Category Archives: Museums & heritage

Participatory Arts – Capturing The Learning, A Response From Kelly Barr, Arts and Creativity Programme Manger, Age Cymru

In response to the lockdown triggered by COVID-19, many arts organisations have taken their work online, sharing content for audiences to view for free. However, creating participatory engagement online is much more challenging and, as a sector used to being face to face with people in their practice, it’s clear that the current restrictions change the nature of participatory arts based activity substantially.

Following a vital conversation on social media led by Guy O’Donnell, Learning and Participation Producer, National Dance Company Wales which opened a discussion on how we can deliver participatory arts effectively, a range of partners are collaborating to lead Zoom discussions for the sector where we can talk about the impact of the lockdown on our work and work creatively together to think beyond the lockdown.

In partnership with ArtWorks Cymru a series of free Zoom meetings have been set up to discuss and share current working practices in participatory delivery.

Capturing the Learning

These Zoom meetings will explore how we capture the learning from organisations and artists who are currently delivering projects. We’ll explore what methods are working well, what are we learning through this experience, and how we are adapting our working practices.

Kelly Barr, Arts and Creativity Programme Manger
Age Cymru hosted the first Zoom participation meeting. The meetings are free to attend but numbers are limited. Kelly gives an overview of the work Age Cymru has created to meet the challenges and the companies solutions to support the public and her service users in the current climate.

Hi can you tell me a little about yourself and your organisation?

Hi, I’m Kelly Barr, and I am the Arts and Creativity Programme Manager at Age Cymru, who are the national charity for older people in Wales. I have been working on participatory arts projects with all sorts of organisations for 6 years, including NDCWales, Earthfall and the Sherman.

The two main arts projects here at Age Cymru are Gwanwyn Festival, an annual celebration of creative ageing which happens in May each year, and cARTrefu, the largest arts in care homes project in Europe.

We also run other projects throughout the year that might try to tackle isolation and loneliness (like our Gwanwyn Clubs), stereotypes of ageing or representation of older people.

Your organisation is hosting one of the free Participatory Arts – Capturing the Learning / Beyond the Lockdown meetings. Why do you agree to support these events?

I am in a very fortunate position to still be working at this time, and I felt like I had a responsibility to support conversations within the participatory sector. I saw many people reacting wonderfully quickly and adapting their practice, but I also recognised that that isn’t always an option, particularly with the groups of people that I work with. I have always believed that we have much to learn from each other so it was an ideal opportunity to do my bit to support some good practice sharing.

What challenges has lockdown present to the delivery of your service?

Gwanwyn Festival has often been about bringing people together, many of whom are in the high-risk category at the moment, so we made the decision fairly swiftly to postpone the festival.

We had a duty of care to protect the people that might attend the festival events, and those that are running them.The creative ageing sector is very supportive so I have been lucky enough to have regular chats with colleagues across the UK and Ireland (Gwanwyn Festival was inspired by Bealtaine Festival), so that we can support each other to think about how festivals like ours might work moving forwards.

We also knew early on that it was going to be difficult to continue to deliver the cARTrefu project, as care homes were starting to close their doors in early March. We’re lucky to have supportive funders who we will be able to work closely with as things progress. We have multiple scenario plans but are very much being led by what care homes want and need right now.

What issues have your service users/participants faced?

I’m really proud to be part of Age Cymru, as they have been able to adapt really quickly during the pandemic to ensure that older people in Wales are supported. We run an Information and Advice line, which received a 200% increase in calls at the start of the pandemic; people needed advice on whether they should be self-isolating or shielding, where they could get support with food shopping and collecting prescriptions. People have also struggled to access their money, and needed support to find new ways to stay in touch with family members. I’m pleased to say that we have been able to help, in partnership with our local Age Cymru partners, Age Connects and other voluntary services across Wales.

What systems did you put in place to ensure delivery?

Many of us are well-used to working from home, but it’s been really important to find moments to connect with colleagues. Many of us are spending most of our day making calls to older people through our Check In and Chat service, so it’s not always easy to have online ‘meetings’ as often as we used to have physical meetings. So we’ve set up Whatsapp groups, we send voice-notes, have catch-up phone calls, send pet pictures (in my case, plants!) as well as whole team Zoom and Microsoft Teams meetings. It’s ever changing and adapting!

