Thursday, 1 November 2012

A Word From Graham...

Graham Parker

Two years ago, Swansea artists Graham Parker and Sylvie Evans co-founded 15 Hundred Lives – a Swansea based, contemporary arts group bringing accessible, contemporary visual art right into the heart of the City and County of Swansea and its diverse communities. It was logical, therefore, for Sylvie and Graham to work together in Swansea assisting artist Catrin Webster and historian and archaeologist Elena Isayev on the initial community-based Future Memory in Place project.
Both Sylvie and Graham were deeply committed to and actively involved with the Future Memory in Place project from start to finish. They worked alongside Catrin and Elena and relished the opportunity to engage with Swansea’s diverse communities in a project which enabled art and archaeology to collide. They were delighted to be successful in their joint application as artist interns for phase-two of the project, where they have again been working alongside Catrin and Elena, Ceri and Andrew, the projects archaeologists interns, and Steph Mastoris, Head of the National Waterfront Museum.
Sylvie brings a wealth of educational and creative talent to the project. Much of her artwork incorporates views of Swansea. Using her own photographs and experiences of familiar places, both picturesque and social, she deconstructs and reconstructs the traditional representation of a place; photomontage techniques allow her to play with scale and perspective, to remove and add alternative structures into the landscape to create new spaces. Confronted with the seemingly familiar where everything is not always as it first appears, the viewer thus begins to question reality. As a former head-teacher, Sylvie is well placed to ensure that educational activities, arising from both the artistic and archaeological parts of the project, link into the National Curriculum documentation so that schools will use the activities in the long-term.
Abstract in style, Graham’s current body of work is derived from, and conceived as a result of, stimuli from the real urban, coastal and rural environment, and the inner landscape of his imagination and life experience.
He uses the exceptional physical qualities of paint, his chosen medium, to full effect, allowing his creativity to run unrestrained, producing fluid, organic forms, full of movement and bursting with colour. The results have an immediacy and authenticity that incorporate ethereal, harmonious, wholeness, and stark, grounded, imagery.
Abandonment and control work in a glorious juxtaposition of visual lyricism and emotional tension in these vibrant paintings.
Graham will be staging site-specific art events, enabling opportunities for learning and engagement with the National Waterfront Museum’s recently installed Tessera Hospitalis sculpture and the project Future Memory in Place, which created it. These events, which are planned for late 2012 / early 2013, will include a series of memory-maps and audio/video interventions capturing people’s sense and memory of Swansea.
These exciting and interactive public engagement activities around the themes of memory, place and identity will culminate in a permanent interactive, audio component to the Museum’s Tessera Hospitalis sculpture and plaque.


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

An update from Sylvie

Hello! My name’s Sylvie Evans and I’m one of the interns working on this exciting Future Memory in Place project. It’s great because, although we are working on different areas, we’re all able to work collaboratively as a team to share our skills, knowledge and experiences in this group project.
For my part, I’m a final year Fine Art student at Swansea Metropolitan University with a particular interest in large scale photomontage. I was lucky enough to first work with Catrin Webster and Elena Isayev in 2011 on the Future Memory in Place project which involved local schools and communities in Swansea. Graham Parker, one of the other interns, was also involved with that and we are both students on the same degree course; we’ve also exhibited work together and share a website, so we decided to submit a joint application for the internship.
I’m a mature student and, in my former career, I worked as a head teacher, spending thirty years in primary education. When I moved to Swansea 5 years ago, I decided to return to formal learning but this project has given me the opportunity to work with others, both as an artist and in schools. I particularly enjoyed the painting of the ‘blues’ and the postcards that we did with the children and loved it when the children’s faces lit up as they handled authentic ancient artefacts from the Etruscan period.
In September, I was lucky enough to be able to visit Tarquinia, near Civitavecchia and Rome in Italy, which is home to one of the best archaeological museums housing Etruscan artefacts in the world, as well as the amazing ‘Big Mounds of the Etruscan necropolis’ … but I’ll tell you more about that later!


Monday, 1 October 2012

First Things First...

Hello and welcome to our new Phase 2 Blog. Phase 1 can still be seen here.

This Phase is being undertaken by four interns: Andrew, Ceri, Graham and Sylvie; we will all introduce ourselves a little bit later on. We were challenged with the task of developing public engagement activities in relation to the Tessera Hospitalis art installation.  A call went out for archaeologists, ancient historians and artists who felt they were up to the task and here we are.

The main tasks were these:

  • Define and oversee the creation of the plaque to accompany the sculpture
  • Identify opportunities for learning and engagement with the sculpture
  • Create hands on interpretative material and activities for visitors and school pupils
  • Test ‘mock up’ activities on the public and school pupils before making the final version
  • Create information for the Museum Web Site and any Museum leaflets and maps
  • Submit the final material and write a short report

Before we all tell you what exciting things we have been up to, we thought it was best to introduce new readers to the project and refresh the memories of long term followers. The Future Memory and Place Project has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Beyond Text Projects. This wider project aims to produce historical research through non traditional means, through incorporating art and music; more detailed information can be found here.

So what exactly was a Tessera Hospitalis?

The ancient Tessera Hospitalis is a small unique token made of ivory, metal or clay, which could be in any shape, such as a lion, boar, ram, gecko or an abstract symbol.  It was made in two parts, each friend keeping half as a promise of friendship and as a marker of identity to be presented next time they, or their children, met. This modern sculpture is an interpretation of the ancient Tessera and what it represents. It is not static but mobile, as it is only one half of the whole. Each shape has been uniquely created by a pupil from one of the 9 Swansea schools that took part in the Future Memory in Place Project - Cila, Cwm Glas, Cwmrhydyceirw, Dylan Thomas, Hendrefoilan, Morriston, Parkland, Sea View and St. Helens, as well as other members of the Swansea community. Each of them is now the guardian of their Tessera which links them to this monument and the moment of its creation.

Why are they important?

In the ancient world people kept up their connections in different ways to the way we do today; the world was in many ways a much bigger place, so the bonds of friendship needed different tools, rather than for example Facebook, to be used.  With no photography, phones or internet, it is hardly surprising that maintaining distant friendships was hard.  Now, if we meet someone when visiting a new place, we have numerous methods of communication, so we do not need a symbolic item to maintain contact with friends from distant shores.  The Tessera Hospitalis was inherited with each generation continuing the bonds of friendship, resulting in there being friendly faces across the Mediterranean World. Thanks to archaeology we know this custom occurred and, through this project, we are celebrating that the world is still a connected and inspiring place.  A place can mean a million different things to a million different people: a photo, song or smell can take us right back to significant times in our lives and this is what was contained within the exchange of Tesserae.  This project truly identifies that many principles of the ancient world remain today; the Tessera Hospitalis installation serves as a means of connecting those two worlds and all who travel within them.

We are starting our own journey…a journey of discovery; it is likely to have many highs and lows along the way and they will shape our outcomes.  We would all love you to join us on our trip by following our posts and adding to them with your ideas, stories and, who knows, maybe you will even create the odd Tessera Hospitalis along the way.

Bye for now, but happy travelling

The Phase 2 Interns