As we move into the Autumn proper, I thought it would be a fitting time to give a bit of a round-up of some of my personal favourite moments so far in our Unloved Heritage? journey. It’s been a busy spring and summer, and young people from different parts of Wales have been out and about, exploring their heritage and learning all sorts of new skills.
Back at the beginning of the summer, we were delighted to welcome three different Unloved Heritage? groups to the Dinas Silica Mine where we had an adventurous scramble up the waterfall, explored the disused mine and learnt about photography in low-light levels. Our young people produced some AMAZING photos and were even featured in ‘Descent’ magazine! https://www.facebook.com/Gwentcavers/photos/a.778641572182244/1793479610698430/?type=3&theater Thank you a million times to the Gwent Caving Club for making the day possible. See you next season?
A (very literal) highlight for our Llanelli group was the chance to take to the skies in a light aircraft and take some aerial photographs. Despite some nerves (the plane is, after all, really very small!) everyone had a flight over Pembrokeshire on a scorching day and took some fabulous images. One of our participants even got to take the rudder and fly the plane for a short while. (No. We’re not jealous. Honest). Not to be outdone, our Dyffryn Nantlle group have been up in a helicopter, looking at the landscape of the slate industry from the air in order to understand the size and scale. Amazing.
Another summer adventure was our trip to the Royal Welsh Show. Four of our groups staffed the ‘Unloved Heritage?’ stand, taking selfies, talking to visitors about the project and collecting their feedback. It was great to see the confidence growing in our participants as they realised people really were interested in listening to all that they have to say, and wanted to find out more about what we’re up to. They even coped with camping, and found their way around the massive showground to enjoy some of what the Royal Welsh has to offer. Hats off, guys – brilliant job!
There’s been so much going on that it’s difficult to know when to stop writing about it. I could mention the Blaenrhondda group carrying out their own archaeological excavation, the Ceredigion off-limits? group helping restore mine machinery, and the Swansea group launching their Urban Skateboarding project. Then there’s the brilliant exhibitions of young people’s artworks and activities in both north and south Wales, and the artist-in-residence in Ceredigion. There’s a new, comfy community room in Welshpool for local groups to use, and there’s been stone-painting, behind-the-scenes archives trips and residentials in stately homes. Unloved Heritage? participants have skateboarded, visited, photographed and coasteered. They’ve cycled, surveyed, acted and explored. Most importantly they’ve taught us, the project staff, so much about how they think about heritage and what matters. It’s been a blast.
I need to make a very special mention of the Llanelli group who’ve been the first group to receive Arts Award certificates recognising their brilliant work this year. Well done!
And finally – as I write this, I’m up to my neck in preparations for Youth Voice, happening next weekend. https://www.arts.wales/143317 Youth Voice is a very special, first-ever event really celebrating the impact that culture and heritage can have on young people’s lives. But don’t just take my word for it – the presentations at the event will all be led by the young people themselves, and visitors will be able to look at some of their achievements in a special two-day exhibition. Unloved Heritage? is represented by our Ceredigion, Llanelli and Blaenrhondda groups and we couldn’t be more pleased to be involved. There are still a few spaces left, and it’s FREE – so please do book and come along. I’m so excited that we can play a big part in this fabulous event, and I can’t wait to update you all about it afterwards.