With my specific work, it’s about being available to our partners and being flexible and open about the realities. We’ve been taking time as a team to think further ahead, and problem solve, and take any opportunities we can. We’re also keen to use Gwanwyn and cARTrefu Facebook, Gwanwyn Twitter and cARTrefu Instagram to promote creative opportunities for older people as far as we can.

Did you have any particular challenges or success that you would like to share?

Back in April, I, like many people who are in a position to, wanted to offer out informal chats to anyone interested in running creative ageing projects, or having to adapt current projects. I had no expectations of what would come from this, only that it felt like the right thing to do, but it’s introduced me to new practitioners and individuals, which has helped to build up my understanding of what’s happening in Wales. Many people I might have struggled to physically meet pre-lockdown, due to being based in Cardiff, I have been able to connect with over the phone. I hope to continue to offer this out and to meet more people – digitally!

What are your plans for future delivery?

We’re exploring a range of options at the moment, but we’ll be working closely with our Gwanwyn Festival event organisers to look at how this might be possible. There may be ways to replicate events online, or using social distance rules. I have no doubt that our event organisers are already coming up with innovative and interesting ways to continue to connect to people and I’m looking forward to working together to adapt and learn!

With cARTrefu, we are ensuring that we are listening to care homes, and being led by their needs right now. We have developed a fortnightly e-newsletter that gives care homes low-resource activities to try, and links to lots of online performances and activities from Age Cymru (like Tai Chi classes, now on our website) and other organisations.

I’m aware that we’re now regularly speaking to people that are more isolated, some of whom who aren’t connected to the internet, so a lot of my thinking has been about how to stay connected to them and to provide interactive creative opportunities that are offline.

I’d like to highlight Age Cymru’s Friend in Need service that has launched this week, and direct anyone to it if they’ve been supporting someone who is self-isolating or shielding through lockdown. There’s lots of useful guides and resources, as well as details of our new Befriending scheme – Friend in Need

A range of organisations have worked to continue delivery of their art form during lockdown are there any that you would like to mention that you found either professionally or personally useful?

I’d love to highlight the wonderful speakers from our first Participatory Arts Capturing the Learning Event:

Artis Community, Re-Live and Welsh National Opera.

And I’d love to shout out to all of the cARTrefu artists whose work has suddenly come to a grinding halt with us, but have been helping us to provide creative activities for care homes remotely.

Thanks for your time  Kelly

The meeting notes from Participatory Arts, Capturing the Learning – Older Peoples Zoom Meeting that Kelly hosted hosted on Thursday 28 May, can be found at the link


Jade Fox’s Marvellous Mini Galleries at National Museum Wales

Hi Jade great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

My name is Jade Fox and I am a 25 Year old Museum Assistant at National Museum Wales.

I am originally from Cheshire Warrington in England and I first moved to  Cardiff 10 years ago at the age of 15. I still remember the first time a walked through the doors of National Museum Wales, Cardiff. I was blown away by its size and beauty and I would have never imaged I would work in a place like that. I started my career at the Museum around 9 years ago when I first applied for a position as a catering assistant for Elior at St Fagans. I was successful but was told my personality suited the Cardiff Museum. I’m still not sure whether or not that was a compliment or not! Although I would describe myself as someone who is full of terrible dad jokes, I am definitely one of a kind. So this is where my journey began. I worked for around 5 to 6 years occasionally looking into a position as a Museum Assistant when I was finally approached and very gladly accepted. Now 4 years later and I’m still enjoying the wonders that the Museum has to offer.

 So, what got you interested in the Arts, Museums and Heritage?

I’ve always loved art and photography but I would be lying if I said I knew much about the Welsh Heritage or the arts collection that the Museum had to offer when I first moved to Cardiff but after some exploring that soon changed. My interest truly begun though when I started my role as a Museum Assistant. I was immediately  blown away by the collection and I knew I wanted to learn more, not just for myself but so I could offer the visitors of the Museum the best experience I could.  I used to spend my time reading up on the collections and listening to the tours. Everyday I learnt something new and everyday my love for the art and heritage grew. From the Davies Sisters collection to William Wynn Watkins there is just so much to explore and learn and I’m still learning today.

During Lockdown you are creating miniature galleries based on the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. Your photographs of your work are incredible! How did inspiration strike?

