Arts News

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


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.



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


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


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