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Buttercup Under the Chin

Glenn Davidson is the lead artist for St. George’s Court, Tredegar in 2015/16, developing an extensive programme of research and development with residents, working with ideas revolving around the theme of The Yellow Brick Road, a fictional element in the 1900 children's novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by American author L. Frank Baum. In the first phase of the residency Glenn was joined by his associate at Artstation, Frank O’Connor, a poet with a background in responsible design and sustainability advocacy.

The artists first 'creative conversation', HELLO, took place with residents in Autumn 2015. Residents enjoyed fine cakes, tea, coffee and good conversation while viewing some thought-provoking digitally-manipulated photographs Glenn produced for the White Field Gallery, an improvised but effective exhibition space the artists developed in an underground and dilapidated car park in the heart of the estate. During HELLO, the artists talked with residents, Frank scribing their concerns onto large tablecloths. To Glenn these captured voices suggested a poetic composition. Frank then composed the notes into a poem about life in St George's Court. Between some of the stanzas, Glenn inserted choruses drawn from the epic poem Mariana by Alfred Lord Tennyson. The counterpoint of the two entirely different texts formed a powerful statement conveying sentiments and the urgent needs of residents. The epic poem valorised resident’s quintessential sentiments while retaining the heart and feeling of conversations. Glenn and Frank have subsequently performed the poem for the Design Team, residents and visitors from Cefn Golau housing estate, who heard of the residency and are planning their own regeneration developments.

Following conversations with residents about ownership of the outdoor spaces around them, one resident Linda from 124 initiated new planting. She bought a box of seeds from a store in town and wanted them planted on her behalf in an unkempt flowerbed in front of her kitchen window. The artists did not acquiesce, they responded by facilitating a maintenance team to prepare the untidy bed. Linda was then invited to proudly plant her own seeds. Many on site witnessed the planting of ‘Linda’s Seeds’; she now has friends who help her. Everyone entering the site has enjoyed the blooms in summer. The colour has transformed the rough ground providing a symbol of resident-led regeneration, an idea that is slowly catching on.   

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Blodyn Menyn o dan yr Ên

Glenn Davidson yw’r artist sy’n arwain project St. George’s Court, Tredegar 2015/16. Mae wrthi’n creu rhaglen helaeth o ymchwil a datblygu gyda phreswylwyr, gan weithio gyda syniadau sy’n troi o gwmpas thema’r Ffordd Frics Felen ddychmygol o nofel 1900 yr Americanwr L. Frank Baum i blant, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Yn rhan gyntaf y cyfnod preswyl, daeth Frank O’Connor, cyd-aelod i Glenn yn Artstation, a bardd â chefndir mewn dylunio cyfrifol a dadleuydd o blaid cynaliadwyedd, i weithio gydag ef.

Cynhaliwyd HELO, ‘sgwrs greadigol’ gyntaf yr artistiaid gyda’r preswylwyr yn hydref 2015. Mwynhaodd preswylwyr gacenni blasus, te, coffi a sgwrs dda tra’n edrych ar ffotograffau pryfoclyd, wedi eu hadnewid yn ddigidol, o waith Glenn ar gyfer Oriel Cae Gwyn, arddangosle dros-dro ond effeithiol a ddatblygwyd gan yr artistiaid mewn maes parcio tanddaearol dadfeiliedig yng nghanol y stad. Yn ystod HELO, bu’r artistiaid yn sgwrsio gyda phreswylwyr tra bu Frank yn nodi eu pryderon ar lieiniau bwrdd mawr. I Glenn, awgrymai’r lleisiau hyn gyfansoddiad barddonol. Lluniodd Frank y nodiadau’n gerdd am fywyd yn St George’s Court. Rhwng rhai o’r penillion, cynhwysodd Glenn gytganau o’r gerdd epig Mariana gan Alfred Lord Tennyson. Ffurfiai’r gwrthbwynt rhwng y ddau destun cwbl wahanol ddatganiad pwerus a oedd yn cyfleu teimladau ac anghenion brys y preswylwyr. Roedd y gerdd epig yn dilysu teimladau hanfodol y preswylwyr tra’n dal i gadw calon a theimlad y sgyrsiau. Mae Glenn a Frank wedi perfformio’r gerdd ers hynny ar gyfer y Tîm Dylunio, preswylwyr, ac ymwelwyr o stad tai Cefn Golau, a oedd wedi clywed am y fenter ac sy’n cynllunio eu datblygiadau adfywio eu hunain.