My inspiration actually came from a good friend of mine Laura. I’ve always been a crafty person but due to life and work I no longer have the time to explore that side of me. So what better time than now. I had recently posted a few images of some paintings I had worked on during the lock down. After seeing this Laura shared a post with me about someone who had created a small gallery for their pet Gerbil’s and suggested I give it a go.

Immediately my imagination went wild with all the things I could build and create in the Museum and how I was going to build it.

Can you describe your creative process with your miniature marvels?

Firstly I needed image’s from the gallery to build a plan on how I was going to achieve this. Unfortunately at this time the Museum is closed so I got access to the images through the National Museum of Wales website and the general internet. Now also due to being in lock down materials aren’t easy to come by at the moment so I used what I had to hand, A pizza box some masking tape and some old paints that had been hiding at the back of my wardrobe since the dawn of time. I firstly built the William Wynn Watkins organ to use as a size scale and bit by bit I built the reaming objects and paintings from a bit of cardboard, masking tape, paints and superglue in which there was many incidents.

Do you have a favourite gallery space and artwork at National Museum Wales?

It’s hard to choose a favourite gallery as I love them all. But I would say one of my favourites would be the landscape gallery which was the second model I created. Now in the landscape gallery you will find a painting by Manfred Uhlman called Welsh Mountains I would say this is one of my personal favourites. This piece stands out for me, The use of colours is incredible and it fills me with such warmth and joy as it reminds me of home.

If you were able to fund an area of the Arts and Heritage sector in Wales what would this be and why?

This is a very difficult question as there are so many areas of the arts and heritage sector that need funding and support, some of which I’m not aware of but the one that stands out for me though would be the learning sector with in the National Museum Wales. Its not just a museum but a place of learning for all. It would be amazing if we could only offer more to the general public and find ways of making it more accessible for all.

What excites you about Culture in Wales?

Wales is such a proud and passionate nation. I remember when I first experienced Saint Davids Day in Cardiff the streets were full of proud Welsh men, women and children they lit up the whole of Wales. I could feel the passion and even I felt proud. There is such a rich culture and history that surrounds Wales. This shown in the National Museums of Wales from St Fagan’s, National Museum of History, National Waterfront Museum, Big Pit National Coal Museum, National Slate Museum, National Wool Museum and the National Roman Legion Museum.

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

The last exciting thing I did? Well at the moment it’s getting up to make another cup of tea. On a serious note though, I would say the last exciting thing I did was when I visited my family back home in Cheshire. Myself and my dad dad took a trip to the Trafford Center to play mini golf. We missed several busses and totally got on the wrong train at one point but the laughs we had will always stay with me. I also won at mini golf twice which was defiantly a bonus!

Thanks for your time Jade.

Topt Tunes with Victoria Rogers

Hi Victoria,  great to meet you, can you tells us about yourself and your work?

Hello – I’m Victoria Rogers, the Manager of The Museum of Cardiff.  We’re the city history museum in the Old Library building in The Hayes.  We’ve only been open for 9 years, so in museum terms we’re a real new kid on the block.  I’ve been there right from the early days, when we were known as the Cardiff Museum Project and starting the first consultations about what the Cardiff public wanted their museum to be, way back in 2006. 

Before we opened, Cardiff had never had its own museum that told its own story, so getting the public involved was crucial.  They worked with us to co-create the museum and hundreds and hundreds of people were involved making the decisions about what stories to tell, what our galleries would look like and donating objects for the collection.

The museum is a real community focussed organisation – not just in the stories we tell but in all our activities.  I’m the strategic lead now, so I do a lot of fundraising and grant applications, and spend lots of time fostering new partnerships with organisations and community groups across the city and county so we can make sure more of Cardiff’s heritage and stories are celebrated.

 This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to? 

Ok, so the first thing to confess is that my musical taste is not at all credible.  My first record was Bucks Fizz (no joke!  Land of Make Believe…closely followed by If You Can’t Stand the Heat… I’ve still got them somewhere…) 

We’re speaking during the Covid-19 lockdown, so like a lot of people I’m working from home at the moment.  So actually, I’m listening a lot to the radio at the moment – partly for the music, partly for the company of a voice chatting to me in the corner of the room – BBC Six Music (not too bad) and Absolute ‘80s (not at all credible…embarrassingly so).  Music and singing have always been important to me and my family.  While my Grandfather was singing with the Pendyrus Male Voice Choir, I’m singing along to ‘80s cheesy pop while washing up…it’s honestly one of my favourite things to do.

