CAER Studio November Review

CAER Studio Christmas Market Stall featuring CAER Times, ceramics by Dylan Sutton and lino-cut prints by residents of Caerau and Ely. Photo by Nicola Parsons.

November was another exceptionally busy and productive month for CAER Studio with a number of fresh creative workshops for local young people and our fantastic Christmas Market Stall in central Cardiff – read on to find out more!

Iron Age illustration workshop at Coed y Goff with Mark Alexander and Nicola Parsons. Photo by Nicola Parsons.

Illustration workshops with Mark Alexander and Nicola Parsons

November got off to a great start with a series of fantastic illustration workshops with illustrator Mark Alexander and CAER Studio artist Nicola Parsons. Mark and Nicola worked with Coed Y Goff Primary school and a separate group of young people facing mental health challenges.

During these workshops our young artists made drawings based on iconic Iron Age imagery and designed a lively ‘Iron Age Alphabet’ – further developing a theme that we originally trialled at the Hidden Hillfort Ideas Jam at Cardiff West Community High School (see July Review).

Cob ‘Roundhouses’ by pupils from Coed Y Goff. Photo by Becci Booker.

Cob ‘Roundhouses’

In mid-November CAER Studio artists Becci Booker and Imogen Higgins led this great little ‘messy-play’ workshop with Year 3 pupils from Coed Y Goff primary school. Using cob – a natural building material made from a mixture of clay, earth and straw – the young artists modelled engaging little sculptures based on our iconic ’roundhouse’ theme. The huts even had a realistic topping of straw!

We were very lucky to have beautiful bluebird skies on the day of the workshop, which allowed Becci to take this fantastic picture of the children’s roundhouses.

‘Roundhouses for Bees and Bugs’ by Dylan Sutton – on display at the CAER Studio Christmas Market Stall.

The CAER Studio Christmas Market Stall

On 20th November the CAER Studio Christmas Market Stall opened to the public. On sale was our full range of CAER Studio products – brainstormed, designed and developed over the course of the year. This included our artists commissions: charming soft axes by Becci Booker, powerful ceramic pieces by Imogen Higgins and Dylan Sutton and the beautiful ‘Iron Age Weave’ by Nicola Parsons.

Also on sale were a fantastic selection of lino-cut prints created by local people during our workshop with guest artist John Abell, ‘Iron Age’ finger puppets, terracotta ‘Roundhouses for Bees and Bugs’ by Dylan Sutton, and some charming little ‘Roundhouse Tea Lights’.

Along with CAER Studio artists the stall was manned by ACE staff, Cardiff University historians and community/university volunteers who gave out FREE copies of our special publication CAER Times – and engaged visitors in lively discussions about the amazingly rich archaeological and historical heritage of Caerau and Ely.

The stall was open for 5 days and during that time we had an astonishing response – over 230 people visited and we sold over £130 worth of stock!

Many thanks to our Cardiff University volunteers Stella and Kaitlin, community volunteers Helen, Frankie and Chantelle and ACE staff Caroline, Stacie and Dave for manning the stall and helping to make this such a huge success.

A small selection of the 60 mosaics created in our workshops at Cardiff West Community High School.

Mosaics Workshops at Cardiff West Community High School

We finished November on a very colourful note with a series of 6 mosaics workshops at Cardiff West Community High School.

Working with mosaic artist Andrew Heath and CAER Studio artists Becci Booker and Imogen Higgins, pupils from Hywel Dda, Trelai, Pencaerau and Millbank primary schools – along with two groups of young people from Cardiff West Community High school – created individual pieces informed by their understanding of heritage. Some of the young people decided to use the examples of Iron Age art that they were provided with as inspiration, some chose to draw on personal memories and references including family heirlooms and figures from the past.

The workshops resulted in 60 individual small mosaics that will be installed in the new build school at the site of Glyn Derw High School, Ely in February 2019. This visually stunning installation will represent not only the 60 young artists who took part (many of whom will be heading to the new school when it opens) but the community as a whole and the exemplary partnership working that has led to the creation of this extraordinary building.

We hope that the installation will serve as a constant reminder to pupils and staff of the outstanding heritage of Caerau and Ely – a vibrant, living legacy that will be present in the mind each and every day.