Yn dilyn sgyrsiau gyda phreswylwyr ynghylch perchenogaeth y mannau awyr-agored o’u cwmpas, aeth un preswylydd, Linda o rif 124, ati i blannu o’r newydd. Prynodd flwch o hadau o siop yn y dre ac roedd am i rywun eu plannu ar ei rhan mewn gwely blodau aflêr o flaen ffenest ei chegin. Ni chytunodd yr artistiaid i wneud hynny; eu hymateb oedd cael tîm cynnal a chadw i baratoi’r gwely anniben. Gwahoddwyd Linda i blannu ei hadau ei hun, a wnaeth â balchder. Roedd llawer o bobl ar y safle yn dyst i blannu ‘Hadau Linda’; bellach, mae ganddi ffrindiau i’w helpu. Mwynhaodd pawb a alwodd heibio i’r safle y blodau yn yr haf. Mae’r lliw wedi gweddnewid y tir garw, yn symbol o adnewyddu dan arweiniad y preswylwyr, syniad sy’n dechrau gafael.

 

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70StGC

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Glenn and Frank recognised early on the need for having a fixed base on site, to enable them to implement their approach of dialogue and immersion.  

Subsequently Arts+Minds acquired No. 70 St. George's Court, a substantial, airy and recently refurbished flat in the estate which is now being used extensively by the artists and collaborators to further develop the Yellow Brick Road (YBR) theme within the context of the St. George's Court Design Team & Tai Calon's Environmental Improvement Programme.  Functioning simultaneously as a display space, networking and resident advice centre, repair surgery and artist studio, 70StGC has become an important creative hub in the estate for a range of strategic partners and interests. These include Welsh Government Housing & Regeneration civil servants; Building Communities Trust; Coalfields Regeneration Trust; Coastal Housing; United Welsh Housing; Elected Members from Blaenau Gwent Council; and of course, the local residents. The residency flat also serves as the venue for regular design team meetings where the artists present their findings made through immersive engagement with residents. The artists’ work has helped form an inclusive team who share ideas and help plan the site regeneration.

Now a part of a regular design team meetings at 70StGC, resident voices are elevated in importance. This has increased listening and confidence and is greatly helping to guide the professionals bought in to regenerate the site.

As part of the regeneration process front doors are being replaced to comply with new EU fire regulations. However, overzealous interpretation of the rules has resulted in grievances over the removal of small mats or carpet, pot plants, pictures, anything deemed flammable. Glenn’s original proposal to Arts+Minds denoted these items as identifiers forming an important feature of residents’ place-making and belonging. Recent discussion with Tai Calon's Chief Executive, Joe Logan has underlined a commitment to review organisational policy toward a more sensitive implementation, working with residents to find acceptable solutions.   

Recently Glenn designed a special yellow coloured oval table for No. 70. Meetings are ‘spectacularised’ around the Yellow Brick Road theme, creating a buttercup glow under gathered chins! The design also gives more access around the table responding to resident feedback, many of whom thought the room was a bit small for everyone during popular design team meetings.    