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list five records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why? 

(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

My all-time favourite song.  No idea when I first heard it, where I would have been, or how old I was but I’ve loved it for a long time.  Just really like the image it conjures up of sitting and watching the sea, again, one of my favourite things to do. 

The Red and Blue albums by The Beatles

Yes, a total cheat this, it’s basically their greatest hits albums – too many great songs to choose from!  I grew up with The Beatles, singing along to them with my father form a big chunk of my childhood memories (he was a massive fan and his record collection was basically their albums and singles).  I used to love looking at these albums, I was mesmerised by the photos of the Mersey-beat Beatles on the Red album and the hippy-era Beatles on the Blue one.  I’m guessing I wasn’t old enough to have any real concept that they had been taken years apart.  I was just fascinated by how they looked like they were the same people but they looked so very different.

Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrissette

This is basically the soundtrack to my final year at University.  Wherever you went in the Student Village or on campus, you’d hear it coming from someone’s window.  It was released 25 years ago this year so I listened to it again not that long ago and it immediately transported me back to a year of spreading my wings, feeling independent for the first time, having my heart broken, fun (so much fun), having my heart mended, hopes and dreams for the future, meeting lifelong friends…

International Velvet by Catatonia

I’ve chosen this because it was the soundtrack to the year I spent in Nottingham doing my Museum Studies masters.  It was the height of Cŵl Cymru and this was my first experience of living out of Wales, so to this ex-pat, having Welsh bands like Catatonia on the radio, playing in bars, in my new friends’ CD collections was comforting and something I was really proud of.  Welsh music finally being recognised.  I’ve moved around a lot for my job and have lived in Nottingham, Somerset and Tyneside.  Music – my Catatonia, Manics and Stereophonics albums – were a big part of helping me feel I was holding on to my identity while living outside of Wales.

Funkanomics remix of Stevie Wonder’s Superstition

Almost as much as I love a good sing along, I love a good dance.  This is perfect – I love Stevie Wonder (who doesn’t?) and this remix is wonderful for feeling like you’ve got no other choice than to get up and get moving.  First heard at my local, The Globe in Cardiff, at Craig Charles’ Funk and Soul show.  It’s also my go-to motivation song in the mornings if I need an extra little something to get me feeling positive for the day ahead.

Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this? 

Let’s go with Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles from the Blue/Abbey Road albums.  Think it’s the little bit of positivity we all need at the moment!  And it really is excellent for singing along to…

REVIEW: Caerphilly Castle Visit with Time Credits by Sian Thomas

On January 10th, I took a trip to Caerphilly Castle. Having never been there before, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect – my knowledge of castles extends to, and ends with, Castle Coch and the sparing glance I give Cardiff Castle when j hustle passed it in the city centre. I paid four Time Credits (per person) to get in, and I’d say it was wholly worth it.

Arriving there was amazing, it was so much bigger than I thought, and all of the greenery and animals made it feel almost magical. The long stretching bridges and the reflection from the sun off the water in the moat in its glaring way was amazing; the cold day almost turned warm with how picturesque and summery the scene looked in front of me.

The castle itself was winding and really inviting, it leads you through it without you knowing it has. Every room connects to the other with its own feel of secrecy and intrigue. I found myself wondering more than once whether to go up or down a set of rocky, spiral stairs, where I’d end up on the other end of them and how I’d get back to go the opposite way, but that worry was hugely unnecessary as I was always lead back around to discover it all, whether I noticed the decision was made by my own feet or by the castle floors or not.

My favourite parts were the stretching balcony, almost like a corridor in its length but giving you a view of the greenery and moat on one side, and the courtyard below on the other side every few steps, the corridor that felt more like a cave; enveloping and private, and the very top of the towers (it was just a shame that some of the rock had eroded away enough for the actual top to be blocked off – but despite that, being at such a height in such a space of land was honestly incredible).

From the gift shop, I bought a small pink dragon. There was an area right where you start your trail where you can look into an enclosure from above and see a few dragon statues. They’re so bright in colour and give you honest piercings looks (the kind that make you think the eyes are following you).

Sian Thomas

Review The Snowman at The National Museum Cardiff by Rhian Gregory

I love that the National Museum, Cardiff is starting to put on more and more special events. It makes it even more exciting to go along to a trip to the museum. Museum entry is free, with some additional events requiring to buy a ticket beforehand.

