‘Dusty Fort’ – Design with Dylan!

CAER Studio design workshop at Our Place: Dusty Forge.

On May 21st, CAER Studio artist Dylan was invited along to the Monday morning ‘Creative Community Garden’ art project at ‘Our Place: Dusty Forge’, to facilitate a creative design workshop.

He worked with 8 regular participants to generate ideas, taking inspiration from the CAER Hidden HiIlfort Project. The group had previously been approached to paint a small wooden castle built by the local ‘Dusty Sheds’ group and situated in the Dusty Forge garden. We thought this would be a great opportunity to create a design based on the history of Caerau hillfort and to collaborate with other local makers.

The art group members worked enthusiastically on designs for the castle, which they aptly named the ‘Dusty Fort’! Dylan will now use the ideas and drawings created by the participants to generate a final design. The group will paint the design onto the castle in the next few weeks.

If you would like to get involved with CAER Studio and find out more, we will be taking part in the Creative Garden Party taking place at the Dusty Forge on July 23rd from midday. At this FREE event you will be welcome to work with our CAER Studio artists to create some heritage-themed artwork, find out more about the project and view some of the fantastic handmade products that we have made with the local community!

Following the success of the award-winning Caer Heritage Project, CAER Studio is a one year AHRC funded project that will lead to the development of a series of creatively co-produced art objects and craft items inspired by the history and heritage of the community of Caerau and Ely in South West Cardiff. Local people will have the chance to get involved in a range of artistic activities, inspired by the knowledge and artefacts gained from archaeological excavations at Caerau Hillfort. The CAER Collective, a cohort of local artists, will hold workshops and events over 2018 at which residents can come along and get creative, while developing new skills and learning more about the history of their community.

Imogen Higgins: CAER Commission – work in progress

Sculptural ceramics by Imogen Higgins (work in progress).

Imogen is in the process of creating a series of three sculptural ceramic pieces based on Welsh bronze age axe heads discovered in Caerau and Ely. She saw these, along with other amazing finds that are stored in the archives of National Museum Wales, during a recent visit with students from the Cardiff University Live Local Learn Local Hidden Histories and Untold Treasures: Exploring Ely and Caerau Through Time course.

These three vessels were each thrown on a wheel and then modelled afterwards using a coiling method to create the ridge near the base and the three vertical ribs along its face. These ribs are an important decorative element in many of the bronze axes produced in this period (900-850BC).

Imogen plans to use a combination of slips and stains to complete the series, which will resemble the green hues of these extraordinary artefacts.

“My aim when making the series was to take inspiration from the bronze age axes and interpret some of their characteristics into clay rather then setting out to make an exact replica. I have really enjoyed this process and plan to use some of the design aspects learnt from this CAER Studio project in future artworks.”

Imogen Higgins

Following the success of the award-winning Caer Heritage Project, CAER Studio is a one year AHRC funded project that will lead to the development of a series of creatively co-produced art objects and craft items inspired by the history and heritage of the community of Caerau and Ely in South West Cardiff. Local people will have the chance to get involved in a range of artistic activities, inspired by the knowledge and artefacts gained from archaeological excavations at Caerau Hillfort. The CAER Collective, a cohort of local artists, will hold workshops and events over 2018 at which residents can come along and get creative, while developing new skills and learning more about the history of their community.

Round Houses for Birds and Bees!

Terracotta roundhouses for birds and bees by CAER Studio. Photo © Dylan Sutton 2018

Artist Dylan Sutton has developed this fantastic concept for CAER Studio: roundhouses for birds and bees! Based on the design of the Iron Age roundhouse, these terracotta ceramics will provide homes for solitary bees and unique nest boxes for birds.

Roundhouses were the standard form of housing built in Britain from the Bronze Age throughout the Iron Age, and in some areas well into the Sub Roman period. They used walls made either of stone or of wooden posts joined by wattle-and-daub panels and a conical thatched roof and ranged in size from less than 5m in diameter to over 15m. Most of what is assumed about these structures is derived from the layout of the postholes, although a few timbers have been found preserved in bogs. The rest has been postulated by experimental archaeology, which has shown the most likely form and function of the buildings. For example, experiments have shown that a conical roof with a pitch of about 45 degrees would have been the strongest and most efficient design. A reconstruction of the Bryn Eryr Iron Age Farmstead at St Fagans is based on a groundplan of two roundhouses connected to form a figure-of-eight.

Our terracotta roundhouses have been individually created at Our Place Dusty Forge by regular members of the Community Garden group and the Thursday retreat.

A selection of roundhouses will be available to purchase from our website in coming weeks. All proceeds from sales will be donated to help support the work of ACE.