CAER Studio October Review: Part 2

October has been an exceptionally busy and productive month for CAER studio – so much so in fact that we’ve had to spread this review across two blog posts! Here’s the second of these, which covers the CAER Art Prize exhibition (part of Youth Voice at St Fagans) and several workshops that took place between 27th and 31st of October.

If you missed the first post then you can catch up here!

Eve Callard, winner of the CAER Art Prize with Rt Hon Lord Daffyd Elis-Thomas AM at Youth Voice, St Fagans.

27th October: CAER Studio Art at Youth Voice

All 12 entries to the CAER Art Prize were displayed at St Fagans National Museum of History | National Museum Wales as part of the fantastic Youth Voice event. Eve Callard, winner of first prize, helped CAER Studio Director Paul Evans and the artist John Abell to curate the show, directing the final stages of hanging the exhibition. Eve also attended the event on Saturday 27th October where she received lots of praise for her winning painting and met Minister for Culture Dafydd Elis-Thomas. The Youth Voice event was co-curated and delivered by young people, working with cultural bodies including Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, Arts Council Wales, Cadw, Literature Wales and others. Youth Voice movingly demonstrated the powerful impact that actively designing and participating in cultural and heritage events, exhibitions, and projects can have.

Further information on the CAER Art Prize (including a full list of winners) can be found here and here.

Shadow puppet making workshop at Dusty Forge – puppet created by Charlotte Taylor.

30th October: Shadow Puppet Workshop at Our Place: Dusty Forge

Led by CAER Studio guest artist Charlotte Taylor, young people visiting Our Place: Dusty Forge created scenery and characters to feature in our forthcoming film ‘Hidden: A Puppet Guide to Caerau Hill Fort’. The shadow puppet scenes will undergo further development with participants from People’s First group and regulars at the Monday morning art sessions at Our Place: Dusty Forge over the next few weeks.

Creating artefact-inspired jewellery at Cardiff Story Museum.

31st October: Halloween Happening at Cardiff Story Museum

CAER Studio artists Nicola Parsons and Imogen Higgins worked with visitors to the Cardiff Story Museum, creating archaeologically inspired jewellery in air-dried clay. Their work drew inspiration from a display of locally discovered artefacts – dating from the Bronze Age, Iron Age and the period of Roman occupation – that have been chosen and curated by students from The Hidden Histories of Caerau and Ely, a free course run by Cardiff University’s Live Local Learn Local programme in collaboration with the CAER Heritage Project.


CAER Studio October Review: Part 1

An entire clan of ‘Iron Age’ finger puppets!

October has been an exceptionally busy and productive month for CAER studio – so much so that we’ve had to spread this review across two blog posts! Here’s the first post, which covers several workshops devised and led by CAER Studio artists between 8th and 21st of October.

The second post will follow soon so please stay tuned

Iron Age weaving at Pencaerau Primary School.

October 8th & 18th: Iron Age Weaves at Pencaerau Primary School

CAER Studio artists Nicola Parsons and Becci Holmes led a fantastic workshop with the Pencaerau Primary School parent group in which participants were led on a journey of discovery into Iron Age spinning, felting and weaving. Participants created their own beautiful weaves using traditional methods, fibres and natural dyes including woad!

October 8th: Finger Puppet Character Workshop at Our Place: Dusty Forge 

Becci Holmes also led a wonderfully imaginative workshop with regular participants from the ACE (Action in Caerau and Ely) Arts Group, creating incredibly cute ‘Iron Age’ finger puppet characters.

CAER Studio Linocut Print Workshop – work in progress at Made in Roath.

October 21st: Linocut Print Workshop at Made in Roath

On October 21st CAER Studio went on tour to faraway Roath Park!

CAER Studio artists Becci Holmes and Imogen Higgins were joined by special guest artist John Abell, collaborating on a lino-cut printing workshop based on heritage themes and patterns from Caerau and Ely’s extraordinarily rich past. John Abell is an artist and print maker who grew up in Caerau and Ely and who has since become an artist of national repute. He was runner-up for Welsh Artist of the Year in 2013 and his work has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions and represented in important private collections in Wales, England and the USA.

John also led a fantastic workshop with the ACE (Action in Caerau and Ely) Arts Group – he was extremely impressed with the creativity and talents of the artists who participated. It has been a real privilege to have John involved in our project!

Special guest artist John Abell busy at work with the ACE Monday Art Group at Our Place: Dusty Forge

CAER Art Prize Award Presentation

Paul Evans presents Eve Callard with first prize for her powerful and evocative painting in acrylic.

