Pembrokeshire welcome. The pilgrims will be joined by a giant St David puppet who will lead the travellers into the grounds of St Davids Cathedral with a special choir procession. A spectacle to behold! The event is led by Small World Theatre . The artists will present an improvised performance to share the story of their journey and experiences along the way.

Media and Documentary

Throughout the journey, the experiences of the pilgrims as well as the beautiful scenery, heritage sites and wildlife will be documented by Llif:Flow a digital media company based in Angelsey. The stills and footage will be used to promote the project and new pilgrimage route concept across social media platforms and a short documentary film has been commissioned as promotion and legacy.

Follow the story!

Follow the pilgrims journey on our Instagram page which will be updated daily

Date: May 2022

Funded by: Ancient Connections

In Partnership with: Journeying 

Project Outputs: 
Artist performances 
A Documentary film
Short media content for social media and still photos

Learn More at: www.journeying.co.uk

Categories
Arts

Artists in Residence

Arts Project

Artists in Residence

Ancient Connections has appointed two Artists in Residence who will be exploring the shared past of North Wexford and North Pembrokeshire working alongside the contracted archaeologists and historians as well as local communities.

The artists will produce new artworks over the next two years, inspired by archaeological excavations, geophysical surveys and community story searches in Pembrokeshire and Wexford; with a final public showing of the work in both places in Spring/Summer 2022.

Fern Thomas

The artist selected for Pembrokeshire is Fern Thomas; she is based in Swansea and has a long track-record of working with communities. Fern plans to create a radio station and a series of 16 podcasts that follow the progress of the Ancient Connections project. The radio station will be broadcast from a fictional island YNYS in the Irish Sea: “A shared place for culture, history, dreams, poetry and song from all time to live alongside each other.”

Fern describes this as:

“An island where St David can sit alongside the three young men from Wexford in their borrowed canoe; where the fire of Boia’s hill fort or the mermaids off Porth y Rhaw are as present as the eroding sand at Whitesands Bay. A place where the past and the future are simultaneously considered”.

David Begley

The artist selected for Wexford is David Begley, an experienced multimedia artist. 

David invites us to:

“Wonder this: before St Aidan arrived and The Normans later, what drew the ancients to Ferns [Wexford] in the first place? Was it chance Tom Breen’s plough unearthed the first relic at Clone which led us to poke holes in the turf and speculate? Who lay the first seed? What made the first tribe put down roots, leaving charcoal and ceramic in their wake?”

David will make a video documentary on the history of farming in Ferns, facilitate a 12 week visual arts, storytelling and gardening project with St Edan’s National School, Ferns and produce a new body of work in drawing, print, painting, ceramic and writing.

It is also hoped that the two artists will find ways to collaborate together and learn from each other’s journeys.

Date: July 2020 – July 2022

Funded by: Ancient Connections and the Wexford Percent for Art scheme

Categories
Arts

Sylvia Cullen – Smugglers and Summer Snowflakes

Art Commission

Sylvia Cullen

Smugglers & Summer Snowflakes will be a bespoke new collection of short stories, responding to the Ancient Connections themes of journeying, sacred places, Celtic diaspora and longing for home. Inspired by the Story Searches from 2019, and using my own tailored process of Creative Exchanges with local communities, I will create this new collection, setting two stories in Wexford and two in Pembrokeshire.

A Summer Snowflakis a beautiful, rare, poisonous flower native to Wexford; it symbolises the elements every great short story should contain. Smugglers speaks for itself suggesting where I will glean inspiration for this new collection from – drawing on dramatic tales of piracy and bootlegging along the Welsh and Irish coastlines.

The stories will be distributed digitally and shared online as a podcast series for the global Celtic diaspora, as well as being published in book form. In addition, they will be broadcast on local radio in Wales and Wexford.

A Shared Past

“I am a rural-based writer, living in north county Wexford. For Ancient Connections, I will make new work that draws inspiration from our shared past on both sides of the Irish Sea, in order to illuminate our present. This commission is a superb opportunity to explore the interconnectedness of these two regions, creating haunting stories, which will linger on in the minds of all who listen to or read them, no matter where in the world they live.”

Creative Exchanges

“As part of the research process, I will facilitate several Creative Exchanges with local community groups in both Wales and Wexford. I see these interactions as a two-way exchange of oral history and local research. I will facilitate a creative writing workshop for a number of groups and in exchange, participants will offer me their perspectives and opinions on the four Ancient Connections themes.” – Sylvia Cullen

Cover of Sylvia Cullen’s play The Thaw, commissioned by the Arts Council of Ireland, produced by the Courthouse Arts Centre in Tinahely, published by New Island Books, inspired by the people of North Wexford, South Wicklow and East Carlow.

Date: September 2020 – December 2022

Funded by: Ancient Connections

Project Outputs: 
New short stories
Podcasts and radio broadcasts
Final exhibition book launch