Following the success of the award-winning Caer Heritage Project, CAER Studio is a one year AHRC funded project that will lead to the development of a series of creatively co-produced art objects and craft items inspired by the history and heritage of the community of Caerau and Ely in South West Cardiff. Local people will have the chance to get involved in a range of artistic activities, inspired by the knowledge and artefacts gained from archaeological excavations at Caerau Hillfort. The CAER Collective, a cohort of local artists, will hold workshops and events over 2018 at which residents can come along and get creative, while developing new skills and learning more about the history of their community.

Terracotta Pendants

Terracotta pendants by CAER Studio. Photo © Nicola Parsons 2018 .

Based on a theme of Iron Age surface decoration that has developed from CAER Studio research at Cardiff University by the artist Nicola Parsons, these pendants have been hand made in terracotta and decorated using tools and implements (including shells and wooden implements) that would have been available thousands of years ago. The pendants have then been double fired and coated with linseed oil – a surface treatment that may have been in use during the Iron Age.

Each pendant has been individually created at Caerau Gospel Hall – Community Heritage Centre by CAER Studio artists and visitors to the CAER Heritage open day events.

A selection of these pendants will be available to purchase from our web site in coming weeks. All proceeds from sales will be donated to help support the work of ACE.

Following the success of the award-winning Caer Heritage Project, CAER Studio is a one year AHRC funded project that will lead to the development of a series of creatively co-produced art objects and craft items inspired by the history and heritage of the community of Caerau and Ely in South West Cardiff. Local people will have the chance to get involved in a range of artistic activities, inspired by the knowledge and artefacts gained from archaeological excavations at Caerau Hillfort. The CAER Collective, a cohort of local artists, will hold workshops and events over 2018 at which residents can come along and get creative, while developing new skills and learning more about the history of their community.

 

Hidden Hillfort Easter Event

Seed bomb making means muddy hands! Photo © Viv Thomas

On Friday 6th April CAER Studio artists led a series of drop-in workshops alongside the Hidden Hillfort/CAER Heritage project Easter Event at the former Caerau Gospel Hall on Church Road.

Visitors got a chance to get creative and try their hands at wool weaving and making seed bombs – and to design an Easter egg using Iron Age patterns for inspiration. They also got the chance to handle some of the amazing artefacts that have been found on the hill fort and to talk to CAER Heritage Project archaeologists and volunteers – or just chat over a coffee, a toasted marshmallow or some ‘proper’ food from the barbecue.

The day was a great success, the sun shone and the weather was perfect for an Easter Egg hunt followed by a tour of the hill fort with Olly Davis, director the CAER Heritage project.

“It was a really fun day for everyone involved and there was a great sense of community spirit. A local resident even brought along a  minature rescue pony for everyone to admire! It’s always great to see some new (and familiar!) faces at our events and find out more about the local area and its residents.”

Nicola Parsons, CAER Studio artist and project coordinator

Following the success of the award-winning Caer Heritage Project, CAER Studio is a one year AHRC funded project that will lead to the development of a series of creatively co-produced art objects and craft items inspired by the history and heritage of the community of Caerau and Ely in South West Cardiff. Local people will have the chance to get involved in a range of artistic activities, inspired by the knowledge and artefacts gained from archaeological excavations at Caerau Hillfort. The CAER Collective, a cohort of local artists, will hold workshops and events over 2018 at which residents can come along and get creative, while developing new skills and learning more about the history of their community.

My new adventure as Community Arts Development Officer for CAER Studio.

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Woven art by Nicola Parsons

Having created community artwork in Ely and Caerau over the last five years, I have got to know the local residents, participants and the area’s rich mixture of community groups really well. During this time I have always been warmed by the strong sense of local community, something that you rarely stumble across in life these days, especially on such a broad scale.

I first worked with the ‘People Around Here’ arts charity, who introduced me to the ACE team at Dusty Forge around five years ago, and I have dipped my toes into short-term funded projects at ‘The Dusty’ ever since.  When I was first introduced to Dave Wyatt (coordinator of the CAER Heritage Project / Historian), around two years ago and started learning about the hillfort project, I was instantly captivated.  A hidden plot of treasure, being uncovered by its own residents! I didn’t know much about it at first, and I have recently learned how the project has been expanding and evolving over more years than I realised, beginning back in 2011.

If you are yet to read about the project, here are a few facts:

• Caerau hillfort is one of the largest and best preserved in South Wales.

• It’s the third largest Iron Age hillfort in Glamorgan, enclosing 5.1 hectares (about the size of four football pitches).

• It began with local residents, the local schools and a handful of Cardiff University academics kickstarting the Caerau And Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project, based in West Cardiff.

• The aim of the project is to explore the history and archaeology of Caerau and Ely, create new life opportunities for local people and generate positive stories about the area.

• The Ely estate was originally designed as a garden village in the 1920s.

