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Arts News

Sift – exhibition at Oriel Y Parc and St Davids Cathedral Refectory

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Sift – exhibition at Oriel Y Parc and St Davids Cathedral Refectory

Opening Thursday 23rd February

4-5 pm The Refectory, St Davids Cathedral – David Begley Small Finds

5-7 pm Oriel Y Parc – Seán Vicary, John Sunderland, Sylvia Cullen, Linda Norris

Sunday 26th March 2 – 5.20 pm Light-Boats with Tracy Breathnach, Whitesands Bay, St Davids

Exhbition tours to Wexford County Council Office, Carriklawn 17th April – 19th May. Opening Friday 14th April

Ancient Connections is delighted to announce the opening of an exhibition titled Sift at Oriel Y Parc and the Refectory, St Davids Cathedral on February 23rd. Following this, the show will tour to Wexford town, opening on April 14th at the Wexford County Council offices at Carricklawn.

The six artists included are John Sunderland, Sylvia Cullen, David Begley, who are all based in the east of Ireland and Seán Vicary, Linda Norris and Tracy Breathnach based in the west of Wales. 

The exhibition weaves together the themes of journeying, sacred places, ancestral heritage, storytelling and longing for home through photography, animation, sound, participatory arts, text, story, glass and light. The artists have been inspired by the findings of the Ancient Connections wider project. Historical research, folklore and story gathering have revealed deep connections between these two regions and the archaeological excavations and geophysical surveys at Whitesands and in Ferns, Wexford tell a story of travel and connection between Wexford and Pembrokeshire from pre-history to the modern day.

 Writer Sylvia Cullen, based in Wexford said:

It is the sea which connects us” – These were the words which resonated most deeply with me, when researching this commission. Writing and recording a quartet of new short stories in response to several of the Ancient Connections themes was the focus of my work. Most of the characters and worlds which emerged were informed by lives and events connected to the seawaters linking Pembrokeshire and North Wexford.  

 Multi-media artist Seán Vicary has created a new video installation and said:

My work responds to a month spent working alongside Dyfed Archaeological Trust during the excavation of an early medieval cemetery threatened by imminent coastal erosion at St Patrick’s Chapel, Whitesands. I have used moving image, field recordings and animation to reflect on this experience and examine resonances between the archaeological and artistic processes.  

 Tracy Breathnach was invited by Ancient Connections to create a participatory event at Whitesands Beach to commemorate all those buried in the early mediaeval cemetery at St Patrick’s Chapel. This free event will take place from 2- 5.20 pm on Sunday 26th March and is open to anyone. Tracy says: ‘Participants will create a simple palm-sized willow boat, filled with a tiny bundle of native plants to place on the beach for the tide to take out. Placing a light with each tiny boat, symbolically, this may represent thoughts, wishes, hopes and prayers for those living and those who have passed’.

Please book a slot through Eventbrite link here

David Begley has been artist in Residence with Ancient Connections since 2020. His research into medieval farming practices, St Aidan of Ferns, medicinal plants, medieval manuscript and ink making, as well as contemporary farming and healing practices in Ferns have inspired David’s current body of work Small Finds in drawing, painting and video which will be on display in the Refectory at St Davids Cathedral. 

Linda Norris has created a light and glass installation featuring a virtual dresser that incorporates poetry written by participants from Pembrokeshire and Ireland inspired by found ceramic shards and sandblasted onto glass pieces. Linda says:

In essence, the work imaginatively investigates powerful human connections across time and landscapes. These tiny shards provide a portal into other lives and places, and journeying there inspires us to reflect on our own.

In his series of lightboxes titled Unheimlich, John Sunderland documents the new pilgrimage route from Ferns to St. David’s, imagining how someone from the mediaeval period would have reacted to these landscapes, as they were then and how they are today. He has photographed scenes that epitomise these reflections.

 

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Archaeology News

St Patrick’s Chapel Dig – final report available

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Final Report for St Patrick's Chapel dig now available

The view or download the whole document click one the link below

ST PATRICK’S CHAPEL EXCAVATIONS 2014-16 2019 AND 2021

Report Summary below

Coastal erosion has been affecting St Patrick’s early medieval cemetery and medieval chapel at Whitesands, St Davids, Pembrokeshire since at least the mid-twentieth century. Storms in January and February 2014 exposed several burials, following which Dyfed Archaeological Trust in partnership with the University of Sheffield carried out five seasons of excavation: 2014–16, 2019 and 2021, funded by Cadw, the Nineveh Trust, the EU funded Ancient Connections project and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.

The earliest elements of the site consisted of an oval stone-built enclosure, 5.5m × 4.5m, with a centrally placed rectangular structure, 1.4m × 1.0m, dating to the mid eighth century. Several of the stones of the structure were carved — a ring-cross with interlace design, a human figure dressed in a tunic with stick arms raised, and an inscription reading ‘donoec’ (an Irish compound name meaning something like ‘dark youth’ or ‘noble warrior’). Evidence of occupation, mammal, bird and fish bones, cereal grains and other carbonised seeds, and craft production accompanied this early element, including the manufacture of copper alloy artefacts and amber working. Wind-blown sand rapidly covered these early elements.

