My approach to this project has been one of open consultation with the library and friends group of the library and collaboration with other artists in the production.
So, with the idea of a performance turning text into movement along the route from the library to the festival site, with some kind of mini mobile library as the focus, I began discussions with creatives to see what we might create.
I met with students on the Extended Diploma in Art & Design at Hereford College of Arts, tutored by Darren Williams, to discuss the project and their possible involvement. Using themes from the book and in particular the presence of gardening throughout the novel, they came upon the idea to source a 1950s wheelbarrow to adapt. Once college work was completed Jasper Cousins adapted the wheelbarrow to hold a large roll of printed paper (the novel).
Working with music degree student – Mary Tolhurst – who I have asked to write and record a piece of music inspired by the novel which will be played from the Wheelbarrow, mostly to attract attention to the performance. Mary is interested in the subtle transformative effects of music and how it can influence what we are feeling.
To be able to use a novel in this way I soon had to contact the publishers to ask permission to use the text in this way, the author’s daughter Merryn Hemp was also consulted and is delighted with the project and thinks it, “A wonderful idea”. The Library of Wales has given ten copies of the novel towards the project, which are now available to borrow at Abergavenny library.
To highlight the ideas of text to movement and growth (individual growth through reading and other library services), especially with gardening being integral to the way of life of central characters of the book, we’ll be giving away seedlings of plants featured in the novel along with the text, with the obvious connotations of text planting germs of ideas and knowledge in the mind and promoting growth. A little clichéd, perhaps, but still very relevant today and a big part of what libraries and librarians are all about (in my view! Comments very welcome.)
I am currently growing Little Gem lettuce, Chrysnthemum, Sweet Pea and Snap dragon from seed in my garden, in my neighbour’s greenhouse and the Greenfingers group in Pen-Y-Pound are also having a go in an effort to have enough seedlings in bio pots to give away with the text during the Eisteddfod.
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