Last year Ariana Jordao and myself hosted five artists in residence at the Centre for Alternative Technology, enabling them to come up with a creative response to the considerable archive of oral history interviews collected through the Voices from a disused quarry project, now archived at the National Library of Wales. Two of the artists – Christine Mills and Carlos Pinattii – collaborated to create an art installation based around a table tennis table, which they named Receive and Return. We receive from the earth so we must also return something to the earth (in the sense of giving something back). On Friday we were extremely pleased to attend an event in a Bangor shopping centre where five students of composition at Bangor University presented five different musical pieces based around the themes in Receive and Return as part of Bangor Music Festival. I’ll post more about it next week and put some photos up but whilst its fresh in mind I just wanted to note that Receive and Return has taken an interesting creative journey. The central element – a map of the world – was first created in a three day workshop working with clay and plaster moulds, before being digitalised and layered as a piece of vinyl on to a table tennis table and given a surround sound video accompaniment. And now the piece has a musical layer to it. The creative process can unfold in many different directions and I wonder where it will go next but this idea of starting something in the very physical world of clay and plaster and continuing it in the spiritual world of music is very interesting. One student created a piece using instruments and the table itself, with two players playing a game in time with the music. I could picture this on a grander scale with a ping pong table in a concert hall in Wales and a full orchestra.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve blogged but I’m happy to say that I’m kickstarting the blog again. My life has changed quite a bit in the last two years. I’ve moved house so there won’t be any more posts about my steep shady garden looking over the flood plain of the Dyfi valley. I’m now living with four friends in a housing co-op in Machynlleth with a big garden and lots of life, both human, animal and plant. Incredibly its south facing with a big open aspect, and we’ve got raised beds and a polytunnel to grow in. But a lot of other things have changed in my life too and I want to reflect this in the blog.
During the last three years I have been working on an oral history project about the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT). You can find out more about this at http://archive.cat.org.uk For the last few months I have been writing a book about the project Voices from a disused quarry – an oral history of the Centre for Alternative Technology. This will be published and launched towards the end of May.
So although there may well be blogs about gardening in the future it’s also likely that I’ll be posting about oral history, politics, arts, theatre, environmental change, environmental history, swing dancing (a significant passion!), co-op living and any other subject I think people might be interested in knowing about. So come back and join me soon. All the best, Allan
And that was the start is the name we’ve given to the first CAT Oral History Project podcast, telling the story of the first year of CAT through the voices of the people who were there at the time. The podcast includes the voices of local people who saw this strange group of people arrive in the Dyfi Valley and some of the workers and volunteers who started the work of transforming the disused quarry. Have a listen here.
Dewch draw i un o’n digwyddiadau hanes llafar ym mis Ionawr. Bydd pob digwyddiad yn cynnwys arddangosfeydd, perfformiad sain a chyfle i recordio eich hanner awr eich hun o hanes gydag un o’n gwirfoddolwyr sydd wedi’u hyfforddi ym maes hanes llafar.
Cysylltwch â firstname.lastname@example.org 01654 705978 am fwy o fanylion.
Dydd Iau, Ionawr 17eg 4yh–9yh Caffi’r Chwarel, Machynlleth Bydd bwyd a diod ar gael
Dydd Sadwrn, Ionawr 19eg 11yb–3yp Canolfan Owain Glyndŵr, Machynlleth Bydd lluniaeth ar gael
Dewch draw unrhyw bryd!
For the past six months I’ve been engaged on an incredibly interesting oral history project about the Centre for Alternative Technology. Next week sees the first fruits of the project launched in Machynlleth, a temporary exhibition and podcast revealing the origins of CAT. Over 15 volunteers and myself have interviewed over 70 people so far, with more to follow, and the process has been absolutely fascinating. This is one of the most interesting things I’ve done in my career, as I’ve personally had the opportunity to interview 30 people. Oral history builds unexpected links between people and provides space for people to have their story heard. This project has revealed many hidden stories about CAT and the people who made it. I’ll post the link to the podcast here next Thursday. Meanwhile check out the details of the events by clicking here and by looking on my news and dates page. I’ll be posting more about the project in the coming months.
The Centre for Alternative Technology will be 40 years old next year. To commemorate, celebrate and investigate its history we are looking for up to 10 local volunteers to help create the CAT Oral History project. Each volunteer will receive oral history training from the British Library (given at CAT) and will interview at least four people. In total the oral histories of at least 80 people will be recorded and then delivered to the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, where they will be made available to the public. Oral history projects are very rewarding experiences for interviewees and interviewers; they provide participants with a unique connection to the past. All the oral histories we record during the project will contribute to a history book and during the project we hope to explore possible future projects to bring CAT’s past to life, perhaps through local events and performance. Join us in this unique project. Contact me by leaving a comment via the blog and I’ll get back in touch. The CAT oral history project is supported by GLASU.
Come to CAT on wednesday 29th August and enjoy the Arts and Sustainability Fair. I’ll be reading from Curious Incidents in the Garden at Night-time, my book about moths, climate change and evolution, and also (probably) hosting a sustainable swing dance lesson. There’s loads of different things happening during the day so come over and enjoy.