1,000 Colours Blue

Events celebrate shared experiences of place

A day of eclectic events in Swansea will mark the culmination of a major project on how people relate to the places where they live, or have lived in the past and the journeys between them, real and imagined.

The Future Memory in Place project, led by University of Exeter historian and archaeologist Dr Elena Isayev and Welsh artist Catrin Webster, sought to identify people’s shared experiences of a place.

On Saturday 1 October, people in Swansea will experience the outcomes of the research involving over 2,500 local school pupils.

These will include the unveiling of a new sculpture, Tessera Hospitalis, at the National Waterfront Museum, a choral performance of 1,000 Colours Blue in the Castle Gardens and an exhibition of 800 postcards and art works at Oriel Bach, Mumbles.

Pupils from Dylan Thomas School, Morriston Comprehensive, Cwm Glas and St Helens Primary School and other schools around Swansea were involved in the six-month project looking at how what we all share about a place can be expressed in art. This was achieved through landscape painting and research on migration and the ancient world to explore how people relate to the place where they live or have lived.

Dr Elena Isayev of the University of Exeter said: “The aim is to create an experimental project to explore alternative ways of understanding place, not simply as a territory, but also in our interactions and imagination. The historic port city of Swansea provides a perfect environment to explore and create alternatives meanings of place throughout the day of events where ancient history meets contemporary life through various art forms.”

She added: “With the school groups and members of the community we used art alongside stories, manuscripts, uncharted maps, and music as a means of capturing our fragmented experience of place and drawing on the highly mobile ancient world. This is supported by Catrin Webster’s groundbreaking landscape paintings and drawings. The result was a programme of activities that culminated in a number of artistic creations from a sculpture based on friendship, a musical performance using 1,000 shades of blue to an exhibition of postcards.”

The sculpture Teressa Hospitalis is a large steel monument made up of hundreds of mobile pieces and based on an ancient symbol of friendship that lasted over long distances and generations. School pupils used 2,500 year-old tokens of long-distance friendship items and scenes from ancient comedy to make up the basis of the sculpture at the Waterfront Museum.

The second element of the project was inspired by the landscape of the Swansea Marina. School pupils collected different shades of the colour blue to explore representations of places and journeys. The outcome is the performance of 1,000 Colours Blue in the Castle Gardens, orchestrated by University of Exeter music director Marion Wood and overtone singer Micheal Ormiston. Painted cards with various shades of blue are used as a special kind of musical score. The performance of 1,000 Colours Blue will use the projection of the BBC Big screen in Swansea city centre.

The third section arose from the many connections of the participants with places around the world. These ongoing links are the foundation for 800 Swansea skyline postcards, made by local children and, having been sent around the UK, now returned to Swansea for a final exhibition at Oriel Bach, Mumbles.

Lin Fry from Dylan Thomas Community School said: “Our students created journey maps, acted as investigators with ancient artefacts, drew large scale world maps, real and imaginary. Many of the students that participated are continuing to work creatively on ideas that have directly followed on from the mapping workshop. Having the opportunity to watch a real artist in action was an invaluable experience and the finished canvas was the topic of much discussion.”

The Future Memory in Place project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council ‘Beyond Text’ research programme and the Arts Council Wales.

Date: 30 September 2011

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