On Friday 7th September CAER Studio artists Paul Evans and Nicola Parsons, along with CAER Heritage director Dave Wyatt, presented the CAER Studio Art Prize awards to students from Cardiff West Community High School at the morning assembly.

12 young people from years 8, 9 and 10 have worked with CAER Studio’s Nicola Parsons and Kimberley Jones from ACE (Action for Caerau and Ely) to create art based on the heritage of Caerau and Ely.

All of the young artists have been highly commended on the excellence of their work – which varied from highly detailed drawings to 3D dioramas! All of the participants received a prize-winners certificate and professional quality sketch book. The top prize winners also received box-sets of professional quality artist’s materials from Jacksons Art in London.

All of the work produced for the CAER Studio Art Prize will be displayed at special pop-up exhibition during the Youth Voice event at St Fagans National Museum of History | National Museum Wales on Saturday 27th October. The event is from 10.30am-4.30pm and is FREE to attend – please book your place here. The exhibition continues at St Fagans on Sunday from 10pm-5pm.

Talia Richards won the Dusty Community Prize with this excellent drawing.

FIRST PRIZE: Eve Callard

JOINT SECOND PRIZE: Ellie Mallia Freeman and Ellis Horton


PRIZE WINNERS: Teanna David, Anwen Good, Maddison Hardwick, Alysha-Paige Jury-Lewis, Charlotte Macintosh, Ryan McCarthy, Madison Row, James Timothy

Caerau ‘sandfort’ at Barry Island

CAER Studio lead artist Paul Evans adds shape to the ‘sandforts’ ramparts.

On Saturday 11th August CAER Studio artists joined forces with the Guerrilla Archaeology collective – and volunteers from Cardiff University – to create a huge scale model of Caerau hillfort, on the beach, in sand …

Featuring as part of the Barry Island ‘Storytelling Weekender’, we began work early, as soon as the tide allowed, measuring out the site and creating a scale drawing of the hillfort’s outline in the sand. Other members of the team helped distribute copies of our amazing (and FREE) ‘CAER Times’ newspaper to passers-by and visitors to the beach.

The serious work of shifting hundreds of kilos of sand to build the model to its scale height of 1m then began …

Shifting sand in wheelbarrows to create the ‘sandforts’ basic form – hard work!

After a few hours of steady work we had enough sand built up on the ‘plan shape’ to begun sculpting the details of the ‘sandfort’.

With the basic form of the ‘sandfort’ complete and to scale, Ian Dennis takes a much-needed break!

These details consisted of ramparts, entrances and other features based on a drawing from the People’s Collection Wales (RCAHMW drawing) showing plan and section of Caerau Hillfort, Ely.

Ian Dennis adds detail to the ‘sandfort’ – note CAER Studio flag in the background!
With details added, our scale model nears completion – Ian Dennis (left), Dylan Sutton (middle) and Paul Evans (right) add the final touches!

By now our ‘sandfort’ was starting to attract a considerable amount of attention! With our scale model complete, visitors to the beach and members of the CAER Studio/Guerilla Archaeology team were now ready to create their own ‘Iron Age sandforts’ in response.

Becci and Nicola’s Iron Age ‘sandfort’ note the exquisitely crafted ’round houses’ …

Our work here was done … and just in time because at 3pm the heavens opened and it was time to hurriedly pack up the van and leave the beach!

CAER Studio would like to thank everyone on the team who contributed to this excellent and immensely productive day:

From Cardiff University: Prof. Jacqui Mulville (Guerilla Archaeology), Ian Dennis (Guerilla Archaeology), Dr. Julia Best (Guerilla Archaeology) Dr. Oliver Davies (CAER Heritage Project) and our amazing volunteers – Joel Curzon, Tom Falvi, Jake Griffiths, Alex Palmer and Megan Williams.

From CAER Studio: Paul Evans, Imogen Higgins, Becci Holmes, Nicola Parsons, and Dylan Sutton.

Big thanks also to Viv Thomas for photographing the event. All photos © Vivian Paul Thomas 2018

FREE Copies of CAER Times are available from Our Place Dusty Forge 460 Cowbridge Rd W, Cardiff CF5 5BZ and Ely & Caerau Community Hub, Cowbridge Rd W, Ely CF5 5BQ