Image: Loughor Tryst, Woodcut. Festival Print by William Brown.
Gorseinon Community Arts Festival was a short lived series of annual events but were important in allowing an opportunity to profile important artists and makers and to involve the local schools, businesses and community venues.
I was asked by Gorseinon Community Council to talk to them one evening to look at ideas for an event or series of events to celebrate the arts in the community. I had already admired the activities and exhibitions at Gorseinon Institute which had a small but well-appointed gallery and had made a friend in the local poet David Thomas, who at the time was manager at his family business at the Upper Crust Café in the High Street, a wonderful venue for poetry and small scale exhibitions. David and I had met when I was Community Arts Officer and thanks to David’s enthusiasm had started Gorseinon Poetry Initiative which brought a series of Poetry in Motion evenings into being, featuring poetry from the floor and a key performer, among them Gillian Clarke, Paul Henry, Nigel Jenkins and Ivor Thomas. The Poetry in Motion programme lasted for some years.
Let’s look at the Gorseinon Festival programme from 1994 as an example:
The main event took place the first week in July and saw a day of opportunity for the public to view and work with four artists and makers, Vivien Rhule, Fabric Painter, Denise Morgan, Weaver, Adrian Metcalf, Printmaker and Judith Rees, Calligrapher, with an exhibition by amateur, professional and young artists from the community at Penyrheol Theatre.
– Powys Dance, performance and youth workshops at Penyrheol Theatre.
– Poetry from the Floor, at the Upper Crust, led by David Thomas of Gorseinon Poetry Initiative.
– Drawing workshop at the Institute led by Artist John Uzzell-Edwards at the Institute.
– An Evening with Goff Morgan, One Man Show at the Institute.
– Drama and Music, featuring Casllwchwr Primary School, the Amatuer Dramatic Society and Llwchwr Choral Society, at Penyrheol Theatre.
– Verse and Jazz at The Mardy Hotel, with traditional jazz and poetry by Malcolm Parr, Jan Price, Lawmarie Champion and David Thomas, supported by the Arts Council for Wales.
And over the months of June and July:
– Poetry at Gorseinon Library.
– Paul Peter Piech, exhibition at The Institute.
– Contemporary Printmaking in Wales, at the Upper Crust. An exhibition curated by artist William Brown, which started its life at the Small Mansion Arts Centre, London toured to the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and various European venues.
And just a small and inadequate few words about Paul Peter Piech:
Paul was a quiet and unassuming man with a passionate heartfelt social conscience. It was a privilege to have known him and to have exhibited with him on many occasions. He was a wonderful champion of Wales and promoted the work of other creatives. It was a pleasure to see him hand-out his wonderful prints to prizewinning children during the Festival. A generous Soul.Keith Bayliss