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Original artworks honour people behind heritage project success

17 November 2021

The people at the heart of a transformative community heritage project have been celebrated in a series of new artworks.

The installation, developed by Creative Cardiff and the Caerau and Ely Rediscovering (CAER) Heritage Project, tells the story of a decade-long programme of community initiatives delivered in partnership by Cardiff University, Action in Caerau and Ely (ACE),schools, local artists and creative people, residents and heritage partners.

On display at the Hidden Hillfort Community Heritage Centre, which was opened by First Minister Mark Drakeford in September, the celebratory artworks portray the key figures who have each played a part in the project’s decade of success across ten decorative panels.

Designed by local artist Nic Parsons, the installation incorporates drawings made by local community members and school children from Cardiff West High School. Portraits sketched by Nic, fellow artists Paul Kenneth Evans and Bill Taylor-Beales, and a poem by Sue Hamblen also feature.

Artist Nic Parsons led the design project which includes contributions from other creatives, school children and local residents.

Nic, an Arts Development Officer with ACE and lead local artist on CAER Heritage, said: “I’ve worked on art projects with ACE for years and started freelancing with CAER Heritage in 2016. Over that time, I’ve seen the amazing things they’ve achieved by working together with local residents, volunteers and schools in Caerau and Ely.

“It was really important to capture some of these achievements in the artworks while staying true to the co-production ethos of the project. And so, it was a collaborative effort from start to finish with contributions from a whole host of creatives, school children and other community members who have attended illustration workshops at the Dusty Forge.”

The arrangement, layout and colouring was finalised on Nicola’s iPad before a printing company transferred the artworks to wood to match the aesthetic of the centre and nearby heritage-themed playground.

Dr David Wyatt, Co-director of the CAER heritage project and Reader in Early Medieval History at Cardiff Univeristy’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, said: “CAER Heritage wouldn’t exist without the hard work, dedication, passion and talent of all the local people involved and there have been literally thousands of people - of all ages - who’ve contributed over the years! To recognise the contributions of a few of them in such a creative way is magnificent and very much in tune with our project which has always involved art and imagination to explore the past.

“Not only that, local people have had the opportunity to learn illustration skills and techniques from our project artists Nic and Paul and have their work featured within the final piece too. For me, this type of co-creation is the cornerstone of CAER Heritage. I can’t think of a better way to mark its tenth year than with these wonderful artworks.”

Early in 2021, CAER Heritage partnered with Creative Cardiff to increase awareness of the project among creatives across Cardiff. The idea for the installation grew from this partnership.

Vicki Sutton, Creative Cardiff Project Manager

Vicki Sutton, Creative Cardiff Project Manager, said: “The art installation is the culmination of 10 months of co-production between the CAER Heritage and Creative Cardiff teams to bring the story of the brilliant CAER project to life in a creative way.

“Telling the story of Cardiff’s creative activity is core to our work at Creative Cardiff and I feel so proud that we'll have this beautiful art representing some of the people and passion at the heart of the project for all those who visit the centre to experience now and, in the future.”

Among those portrayed is Caroline Barr, a collaborator and long-term friend of the CAER Heritage Project, who passed away in March 2021.

© Nic Parsons

Dave Horton, Co-Director of Action in Caerau and Ely, said: “Whensue  we heard the incredibly sad news about Caroline earlier this year, we all said that we wanted to keep her memory alive so that she remained here with us and that her presence could be felt for years to come.

“This project and these communities were so important to Caroline. So, to see her memorialised in such a beautiful way as part of this artwork and in the heart of the communities she cared so deeply about is incredibly moving. I hope her family, like us, her friends, take a great deal of comfort from it.”

The installation will be unveiled at 11am on Wednesday 17 November 2021.

Follow the event on Cardiff University’s Instagram stories.