On Friday 13th November four artists from the ACE Breaking the Mould: Hands On Art At Our Place project met up with members of the management team of the new HLF funded Hidden Hillfort project, and CAER Heritage Project artist Paul Evans for a day of intensive creative co-production.
Based around a series of exercises devised by Paul to put everyone at ease and to create a comfortable atmosphere for a free exchange of ideas, the day was amazingly productive and generated over 150 ideas for heritage interpretation that will feed into the development of the new centre that will be sited in the former Gospel Hall, Church road Caerau.
Of course 150 ideas is a lot to fit into one relatively small place so everyone’s suggestions were then subjected to some practical reasoning and trimmed down and organised around four key themes of Materials, Storytelling, Community & Co-production, Inside and Outside (i.e. how we might bring the hill fort into the heritage centre – and how we might bring ideas from the heritage centre up onto the hill).
The team also found time to discuss ideas for a heritage themed event will take place at the former Gospel Hall sometime around Christmas. There will be more news about this soon so keep your eyes on our Facebook Page, on Twitter – and WATCH THIS SPACE!
We would like to thank everyone who took part on the day and contributed so much of their time, energy and creative thought: artists Imogen Higgins, Becci Holmes (see also In Rainbows), Nicola Parsons, and Dylan Sutton, Breaking the Mould coordinator Becky Matyus, members of the Hidden Hillfort project team – Dave Horton (ACE) Kimberley Jones (ACE), Dave Wyatt (Cardiff University), Oliver Davis (Cardiff University) – and CAER Heritage Project artist Paul Evans.
In June 2016 CAER Heritage Project lead artist Paul Evans and local film maker Viv Thomas visited the Utopia Fair at Somerset House in London. Presented in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Connected Communities programme, the Utopia Fair showcased the creative outcomes from 25 AHRC-funded projects, including the CAER Model Village Project. All of these projects have worked to bring together local community groups, researchers, activists and artists across the UK to explore how utopian ideals can be used to benefit the environmental and social future of these communities.
Our next door neighbour at the fair was The Middlefield Dig. The Middlefield Dig in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire is part of a project called Middlefield’s Utopia – finding out about the history of the estate with people who live there. The project is organised by Professor Carenza Lewis and Dr Ian Waites at the University of Lincoln. The project team has worked with residents and volunteers in Gainsborough to conduct archaeological excavations on and around the Middlefield estate, to find out about its recent history, and to discover history going further back in time.
During a series of conversations between Paul, Viv and Carenza, it became obvious that these two projects have a lot in common: both projects are based on strong principles of community co-production, both are based within estates that were designed on utopian ‘garden city’ principles (originally developed in Radburn, New Jersey by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright) and above all both Caerau and Ely and Middlefield are wonderful, vibrant communities.
Although separated by a straight line distance of 268.78km or 167.01 miles, the aim of Unearthing Utopia is to create a short film that celebrates the connections between these two projects and between these two sites. In order to create this film we have run two workshops on separate days in Cardiff and Gainsborough – both workshops were devised and led by Paul and have been expertly filmed by Viv.
Gainsborough v* Cardiff
The Cardiff workshop (see photo above) was attended by members of the local community along with Oliver Davis and Kimberley Jones. Carenza travelled down from Lincoln for the day and we all had an amazingly productive time at Our Place: Dusty Forge, sharing stories and working on scripts based on questions that were designed to draw out comparisons between these two remarkably similar projects. These scripts were then used as the basis for a series of informal interviews that were filmed by Viv.
Cardiff v* Gainsborough – the return match!
The Gainsborough Workshop was attended by community members from the Middlefield estate along with Carenza Lewis and Ian Waites, an art historian from Lincoln University who grew up on the estate. Viv travelled up from Cardiff to film the event and we were met in Gainsborough by Helen McCarthy, an active member of the CAER Heritage Project team – now well versed in the art of conducting interviews! Paul led a mirror image creative workshop, helping participants to generate scripts in preparation for their filmed interviews, and to take part in mapping/timeline activities that aimed to capture memories of growing up on the estate and their experiences during The Middlefield Dig. It was another remarkable day of sharing experiences and building new friendships!
The film is now in the editing stage and will be ready for viewing some time in the next couple of months – check back soon for an update on this exciting collaborative project.