I volunteered for the Museum Late Space. It was in evening after official closing time, with multiple entertainment, bar and drinks, DJ and music, lots of different acts on around the building and more! Great night! I noticed there is Museum Late Dippy Dino theme in January, early 2020. I may see if I can volunteer for that too.

Leading up to this Christmas, a weekend in December, the museum has been putting on the classic The Snowman screenings in the Reardon Smith Theatre, located on the side of the museum.

Walking down the side of the museum, I was a bit miffed at first as I saw steps and wasn’t sure how to get to the side door, eventually with some more st’roll’ing around the back of the museum, there was area with no steps to the Reardon Smith lecture theatre entrance. Maybe a sign would have made it more clearer.

We were greeted by cheery helpful staff, pretty lights and trees, and given a popcorn each. They also offered help to carry them to our seats which was very thoughtful. We were given white fluffy snowballs too, which they said to keep for a surprise at the end.

We went into a door that avoided the steps, that led to the very top of the lecture theatre which had an area for a few wheelchair users.

They made the atmosphere so cosy, blue lights to have that cool cold effect, and projected falling snow on the sides, Christmas music playing, on the stage they had it set up with a few Christmas trees and presents, with the big back screen where The Snowman would be shown.

I’m sure everyone enjoyed digging into their popcorn, a lovely space to watch the snowman, some giggles from children when the cat is scared of the snowman and when the snowman makes fruit faces. My children stood up and put their arms out for the ‘Walking in the Air’ song and scene, pretending to fly.

At the end they had a snowman come on stage for a snowball fight and photos.

Definitely a hit with the children and adults alike!

I look forward to more special events at the National Museum of Wales Cardiff.

Thank you for the complimentary tickets.

Theatre Company exports Welsh Hero

Welsh company Theatr na nÓg continue to innovate and increase awareness of Welsh Theatre! The company have just announced that they will present their original play “You Should Ask Wallace” in Indonesia.

The play tells the inspiring story of Alfred Russel Wallace, who was born in Usk and who left Wales in 1854 to document the diverse fauna, flora of the area in Indonesia now known as the Wallacea Region.

Ioan Hefin as Alfred Russel Wallace, credit Simon Gough.

The British Council has invited the award-winning Theatr na nÓg to take part in the Festival of Inspiration, Education and the Arts to celebrate the diversity of the Wallacea region. The Festival will be held in Makassar from the 22nd -28th of November 2019.

We asked the companies Artistic Director, Geinor Styles about the relevance of the work of Wallace today.

With the Welsh Government recently declaring a Climate Emergency the themes of this production seem especially relevant. What do your think Wallace might make of our Climate Emergency and organisations such as Extinct Rebellion if he was alive today?

I think he would definitely be part of Extinction Rebellion.

He was extremely aware of the impact man had on the environment, he certainly didn’t forsee the crisis we are in now. During the Industrial Revolution he was working in Neath as a surveyor for the railways , and although he had a love for nature and in particular beetles  he was conscious of the fact  that  “I was cutting up the land and beneath me a whole new universe teeming with life”.

Also whilst in Indonesia he explains that when he first discovered the King Bird of Paradise he describes it’s fate  as “should man ever reach these distant lands, we can be sure that he will disturb the balance of nature so that he will cause the disappearance, and finally extinction, of this creature.”

Paul Smith, Director of The British Council in Indonesia explained how delighted they are about the collaboration, “Here in Indonesia we are thrilled that the Welsh Wallace is returning to the Archipelago. In our Wallace Week in Sulawesi we are not just exploring biodiversity but also the cultural and ethnic diversities that Wallace encountered. Theatr na nÓg’s production will contribute greatly to the understanding and inspiration of young audiences along The Wallacea Line and we are thrilled that the company will transfer the production to local performers to ensure its own ‘sustainability’ here.

Each year Theatr na nÓg create original productions for over 5,000 young people which integrate live theatre performance with innovative creative learning resources. The organisation will be sharing their successful model of presenting theatre and education in workshops and symposiums in Makassar. The company is grateful to Wales Arts International and British Council Cymru for supporting this exciting opportunity.

