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.

Experimental Archaeology & Surface Decoration

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Antler rings created by Ian Dennis.

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.

On Friday 9th February CAER Studio, members of the CAER Studio artists collective, Imogen Higgins,  Becci Holmes (see also In Rainbows), Dylan Sutton and lead artist Paul Evans visited the School of History, Archaeology and Religion (SHARE) at Cardiff University for an afternoon of experimental archaeology and an exploration of themes of surface decoration.

Oliver Davies, co-director for the project, began the workshop with a fascinating introduction into some of the key finds from previous CAER Heritage Project excavations, including beautifully polished stone axes, pottery, the ‘Meare Bead’ (something of an icon for CAER Studio) and a well-preserved Roman brooch. It was a great privilege to handle these objects that have lain in the ground for many thousands of years and to give some thought as to how and why these objects have come to be so exquisitely decorated. We were joined at one point in the discussion by Dr Jacqui Mulville from Guerrilla Archaeology – one of CAER Studio’s project partners – who have devised a host of engaging activities for the festival-going public since 2015. We look forward to working more with Guerrilla Archaeology over the coming months.

This context set us up nicely for the next part of the workshop, which was a practical introduction to the manufacture of antler rings by Ian Dennis, archaeological artist working within SHARE.

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Dylan creates a smooth and attractive surface by polishing with increasingly fine sandpaper.

As Jacqui and Ian explained, deer antler is an amazing material that has been used since the earliest times in the manufacture of tools and art objects. Ian showed us some very fine examples that he has made himself based on original Viking combs, rings, needles and knife handles.  Our task over the next hour or so was to create and decorate our own antler ring using modern tools and ancient techniques.

Becci, Dylan and Imogen all clearly enjoyed this hands-on task and it didn’t take long for all three artists to produce individual, unique works of art based on ancient examples.

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Becci’s antler ring.

All photos © Viv Thomas 2018.

 

FRESH thoughts for the SPRING season …

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A lively discussion about the CAER Studio spring product range.

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.

On 15th January the CAER Studio team of artists Imogen Higgins,  Becci Holmes (see also In Rainbows), Nicola Parsons, Dylan Sutton and lead artist Paul Evans met up with Breaking the Mould coordinator Becky Matyus, Action for Caerau and Ely (ACE) Development Manager Dave Horton and Dave Wyatt, director of the CAER Heritage Project for another intensive afternoon of creative thought and brainstorming …

We began by looking into the future and setting some personal and collective goals for the project – imagining what we would like people to be saying about CAER Studio in a year’s time. We’ll be able to use these goals as benchmarks throughout the year to map our progress and make sure that we’re on target!

We then spent a productive hour making sketches and discussing ideas based around the   following questions:

What does the word ‘spring’ mean?
What images ‘spring’ to mind …
What does ‘Easter’ mean?
What might ‘spring’ (or any ceremonies relating to new growth/rebirth) have meant to the original inhabitants of the Caerau hill fort?

We thought of how we might create spring or Easter related craft/art/edible products in:

A unique edition (single work of art)
An edition/range of 5
An edition/range of  10

Three core ideas have emerged (sprung?) from this workshop:

A) The idea of ‘time travelling’ eggs that might contain seeds from Iron Age plants, historical facts (e.g. it was the Romans who introduced the Easter Bunny to the British Isles after their invasion in AD 43) or memories that can be shared between generations.

B) A set of heritage themed playing cards that will be used as the basis for 3D physical objects relating to images on the cards.

C) CNC cut egg-shaped boards, decorated with easter motifs and hinged in the form of a book.

We’ll be posting again soon with updates on the development of these ideas and any others that might develop between now and Easter.

First meeting: CAER Studio artists at The Hidden Hillfort creative co-production workshop …

Hidden Hillfort creative co-production workshop at Our Place: Dusty Forge

The historical first meeting of CAER Studio artists … reblogged from the CAER Heritage Project website …

On Friday 13th November 2017 four artists from the ACE Breaking the Mould: Hands On Art At Our Place project met up with members of the management team of the new HLF funded Hidden Hillfort project, and CAER Heritage Project artist Paul Evans for a day of intensive creative co-production.

Based around a series of exercises devised by Paul to put everyone at ease and to create a comfortable atmosphere for a free exchange of ideas, the day was amazingly productive and generated over 150 ideas for heritage interpretation that will feed into the development of the new centre that will be sited in the former Gospel Hall, Church road Caerau.

Of course 150 ideas is a lot to fit into one relatively small place so everyone’s suggestions were then subjected to some practical reasoning and trimmed down and organised around four key themes of Materials, Storytelling, Community & Co-production, Inside and Outside (i.e. how we might bring the hill fort into the heritage centre – and how we might bring ideas from the heritage centre up onto the hill).

The team also found time to discuss ideas for a heritage themed event will take place at the former Gospel Hall sometime around Christmas. There will be more news about this soon so keep your eyes on our Facebook Page, on Twitter – and WATCH THIS SPACE!

We would like to thank everyone who took part on the day and contributed so much of their time, energy and creative thought: artists Imogen Higgins,  Becci Holmes (see also In Rainbows), Nicola Parsons, and Dylan Sutton, Breaking the Mould coordinator Becky Matyus, members of the Hidden Hillfort project team – Dave Horton (ACE) Kimberley Jones (ACE), Dave Wyatt (Cardiff University), Oliver Davis (Cardiff University) – and CAER Heritage Project artist Paul Evans.