On 24-26th June 2016 CAER Heritage Project Lead artist Paul Evans, artist and film maker Jon Harrison, local film maker Viv Thomas and historian Dan Jewson attended the Utopia Fair at Somerset House London. Over the weekend, 35 representatives from contemporary utopian movements from all over the UK took up stalls and fill the courtyard, celebrating the pockets of utopia that are flourishing around the country from Newcastle to Cardiff, Sheffield to Scotland, Brighton to Doncaster plus a range of London sites.
Presented in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Connected Communities programme, the Utopia Fair showcased the creative outcomes from 25 AHRC-funded projects, including the CAER Model Village Project, alongside 10 additional initiatives that have been hand-selected by Somerset House. These projects work to bring together local community groups, researchers, activists and artists across the UK to explore how utopian ideals can be used to benefit the environmental and social future of our communities.
Young and not-so-young visitors to The Model Village stall were invited to design their own character or scenery to feature in our amazing Model Village Theatre – created in laser cut plywood by MAKERS Sheffield.
After designing their characters for the theatre, our visitors were given the option to further develop their own individual cartoon characters – inhabitants for our Utopian ‘Model Village’
They also worked on scripts for their characters. These characters were then scanned into iPads and imported into a user-friendly app that allowed them to create short, scripted animation sequences. iPad photographs of Somerset House were used as backgrounds or scenery for these sequences.
In all over 15 animation sequences were created over the duration of the festival.
Members of the team also had lots of fantastic conversations over the weekend and made some great new friends. Although we were very busy, and it was difficult to get round to see everyone, we especially welcome the connections that we made with the Life Chances Project and with our neighbours at the Middlefield Dig.
The second stage of The Model Village Project took place on Wednesday 15th June at Michaelston Community College, Ely – a short distance from the site of the CAER Heritage Project 2016 community dig at Michaelston Medieval Village.
The young people, all from year 8, were given an introductory talk by Dr David Wyatt and CAER lead artist Paul Evans. During this they reviewed and reintroduced some of the topics dealt with in the first workshops at the The Glamorgan Archives (see Dusty’s First World War and The Model Village Part 1) along with an introduction to the concept of Utopia: an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable – or nearly perfect – qualities.
The young people then divided into two groups and group one set off to visit the archaeological excavation at Michaelston Medieval Village; to learn more about medieval life, participate in the dig alongside community volunteers and examine some of the finds.
Meanwhile group two took part in a Medieval-themed version of the animation workshop that took place in The Model Village Part 1.
After a brief collaborative drawing exercise the young people developed their own individual cartoon characters – inhabitants for the Michaelston Medieval Village – and worked on scripts for their characters. These characters were then scanned into iPads and imported into a user-friendly app that allowed them to create short animation sequences. Photographs of Cosmeston Medieval Village, sourced from Wikicommons, were used as backgrounds or scenery for these sequences.
The young people then carefully rehearsed their scripts and recorded their films/animation sequences, making the characters move in rhythm with their words.
Because of heavy rain the second group did not get a chance to visit the site, but this did give us time to give some serious thought to ideas of Utopia: what life might be like in a perfect world, and how Utopian ideas might apply to medieval villages – e.g Michaelston – or garden villages – e.g. Ely. The young people wrote some amazing reflections on their thoughts about this topic, which were recorded by Viv Thomas. One of these recordings has been used in the film; a beautiful summary/conclusion that helps reinforce connections between the substantial range of ideas explored throughout the project.
Selected animation sequences from this workshop have been featured in The Model Village film, along with an interview with Dr Stephanie Ward made at the Glamorgan Archive, and film sequences from the Ely estate made by local film maker Viv Thomas and Jon Harrison.
This is my first blog for CAER, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to introduce myself and our latest activities. I’m Steph Ward and am a lecturer in modern Welsh history at Cardiff University. I’m working with CAER Heritage’s Dave Wyatt and recent graduate Dan Jewson on a new CAER heritage project which is exploring the First World War history of Ely. Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, ‘Dusty’s First World War’ is aiming to uncover the origins of the Ely housing estate and the history of the Dusty Forge. We are working closely with Michaelston Community College, Healthy Wealthy Wise, local artists, ACE and other community groups within Ely and Caerau throughout the summer and autumn. We plan to have a permanent exhibition at the Dusty of our findings and to remember the impact the Great War had upon the area.
