As part of the nationwide Being Human Festival of humanities, ‘Heritage, Health and Wellbeing’ involved an exploration of wellbeing and heritage through public-facing activities (debate, poetry, dramatic performance, art and enterprise) at a variety of venues including the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks, Clyne Farm Centre, the National Waterfront Museum and the University’s Singleton campus and has been made possible by a grant from the festival organisers, the School of Advanced Study, University of London.
‘The Young Heritage Apprentice’, aimed at 14–18-years-olds, challenged school teams to develop a project associated with Cu @ Swansea, an ambitious heritage-led regeneration initiative focusing on the 12.5 acre site of the former Hafod-Morfa copperworks in the Lower Swansea Valley. Led by Huw Bowen, professor of public history at Swansea University, in association with the City and County of Swansea. After visiting the site of the copperworks on 12 November, selected teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges on 19 November at the National Waterfront Museum.
Research on the so-called ‘disability paradox’ has shown that life-limiting impairment is not necessarily a barrier to happiness and wellbeing, with many disabled people reporting a good quality of life. Swansea University researchers and academics at the universities of Aberystwyth, Glasgow Caledonian and Strathclyde, are uncovering historical attitudes towards disability through the experiences of those disabled in the coal industry of the 18th–20th centuries. This public debate, in partnership with Disability Wales, focused on how the happiness and wellbeing of disabled people have changed over time.
‘The Annual Richard Burton Lecture’, in the week marking 90 years since the birth of Richard Burton, the historian and biographer Angela V. John, who comes originally from Port Talbot and is an Honorary Professor at Swansea University gave the 2015 Annual Richard Burton Lecture. Her lecture was entitled, ‘Educating Richard: Actors and Educators in Port Talbot, 1925-55‘.
Open Mic Event – ‘Poetry and Happiness’
Steam Coffee Shop and Tea Room, led by former Swansea University Creative Writing student Natalie Holborow, winner of the 2015 Hetherington award for ‘Blood Sugar’ and versifier at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace, this open mic event offered the chance to consider and express through poetry what fuels passion and joy. Attendees brought along their chosen poems with the night filled with a colourful mix of voices!
Art at the Hafod – the spirit of place
The historic Hafod-Morfa Copperworks was one of the primary centres of industry in South Wales and integral to community life in the Lower Swansea Valley.
Participants of all ages had a unique chance to respond to this site of rich heritage through observational drawings and painting. Over the course of the day each visitor created some investigative drawings from points of interest. At various times, the group explored the findings, discussed the drawings and what contributed to thier final piece. With guidance from artist, Dan Llywelyn Hall, members of the group developed their observational skills and confidence with drawing and painting.
Members of the cast of ‘Windsongs of the Blessed Bay’ gave a 30-minute presentation on poetic narrative and music at Clyne Farm Centre, Swansea. This was followed by an interactive workshop on ‘creating drama from heritage’ by award-winning dramatist Professor David Britton, head of creative writing at Swansea University, and the cast members.
Written by Professor Britton, ‘Windsongs’ is a mythic play with music and puppetry which explores family, community and heritage from the perspective of a young blind woman, Betrys.
‘Y TRI Meuryn (neu Strictly, Come Barddoni)’
This was a night of fun and laughter, and poetry, in the company of some of Swansea University’s award winning poets and renowned literary critics as three local teams competed against each other and attempt to gain the highest score from the three judges. (This was a Welsh-medium event.)
Experiencing the Enclosed Garden
The Leverhulme Trust-funded project The Enclosed Garden: Pleasure, Contemplation and Cure in the Medieval Hortus Conclusus, 1100-1450 invited the public to discover how the medieval garden was filled with plants with theological, sensory and medicinal uses. Short presentations were given on these and then members of the public tried thier hand at ‘pinning the plant on the person’ – which plants healed what, and why?