Theatr na nÓg’s Artistic Director Geinor Styles said :- “It is an incredible opportunity for us to tell the Welsh story of Wallace to an area that celebrates and recognises this often forgotten scientist who co-discovered the theory of evolution with Charles Darwin, and to be here in the place where Wallace wrote the theory is inspirational.”

Styles together with actor Ioan Hefin, who originated the role of Alfred Russel Wallace, will not only perform the original play but will subsequently work with Indonesian actors and director to enable them to formulate their own version of the drama which they can continue to present to local audiences. “Our first performance of ‘You Should ask Wallace’ was in 2008. At the time I thought we were revisiting an important but forgotten historical figure. I now realise that ARW is very much a voice for today and tomorrow. He was, and still is, a visionary influence”

This terrific opportunity tops a great year for this small Neath based company where they started the year with another British Council invitation to present their hit musical “Eye of the Storm” in Hong Kong and which has just completed a UK tour captivating audiences and receiving rave reviews.

Radio Rhondda Visits The Rhondda Fach By Ann Davies

Music echoed around the valley, the time had come. Radio Rhondda had come to the Rhondda Fach with its supporters and volunteers. The hills surrounding the area, nestled between the villages of Tylorstown and Ferndale were alive with the sounds of people enjoying themselves as the music reached out on the airwaves. Community radio had come to the communities of the Rhondda Fach.

A beautiful sunny day, the pleasant and atmospheric venue of the Scoops & Smiles Diner/Parlour in Oakland Terrace which had been the premises of the former Lockyer and Pacey Garage and forecourt.   How many cars had been bought or stopped to refuel there over the years? Present day traffic hooted as they drove past; water fountains were available to all (as were toilet facilities) plus a cool area inside the Diner or at the rear of the building.

Colourful balloons adorned the area provided by ‘Just for you’ of Ferndale, there were stalls offering information on Cancer Research and Dwr Cymru/Welsh Water as they continue their essential work throughout the area renewing water pipes. Representatives from the Police were also present. The central part of the programme was the Official launch of Radio Rhondda in the Rhondda Fach, which was performed by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Susan Morgans (Ferndale Ward) and Councillor Jack Harries (Maerdy Ward).  The diner offered all the delights and descriptive flavours of ice cream in cones and tubs – marshmallows on crepes – plus their usual food fare. Children dug deep into sweet bottles that were offered to them, finding themselves lucky to receive various extra goodies. Face painting with the logo of the station was available. Free key rings and notices promoted the event. A Raffle was held with prizes donated by local businesses.

Commentators promoted the Radio station, introducing their main programme holders and interviewing local people. There was a miscellany of music provided by their own presenters, including Lorraine Jones and a chat about gardening from Terry Walton. Musical compositions were provided by the group Fiddlers Elbow (where were you, Gerhard Kress?) The Arts Factory Ferndale duo of Ben and Louise provided a melody of songs which received phone calls from people who knew them having tuned into the station. Thanks and appreciation to Louise for mentioning our group RCT Creative Writers.

It was a warm day, which offered entertainment and conversations with people who soon became friends. Sun cream and Sunhats were the essential requirements on this day.

Thank you to Radio Rhondda and all who supported and volunteered for this event. Please come again.

Perhaps like WAM (Mike Church) and Voices from the Bridge (Rob Cullen) you should go “On Tour”  People in the Rhondda Fach are friendly and creative persons although we often feel forgotten!

Free Drama Workshops to celebrate 50 years of Llanover Hall

You can listen to an audio version of the written information below using Sound Cloud below.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Llanover Hall and Arts for All we have an opportunity for eight blind or partially sighted people to take part in a series of six unique drama workshops to be led by John Rowley (Brith Gof, Forced Entertainment, National Theatre Wales) and visually impaired artist Lou Lockwood.

The workshops will commence on Wednesday July 10th from six thirty till eight pm. The venue is Llanover Hall Arts Centre, Romily Road, Canton, Cardiff, continuing each Wednesday for five weeks.

The workshop on Wednesday 14th August will be followed by a presentation of the work to an invited audience. No experience is necessary. Observers and supporters are welcome to participate or observe. To book your place please contact Chris Durnall at the email below

cadurnall@googlemail.com

Review The Patient Assassin, Anita Anand by Judi Hughes



10 April 2019 saw the centenary of the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab, an event that I had never heard of until I read Anita Anand’s insightful and brilliantly written book The Patient Assassin published by Simon & Schuster.