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Sylweddolodd Glenn a Frank yn gynnar yn y broses bod angen canolfan sefydlog ar y safle, i’w galluogi i weithredu eu dull o fynd ati trwy drafod ac ymdrwytho. O ganlyniad, sicrhaodd Arts+Minds Rif 70 St. George's Court , fflat sylweddol, olau, newydd ei hailwampio ar y stad, a ddefnyddir yn helaeth bellach gan yr artistiaid a chydweithwyr i ddatblygu thema’r Ffordd Frics Felen ymhellach o fewn cyd-destun Tîm Dylunio St George’s Court a Rhaglen Gwella’r Amgylchedd Tai Calon. Gan weithredu fel gofod arddangos, canolfan rwydweithio a chynghori preswylwyr, gweithdy trwsio a stiwdio artist, mae 70StGC wedi mynd yn hyb creadigol pwysig ar y stad ar gyfer amrywiaeth o bartneriaid a buddiannau strategol. Mae’r rhain yn cynnwys gweision sifil Tai ac Adfywio Llywodraeth Cymru; Ymddiriedolaeth Adfywio’r Maes Glo; Tai’r Glannau; Tai United Welsh; aelodau etholedig o Gyngor Blaenau Gwent; ac, wrth gwrs, y preswylwyr lleol. Cynhelir cyfarfodydd rheolaidd y tîm dylunio yno hefyd, lle bydd yr artistiaid yn cyflwyno ffrwyth eu hymgysylltiad dwys â’r preswylwyr. Mae gwaith yr artistiaid wedi helpu i greu tîm cynhwysol sy’n rhannu syniadau a helpu i gynllunio adfywiad y safle.

A hwythau bellach yn rhan o gyfarfodydd rheolaidd y tîm dylunio yn 70StGC, mae mwy o bwyslais ar leisiau’r preswylwyr. Sicrhaodd hynny well gwrandawiad a mwy o hyder, sy’n helpu’n fawr i dywys y gweithwyr proffesiynol a ddygwyd i mewn i adfywio’r safle.

Fel rhan o’r broses adfywio, gosodwyd drysau ffrynt newydd i gydymffurfio â rheoliadau tân newydd yr UE. Fodd bynnag, mae dehongli’r rheolau yn rhy gaeth wedi arwain at gwynion ynglŷn â symud matiau bach neu garpedi, planhigion, lluniau, unrhyw beth a ystyrid yn llosgadwy. Nodai cynigion gwreiddiol Glenn i Arts+Minds yr eitemau hyn fel dynodwyr a oedd yn nodwedd bwysig mewn creu lle a pherthyn. Tanlinellodd trafodaeth ddiweddar gyda Phrif Weithredydd Calon, Joe Logan, ymrwymiad i adolygu polisi’r sefydliad tuag at weithredu mewn modd mwy sensitif, gan weithio gyda phreswylwyr i ganfod atebion derbyniol.

Dyluniodd Glenn fwrdd hirgrwn lliw melyn arbennig ar gyfer Rhif 70. Gwneir cyfarfodydd ar thema’r Ffordd Fric Felen yn ‘llygad-dynnol’, gan greu gwrid blodau’r menyn dan bob gên sydd wedi ymgynnull yno! Mae’r dyluniad hefyd yn hwyluso mynediad i’r bwrdd, gan ymateb i sylwadau preswylwyr a gredai bod y stafell braidd yn fach ar gyfer pawb yn ystod cyfarfodydd poblogaidd y tîm dylunio.

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Thresholds

The success of the AiR programme in 70StGC has continued to develop new and exciting dialogue and outcomes. Throughout the spring and summer of 2016, Glenn painstakingly photographed all of the 130 residents’ front doors. This forensic documentary exercise culminated in THRESHOLDS: An Exhibition of Front Doors and Feelings, which has been installed in the Yellow Field Gallery (formerly White Field Gallery) in the bleak underpass on site. This ‘celebratory’ archive of front doors gives voice, and recognition, to personal aesthetic choices made by the residents that is slowly being erased as each door is replaced with uniform safety compliant units, in the upgrading process. The exhibition and its motives have puzzled many residents, but the public display has generally been well received and continues to generate interest from visitors to the estate. None of the images have been vandalised to date.To help these initiatives along the artist has photographed every door on site, conversing with residents on route, and created an exhibition. Thresholds Exhibition celebrates and commemorates these doors, presenting the amazing diversity. 130 doorways are a simple form of local heritage presented in the open on the newly painted Yellow Field for everyone to view. A full celebration is planned for May 2017.