In the mid- late eighth/ninth century a substantial stone-built cemetery enclosure wall was built over oval enclosure and rectangular structure, and the first burials appeared.
The first burials were of young children. Sand continued to accumulate, and as it did so
more burials were put in the ground. Over 250 burials were excavated, stacked up to eight deep in the sand, between the mid- late eighth/ninth century and c. 1100. After the first phase of child burial, both children and adults were buried. The earliest burials were simple dug graves; later in the sequence cist graves appeared.

In the eleventh/twelfth century a layer of rubble was laid down covering the early medieval cemetery and a stone-built chapel constructed. Burials accompanying the chapel consisted of cist graves capped with quartz pebbles or in some examples with limpet shells. All were of children. The chapel was abandoned during the sixteenth century.

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News Opportunity

Pererin Wyf – new arts project launch!

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Pererin Wyf - new arts project launch!

Pererin Wyf / Is oilithreach mé / I am a Pilgrim: Sounding the way back through story and song

is a new cross border participatory arts project connecting the Welsh and Irish diasporas of North Pembrokeshire and North Wexford launching this Autumn.

The Pererin Wyf project will be delivered by artist Rowan O’Neill and Pembrokeshire based community arts organisation SPAN Arts, working in tandem with co-facilitators, Irish artists Rachel Uí Fhaoláin from Ceol Mo Chroí and John Ó Faoláin from Traditional Archive Channel.

 Pererin Wyf is Welsh for the affirmative statement, ‘I am a pilgrim’ and is the title of an 18th century hymn written by prolific hymn writer, William Williams Pantycelyn from which this project takes its inspiration.  The hymn later became associated with the tune Amazing Grace and was popularised in the 1960s with a recording by Iris Williams.

The Pererin Wyf  project will invite singers from all over the world to record a version of this song in any language from the location of their choice.  Recordings will be pinned to a digital map to form a global chorus of this enduring song.  Project participants will also have the chance to offer their personal reflections and connections to North Pembrokeshire and Wexford whether current resident, the home place of their forebears, or place of significance for other reasons.

The project Pererin Wyf will begin in September 2022 with a series of free bi-weekly online workshops with world class speakers focusing on the key themes of the project; connecting with the Welsh and Irish diaspora, language, home, travel and song.  Speakers will include David Greenslade whose book Welsh Fever is a gazeteer of Welsh activity and connection in North America, Pamela Petro author of The Long Field, a meditation on hiraeth shortlisted for the 2022 Welsh Book of the year, Professor Helen Phelan Director of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance and Rachel Uí Fhaoláin and John Ó Faoláin, traditional song, folklore and story collectors based in Wexford.

A series of hybrid workshops will follow culminating in an exchange trip between host county participants in the Spring of 2023.  The workshops will result in a new version of the song featuring the Irish language and reflecting contemporary understandings of pilgrimage, home and return.

If you have a personal connection with North Pembrokeshire or Wexford and would like to take part in this project we would love to hear from you.  Please email rowan@span-arts.org.uk to find out more about how you could get involved or book a place on the introductory session on the 29th September through www.span-arts.org.uk 

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News

Public Art Launch – Do the Little Things – everyone welcome!

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Public Art Launch - Do the Little Things - everyone welcome!

Friday 18th November 3 – 5 pm St Davids Cathedral grounds 

Do the Little Things is a new public artwork designed for two locations: St Davids Cathedral, Pembrokeshire, and Ferns, Wexford.

The three giant bee hives made from cedar wood have been created by Bedwyr Williams, whose project has been realised with the support of Contemporary Art Society Consultancy.

These ‘living sculptures’ will house live bee colonies and Do the Little Things connects the two communities of St Davids and Ferns through the practice of beekeeping, reflecting the medieval story of St David and his friendship with St Aidan, who brought bees back to Ireland from Wales.

The bee colonies are being cared for by local beekeepers and community groups, who will be harvesting and selling honey in labelled jars designed by the artist and local school children.

Bedwyr says: “I’m interested in objects that invite communities to become active participants to make the artwork whole. 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.”

Sited in the grounds of St David’s Cathedral, the first edition of the work opens to the public on Friday 18 November from 3 pm. The launch will include a Q&A with the artist and local beekeeper Gayle Twitchen, storytelling, and a performance of  the ‘Bee Song’ by children from Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi led by composer Sam Howley. The event is free and all are welcome.

Bees have linked St Davids and Ferns since the sixth century, when St David gifted a hive of bees to St Aidan to keep, after the monastery bees twice followed their favourite monk home to Ireland and had to be brought back” said the Very Revd Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, Dean of the Cathedral. “We’re delighted to welcome this striking symbol of the ties between us”.

Please register for the event so that we know how many people to cater for