The Ely estate was originally designed as a garden village in the 1920s. Originating with Ebenezer Howard in the late nineteenth century, garden cities or garden villages were designed to bring together the best of town and country living. The rapid development of Victorian industrial cities like Cardiff led to often appalling housing conditions rife with overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions. Howard called for housing to be placed outside of the city, surrounded by plenty of green spaces for family and community recreation. The first garden village was established in Letchworth, Hertfordshire and was a wonderful example of spacious housing, large gardens and green spaces all within commuting distance of a major city. In Cardiff, the City Council bought the land on which the Ely estate now stands from Green Farm and Red Farm, developing its own garden village in the west of the city following the end of the First World War. The Ely garden village was therefore established as a model housing estate providing ‘the homes for heroes’ in the aftermath of this deadly global conflict. This is the untold local story that we want to explore in our project.
To get things going, in May 2016, we took a group of Year 8 pupils from Michaelston Community College to the Glamorgan Archives for a day of workshops and research into Ely’s origins. We had a very successful day with them, discovering how the Ely estate was designed as a garden village and thinking about the utopian ideas behind its development. The pupils studied the original plans of the estate and the architect’s drawings of the earliest houses. They then designed their own garden villages as utopian versions of Ely in a workshop with me. With Dan, the pupils role played as 1920s housing officers allocating families to new homes after the war. They also all had an opportunity to animate their own films about their findings with CAER artist Paul Evans and film-maker Jon Harrison. You can check out their film HERE.
What was really interesting was how the pupils had a lot of ideas about how Ely has changed over time. They were keen to discuss whether they think the principles of the garden village have survived in Ely and also about how they think their area could be improved. It really was a great start to the project and we are looking forward to working with the same pupils again in the autumn, when they will carry out an oral history project.
Following our initial activities with the school, the Dusty’s First World War team’s next big initiative was to take a roadshow to this year’s Ely Festival and had a fabulous day there! We took along OS maps to show how the estate developed. We had loads of interest and input from local people who were willing to share their memories and who have lived, or whose families have lived, on the estate since the 1920s and 1930s– so if you visited us then THANKS!
The project still has lots to do, but one thing is already very clear: the people of Ely have a great sense of pride for the estate and feel very connected to their local history. We will be working to continue to uncover this hidden history of Ely over the summer, but we need YOUR HELP!
Dan has planned a whole range of activities and we are looking for volunteers with memories and artefacts of the Dusty and the early housing estate. If you would like more information about how to get involved please contact Dan Jewson JewsonD@cardiff.ac.uk.
On 9th June 2016 CAER Heritage Project lead artist Paul Evans and film maker Jon Harrison led the first of two Model Village creative workshops at The Glamorgan Archives with students from Michaelston Community School. This was the first stage in the creation of The Model Village film for the Connected Communities Utopia Festival at Somerset House
Featuring as part of a intensive, full day of activities within the archives entitled Past Detectives, the Model Village workshop was also designed to draw connections between research into Welsh Garden Villages with Cardiff University researcher Dr Stephanie Ward and the CAER Heritage Project Dusty Forge WW1 project with Dan Jewson.
After a brief collaborative drawing exercise the young people developed their own individual cartoon characters – inhabitants for the Ely Garden Village – and worked on scripts for their characters. These characters were then scanned into iPads and imported into a user-friendly app that allowed them to create short animation sequences. Photographs from the Ely estate were used as backgrounds or scenery for these sequences.
The young people then carefully rehearsed their scripts and recorded their films/animation sequences, making the characters move in rhythm with their words.
Selected animation sequences from this workshop will be featured in The Model Village film, along with an interview with Dr Stephanie Ward made at the Glamorgan Archive, and film sequences from the Ely estate made by local film maker Viv Thomas and Jon Harrison.
Caer Heritage Project artist Paul Evans has been busy recently, completing work on our Romanobritish table tennis tables or ‘Ping Pong Portals to the Past’.
Paul used a carefully chosen selection from dozens of designs created during three days of intensive artistic workshops with students from Woodlands and Glyn Derw High Schools – see the following links for further details of these lively creative sessions:
Using these designs Paul has created 16 hand cut stencils that were used to transfer the designs onto two table tennis tables, one to be permanently sited at Michaelstone Community School, the other at Woodlands High School.
The third and final Romanobritish workshop, which took place at Glyn Derw High School in late October 2015, was all about focussing on the output of the Romanobritish project – a design for our ‘Ping Pong Portal to the Past’.