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Trothwyau

Mae llwyddiant y rhaglen artistiaid preswyl yn 70StGC wedi parhau i ddatblygu dialog a chanlyniadau newydd a chyffrous. Ar hyd gwanwyn a haf 2016, tynnodd Glenn ffotograffau gofalus o bob un o ddrysau ffrynt y 130 o breswylwyr. Arweiniodd yr ymarferiad dogfennol fforensig hwn at TROTHWYAU: Arddangosfa o Ddrysau Ffrynt a Theimladau, a fewnosodwyd yn Oriel Cae Melyn (Oriel Cae Gwyn yn flaenorol) yn y danffordd lom ar y safle. Mae’r archif ‘ddathliadol’ hon o ddrysau ffrynt yn rhoi llais a chydnabyddiaeth i ddewisiadau esthetig unigol y preswylwyr, sy’n cael eu dileu yn araf wrth i ddrws ar ôl drws gael ei ddisodli gan uned unffurf sy'n cydymffurfio â rheolau diogelwch, yn y broses uwchraddio. Mae’r arddangosfa a’i chymhellion wedi drysu llawer o’r preswylwyr, ond cafodd yr arddangosiad cyhoeddus dderbyniad da yn gyffredinol ac mae’n dal i ennyn diddordeb ymhlith ymwelwyr â’r stad. Ni chafodd yr un ddelwedd ei niweidio hyd yn hyn. Mae arddangosfa Trothwyau yn dathlu a choffáu’r drysau hyn, gan gyflwyno eu hamrywiaeth anhygoel. Mae’r 130 o ddrysau yn fath syml o dreftadaeth leol wedi ei gyflwyno ar y Cae Melyn newydd ei beintio, i bawb gael ei weld. Trefnir dathliad llawn ar gyfer mis Mai 2017.

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The Journey Continues

Work on site continues to roll out the visual references to the Yellow Brick Road theme, with various stanchions, pillars and bulkheads on site being treated with the trademark yellow paint. Glenn chose yellow road line colour as a reference from everyday environmental experience. Monochromatic use of yellow on site has started to give new definition and perspective to the architectural features and created an environment of familiarisation for residents — many of whom have responded warmly to the ‘interventions’ — that helps to provide an incremental sense of the upcoming physical works transforming walkways, surfaces and signage, etc.

Glenn is devising in conjunction with WYG, the landscape architects, a second phase of design and production. Following Frank’s departure in June local artist Chris Walters joins Glenn on the weekly site immersions at 70StGC. The strategy was developed by Glenn and Frank early in the immersive residency, in answer to one of the key matters for socially engaged work – what happens for residents when the artist leaves? Beyond the limited time scale of the residency Chris will provide a legacy involvement on site for residents. In this way the Yellow Brick Road project substantiates its long-term commitment to St Georges Court and the residents through Chris’s involvement of local knowledge, vernacular and creative development.

A new narrative opened one morning when graffiti was found on the Yellow Field. First impressions were that it was an unpleasant and racist slight. The slogan was found to be a ‘tag’, which identified a visitor, announcing their presence.

Much discussion had taken place about antisocial behaviour (ASB) on site, caused by people passing through. Who was the tagger, 'The Wog’? It so happens that he had been sleeping rough in Bedwellty House and Park in Tredegar, mixing with local youths.

The artists decided to trademark the graffiti with a TM in a circle forming a direct statement back to its maker. The idea was to create conversation. During social media research into this incident, contact was made with his circle of friends. This group had been responsible for pulling a few of the Threshold images off the Yellow Field.

The artists are now planning to meet the group at 70StGC and invite them for tea and cake, the idea being to engage and connect them with other residents on site – possibly involved them in some aspect of the project. Unfortunately no one has seen the graffiti man again. Apparently, he left Wales, returning home to Hampshire. This proved an unusual instance of ASB, raising the question of how the artists might respond constructively to the young people.