I really appreciated her fascinating account of events that gave me knowledge of a part of British history that I hardly knew existed. Put simply it’s about an heroic deed that avenged a horrific act, but it is so much more than that.  

I knew little of any of the history of British rule in India despite growing up in Leicester, a city where people from many parts of the Indian subcontinent live. I went to school in the 60s when the history I was taught was very white, very British and full of propoganda. It wasn’t until I was older that I began to find out more about the dark past of British Colonialism.

The book is set during the rule of the British Raj and concentrates specifically on the intriguing life of Udham Singh, from his experience of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919 to his death by hanging for the assassination in London of Michael O’ Dwyer, the former lieutenant governor of the Punjab in India, in 1940. Udham, with his eye constantly on the prize, lived his life in many places, with stolen identities and in subterfuge for over 20 years until he was able to accomplish his goal.

I can’t tell you more because you have to read the book to discover this well told story which affected so many lives, meticulously researched and brought to life by Anita Anand.

This story for her has a personal perspective as her grandfather survived the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh. At her own admission she struggled to distance herself from it, yet she wrote it with a graceful objectivity that allows the reader to hold final judgement. Anita Anand is an accomplished author who I had only known previously as the presenter of Any Questions. I highly recommend this book and will definitely be moving on to more of her works. @tweeter_anita congratulations on  this great book.

Review ‘The Return/Y Dychweliad’ Re-Live by Kiera Sikora

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Re- Live’s new theatre show ‘The Return/Y Dychweliad’ is a moving, courageous composition of sadness, truth, celebration and sacrifice.

It begins at St Fagan’s Museum entrance where we are taken on a welcoming walk to Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, listening to various accounts of the thoughts and memories of the people connected to Oakdale. They tell us of the beauty of ‘devouring books’ from the library which was a rarity then, the joy of choc-ice treats and how Oakdale invited a ‘thirst for knowledge’ in the Institute.


We then reach the Oakdale’s Workmen’s Institute where (after a lovely cuppa tea) we are thrown into a World War I Victory Ball in 1919. The bunting is up, the tea is flowing, the Bara Brith is out and we are entertained with song, story and striking truths of what it was to be a soldier, a friend, a woman and a mother during The First World War. We are shown the thrill of the beginning of war, and the heartache it created during a time when so much was unknown medically about the after affects of battle and sacrifice.


The piece moves through dialogue, solo performance, touching physical imagery and choral singing with a nod for the audience to join in on a few wartime tunes. And there’s the beauty of Re-Live right there. Yes, it’s a show, a performance, but it’s a cwtch too. A really important, poignant, ‘so glad to be home’ kind of cwtch. The cast open their arms to you, smile at you, pour their hearts out to you and allow you to feel something about how they feel and have felt. Re- Live’s mission is to work with communities and to tell stories and truths from their lives and ‘Y Dychweliad’ is a beautiful shower of these things. These stories, this history, the effect war has on people around us and still has to this day are subjects that we must talk about. If we don’t talk about these things, if we don’t remember the history of our times,  and the affects it has on us still- will they be lost? Will we learn? Will future generations know these wonderful, war time songs, even?



Karin Diamond and the team have created a gorgeous concoction of story, song, music and poetry and a beautiful memory for all that see the show. The production ends as fuelled as it begins, with a personal poem ‘Mother Wales’ written by one of the cast- which makes your heart beam. The thankful, heartfelt, emotional response at the post show discussion is unforgettable. Talks from the cast about their own experiences, and how much support we must continue to provide for our Veterans is integral.

One of the cast said ‘ Once you leave for war, and go over there, coming back is.. alien. You’re petrified. You come home. But you’re never the same.’ Reading through the Oakdale information book, one Veteran writes (of working with Re-Live) ‘The project has saved me because it’s given me something to look forward to, it’s given me a purpose again. It helps me control my anxiety too. This is the one place I can come where I know I won’t be judged.’

And that’s Re-Live. Sharing words and feelings from people, to people and for people. With the utmost care, gratitude and heart. ‘Keep the Homes Fires Burning’, indeed. 



‘The Return/Y Dychweliad’ runs from 14-16 March/Mawrth, 

Oakdale Workmen’s Institute, St Fagan’s National Museum of History/ Sefydliad Y Gweithwyr Oakdale, Sain Ffagan Amgueddfa Werin Cymru