We began the day with the enjoyable but challenging task of creating a cartoon ‘Romans v Ancient Britons’ table tennis match. Romanobritish lead artist Paul Evans handed out an example of what such a match might look like, but our young people had no problems creating their own, individual, unique interpretations of this scene.
Question is who would win? Answers on a postcard to CAER Heritage Project please!
Next we turned our attention to developing a series of Romanobritish symbols or motifs for our table tennis design, using a collection of images of beautiful Romanobritish brooches as inspiration …
Finally, we collected all of the ideas, drawings and motifs developed over the three days of workshops and transferred the best of these onto A0 sheets of paper laid out to scale with table tennis markings.
All of these will now feed into the final designs to be developed by lead artist Paul Evans over the next month. These will then be transferred onto the outdoor table tennis tables sat Woodlands High School and Michaelston Community College sometime during the first few weeks of 2016.
Day two of the RomanoBritish project was once again packed full of creativity.
After a review of last week’s activities we warmed up with a customised version of the surrealist parlour game Exquisite Corpse. Although this has a rather alarming title, it’s actually a very simple, fun and creative drawing game involving paper folds.
After the first stage, during which we created some spectacular mixed-up monsters, we applied the same format to the Romans and the Brits.
The next activity took us outdoors and onto Trelai Park where the Ely Roman Villa is buried*. Measuring out a 30m line – where 1mm represented a year, 1m a thousand years – the young people were each allocated a millennium, made a sign for this year on paper, and then physically spaced themselves along it to scale. This really made us think about the huge distance that we need to go back into deep time to encounter the very earliest cave art that we explored in RomanBritish Session I .
Once we had established our timeline we located the millennia to which our examples of ancient art belonged, drew them onto luggage labels and tied them in place.
Returning indoors we then looked further into the culture of ancient Rome.
The Romans have developed something of a reputation amongst historians for ‘colourful graffiti’ so we decided to turn this idea its head and create some colourful, contemporary, ‘graffiti style’ versions of Latin phrases. These were created collectively, each of the young people designing their own Roman graffiti letter which were then compiled into classical sayings.
We then explored the mosaics that were used by the Romans to decorate various surfaces.
*Roman Villa site: In 1894 a first century Roman villa was discovered on Ely Racecourse and excavations were carried out in 1922. The site of the villa is still visible as an unmown area in the middle of Trelai Park, although the excavations have been covered over. The site is a scheduled ancient monument.
Romanobritish is a new project that is being run in partnership between Woodlands School, Glyn Derw High School, Caer Heritage Project lead artist Paul Evans and Dr David Wyatt from Caer Heritage Project. The aim of the Romanobritish is to co-produce designs for playing surfaces of two table tennis tables that will be permanently sited within Woodlands and Michaelston Community Schools.
These ‘playable artworks’ will act as ‘ping-pong portals to the past’ with eye-catching designs based on artistic motifs from the Romanobritish cultural period that began after the Roman conquest around AD43. The first session, however, focussed on art that preceded this time and amounted to a whistle-stop tour of artistic prehistory.
The Romanobritish project will feature a number of collaborative artworks during the course of the project and our first piece was based on the theme of very ancient hand stencils which feature in the most ancient cave paintings, dating back some 40,000 years. These hand stencils were originally created using blown paint but we decided to use felt tip pens to trace our hands. Everyone in the class room – teachers, class room assistants and young people each traced their own hand onto the paper and decorated in with patterns based on the very earliest rock art and spiral motifs that appeared in the Neolithic.
We then looked at Palaeolithic representations of animals and considered the conditions under which they were made – in the dark, deep in the ground, from memory. We each drew an animal from memory using charcoal – a material that would have been quite familiar to our ancient ancestors – again creating a group artwork, representing our collective identity.
The final creative task for a very busy morning was to make an individual artwork in homage to the Bronze Age . After looking at images of golden masks, we made a simple, mask-like form in plasticine. We then used another soft, shiny metal – aluminium foil – to mould around this.
Dr Dave Wyatt then made a short presentation on Caerau hill fort and its place in Romanobritish culture to the group which prompted lots of lively discussion.
The session was finished off with the young people being offered the chance to handle some recent finds from the dig – some of which had been buried out of sight for over 2,000 years.
We are grateful to the staff and pupils of Woodlands School and Glyn Derw High School for making this a very special day.