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Mae'r Siwrnai’n Parhau

Mae gwaith ar y safle yn dal i gynhyrchu cyfeiriadau gweledol i thema’r Ffordd Frics Felen, gyda gwahanol byst, pileri a pharwydydd mewnol wedi eu trin â’r paent melyn trawiadol. Dewisodd Glenn y lliw melyn llinellau-ffordd fel cyfeirbwynt o brofiad amgylcheddol bob-dydd. Mae defnyddio’r lliw hwn yn unig ar y safle wedi dechrau rhoi diffiniad a phersbectif newydd i’r nodweddion pensaernïol, a chreu amgylchedd o ymgyfarwyddo i’r preswylwr – y mae llawer ohonynt wedi ymateb yn frwd i’r ‘ymyriadau’ – sy’n helpu i greu ymdeimlad cynyddol o’r gwaith adeiladu sydd i ddod, a fydd yn trawsffurfio palmentydd, arwynebau, arwyddion, ac ati.

Mae Glenn, ar y cyd â WYG, y penseiri tirlun, wrthi’n dyfeisio ail gyfnod o ddatblygu a chynhyrchu. Wedi ymadawiad Frank ym mis Mehefin, bydd yr artist lleol Chris Walters yn ymuno â Chris yn y sesiynau wythnosol yn 70StGC. Datblygwyd y strategaeth gan Glenn a Frank yn gynnar yn eu cyfnod preswyl, fel ateb i un o gwestiynau allweddol gwaith ag ymrwymiad cymdeithasol – beth sy’n digwydd wedi i’r artist ymadael? Y tu hwnt i derfyn amser y cyfnod preswyl, bydd Chris yn darparu gwaddol o gyfranogi ar y safle ar gyfer y preswylwyr. Yn y ffordd yma, bydd project y Ffordd Frics Felen yn gwireddu ei ymrwymiad tymor-hir i St George’s Court a’r preswylwyr trwy gynnwys gwybodaeth leol frodorol a datblygiad creadigol. 

Cychwynnodd naratif newydd un bore pan ddarganfuwyd graffiti ar y Cae Melyn. Yr argraff gyntaf oedd ei fod yn sarhad annymunol a hiliol. Cafwyd mai ‘tag’ oedd y slogan, y ffordd yr oedd yr ymwelydd yn cyhoeddi ei bresenoldeb.

Bu llawer o drafod am ymddygiad gwrth-gymdeithasol (YGG) ar y safle, a achosid gan bobl o’r tu allan. Pwy oedd y tagiwr, sef ‘The Wog’? Fel roedd hi’n digwydd, roedd wedi bod yn cysgu allan ym Mharc Bedwellte yn Nhredegar, gan gymysgu â phobl ifanc leol.

Penderfynodd yr artistiaid droi’r graffiti’n fasnachnod, â’r TM mewn cylch yn ffurfio datganiad a gyfeiriai’n uniongyrchol yn ôl at ei wneuthurydd. Y syniad oedd creu sgwrs. Trwy ymchwil ar gyfryngau cymdeithasol, cysyllywyd â chylch o’i ffrindiau. Y grŵp hwn fuasai’n gyfrifol am dynnu rhai o luniau’r arddangosfa Trothwyau i lawr yn y Cae Melyn.

Mae’r artistiaid bellach yn bwriadu cwrdd â’r grwp yn 70StGC, a’u gwahodd i de a chacen. Y syniad yw ymgysylltu â nhw a’u rhoi mewn cysylltiad â phreswylwyr eraill ar y safle – obosib eu cynnwys mewn rhyw agwedd ar y project. Yn anffodus, does neb wedi gweld dyn y graffiti ers hynny. Ymddengys iddo fynd adref i Hampshire. Roedd hon yn enghraifft anghyffredin o YGG, a gododd y cwestiwn sut y gallai’r artistiaid ymateb yn adeiladol i’r bobl ifanc.

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