This brings me to where I fit in!  I have recently accepted a new job as ‘Community Arts Engagement Officer’ for CAER Studio, the latest development in the CAER Heritage Project, having originally been brought in as a freelance artist to work on the project alongside other accomplished local artists now known as the ‘CAER collective’. My new post encompasses so many of my artistic passions – allowing me not only to be creative, but also to help grow the business enterprise of CAER Studio by working in a coordination role in which I will be involved in planning and marketing all things art on the project!

Having spent my first few years after uni as a scenic artist and buyer, then going on to complete my PGCE in further education and continue as a freelance artist, it is a great opportunity to pull all my skills together and work with like-minded people to make the project sustainable for the future. I’m working with the most wonderful people from the CAER Heritage Project and the dynamic team at ACE (Action in Ely and Caerau). I am hoping to use the variety of experience that I have gained from previous jobs, and my eagerness to explore creative potential, in this exciting new field of history and heritage! Even during a quick whistle-stop tour from Dave Horton (Development Manager at ‘Our Place’ ACE), around Ely as part of my induction, I’ve learned a lot more about its rich history and some of the challenges the community has overcome. I am very excited about the future (and the past) and what they hold for all of us involved!

In my first two weeks I have delivered a successful Ceramic Pendant Making workshop at the Gospel Hall – Community Heritage Centre and taken part in a strategy planning workshop with academics at Brighton university, which really helped unravel our hopes and aims for the future. I’ll leave you with this quote reflecting on the project so far, collectively thought up by volunteers, employees and trustees of the CAER team who attended:

‘Everyone is given the opportunity to share their wisdom, experience and treasured memories, creating opportunity for personal growth, and to put Ely and Caerau on the map!’

Nicola Parsons, CAER Studio Project Coordinator

Following the success of the award-winning Caer Heritage Project, CAER Studio is a one year AHRC funded project that will lead to the development of a series of creatively co-produced art objects and craft items inspired by the history and heritage of the community of Caerau and Ely in South West Cardiff. Local people will have the chance to get involved in a range of artistic activities, inspired by the knowledge and artefacts gained from archaeological excavations at Caerau Hillfort. The CAER Collective, a cohort of local artists, will hold workshops and events over 2018 at which residents can come along and get creative, while developing new skills and learning more about the history of their community.

CAER Studio half term outreach event at Caerau Gospel Hall – Community Heritage Centre

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On February 21st we held a half term CAER Heritage Project outreach event, at the Gospel Hall – Community Heritage Centre.  Various activities took place to make it an enjoyable day for all involved.

Some wonderful volunteers kept everyone warm with a constant flow of hot beverages, biscuits and chip butties!  A buzz of excitement surrounded Caroline (ACE) as marshmallows were toasted on a pit fire outside and Olly (CAER co-director) took a variety of people of all ages on a sunny, but chilly, amble up to the Hillfort.

As planning has been in progress over the past few weeks to launch the CAER collective of artists, and the role of ‘Community Arts Engagement Officer’ has been filled, we thought this would be a welcome opportunity to run our first creative workshop, involving our newly appointed CAER Studio artists. They have been working on the ‘Breaking The Mould’ free community art sessions (funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation) that has been running at the Dusty Forge every Monday morning over the past few years.

Everyone present was welcomed to take part in the activity on the day.  Taking inspiration from Roman and Iron age ceramics and some of the artefacts found at the Hidden Hillfort, that were also on display at the event, we moulded some 3D forms, then used natural tools to add repeat and symmetrical patterns as decoration onto the surface. These were then put aside to dry out ready for firing at a later date.

The event pulled together various members of the community, including people who came to share fond memories of Caerau and Ely with Kimberley & Helen, ask questions about the future of the project and re-engage with the events taking place in the area. Also youngsters looking for half term fun and parents who said they hadn’t had an opportunity to play with clay since their school days! The artefacts were crafted beautifully and looked pretty authentic.

When the art work is fired, we are planning a follow-up ceramic glazing workshop, and we’re over flowing with ideas for the future, from iron age tool making, to mixing natural dyes and paints to name a few!  Watch this space for updates of how you could be involved!

Nicola Parsons, CAER Studio Project Coordinator

Following the success of the award-winning Caer Heritage Project, CAER Studio is a one year AHRC funded project that will lead to the development of a series of creatively co-produced art objects and craft items inspired by the history and heritage of the community of Caerau and Ely in South West Cardiff. Local people will have the chance to get involved in a range of artistic activities, inspired by the knowledge and artefacts gained from archaeological excavations at Caerau Hillfort. The CAER Collective, a cohort of local artists, will hold workshops and events over 2018 at which residents can come along and get creative, while developing new skills and learning more about the history of their community.