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



CAER Studio’s BIG July Review!

Lots of creative activity at the garden party at Our Place Dusty Forge. Photo © Vivian Paul Thomas

July was an exceptionally busy and productive month for CAER Studio.

On 10th of July Nicola and Dylan went on a mission to explore the idea of heritage with the CAER Puppet Clan and pupils from Cardiff West Community High School and Windsor Clive Primary. Then, on the 11th and 13th of July, Paul and Nicola led two creative/interpretive workshops at the Gospel Hall at the base of Caerau hillfort for young people facing challenges – along with a group of student ambassadors from Cardiff University Confident Futures Summer School.

After that, the CAER Studio team joined ACE, The CAER Heritage Project and Guerrilla Archaeology for a spectacularly sunny day of fun at The Ely Festival.

Last, but by no means least, on July 23rd CAER Studio artists Nicola and Dylan led an exciting series of art activities and events (including the Ely’s got Talent Art exhibition) for the Creative Garden Party at Our Place Dusty Forge.

Read more below …

Hidden Hillfort Ideas Jam, Cardiff West Community High School. Photo © Nicola Parsons

Hidden Hillfort Ideas Jam, Cardiff West Community High School

On 10th July CAER Studio artists Nicola and Dylan took members of the CAER Puppet Clan to meet a collective group of year 8 students from Cardiff West Community High School and year 5s from Windsor Clive Primary School as part of a CAER Heritage co-production event seeking shape ideas about how young people can better experience Caerau hillfort.

The CAER Studio team worked alongside the pupils, community volunteers, ACE Community development workers, a heritage professional from the National Museum of Wales and academics from Cardiff University and the University of South Wales in an exciting ideas jam to help shape plans for CAER Heritage’s Hidden Hillfort Heritage Lottery development phase.

The puppets proved immensely popular and successful in stimulating creative ideas, they also kept everyone well entertained while we got on with the series business of thinking about what the word ‘heritage’ means and decorating individual letters from this word to spell it out as a bold and colourful collective message.

Confident Futures Summer Schools at Caerau Hillfort

On the 11th and 13th of July CAER Studio artists Paul and Nicola joined Cardiff University academics and student volunteers, along with the CAER Heritage team and ACE to lead two groups of young people facing significant life challenges on an exploration of Caerau hillfort in partnership with the Confident Futures Project.

Both days involved an introduction to the site, and an explanation of its archaeological significance, followed by the opportunity to get up close and personal with some amazing artefacts from the past.

The young people then went on an exploratory journey around the monument, with instructions to ‘listen carefully’ to what the hillfort might tell them.

When they returned, they were asked to note down in words or pictures what the hillfort had ‘said’ to them about its past – or to give expression to their own thoughts about how the visit had affected them or how the experience might be improved for other visitors.

These thoughts and images were then added to a drawing of the ramparts to create the ‘talking hillfort’!

Visitors to our stall at the CAER Studio Roadshow, Ely Festival. Photo © Nicola Parsons

CAER Studio Roadshow at the Ely Festival

On 14th July CAER Studio joined with the ACE, CAER Heritage and Guerrilla Archaeology teams for a spectacularly sunny day at The Ely Festival.

Visitors to the festival got a chance to have themselves photographed in our Iron Age selfie booth with the CAER Puppet Clan. Younger visitors also enjoyed making their own puppets and colouring in designs in our ever popular Tribal Logo Colouring Book.

Meanwhile, we got a chance to trail a couple of products from our studio. Our terracotta pendants proved very popular and our roundhouses for bees and bugs attracted a lot of interest. Discussions with members of the community will help us to develop our product range further so many thanks to those who dropped by for a chat.

Special thanks to those who bought products from our stall – all proceeds have been passed on to ACE to help with their work in the community!

Terracotta pendant making at the creative garden party. Photo © Vivian Paul Thomas

The Creative Garden Party

On July 23rd CAER Studio artist Dylan teamed up with the ‘Creative Community Garden’ art group and ‘Grow Cardiff’ gardening group, to run a pop up workshop at Our Place Dusty Forge, creating terracotta pendants based on Iron Age designs. Open to the public, this proved to be an exciting, busy and fun workshop, where people created their own ceramic artworks, whilst also learning about CAER hillfort at the adjacent CAER Heritage Project stand.

We were lucky enough for the sun to be shining and we also invited the community to enjoy several other creative and gardening activities including glitter tattoos, planting, flying start teddy bears picnic, willow dragon-fly making, bug finding and art therapy with ‘The Retreat’! People also enjoyed a free BBQ and got a chance to browse through various CAER Studio products that were offered for sale.

Several fantastic pieces of art from the ‘Creative Community Garden’ art group and the local community were proudly displayed in the garden gallery and in the main hall. In addition to this CAER Studio exhibited 12 entries from Cardiff West Community High School for the CAER Studio Art prize that we launched back in May/June. Students brought family members and friends to come along to view their work on the day – and to add to the excitement we also offered visitors to the exhibition the chance to vote for their favourite piece as part of a community vote!

The work will continue to displayed in the main hall at ‘our Place’ at the Our Place Dusty Forge and the vote will remain open, so please pop in over the Summer and take a look at our fantastic range of ceramics and paintings!