A few months ago, I began to reflect on my creative practice as a music producer and experience designer. Over the years I’ve had the great pleasure of working with lots of people in lots of contexts. I’ve worked in over 250 schools across the country alongside tens of thousands of learners of all ages...
...I’ve worked on the development of creative digital tools through many participatory design projects...
...and I've even created experiences that strive to bring together members of the community in shared interactive sound experiences.
So my practice has been very social, and directly connected to all kinds of people!
However, in the last few years, I’ve noticed that a lot of the stuff I’ve been working on as a creative producer has been quite isolating, which has either seen me stuck behind studio doors working on my own, or it’s seen the work I’ve made stuck behind NDAs, or pre-production red tape, and so on…
I noticed a rise in this within my practice since the pandemic. During that period in time, some adapting took place. The kind of professional opportunities I had to turn to were, by definition, much more isolating! This generated an increase in these kinds of barriers… and although I’ve enjoyed all of that work, it’s a bit of a shame, especially as a large part of my practice is audience and engagement-focused - it’s about participation and interaction!
So, I decided to make a conscious effort to make sure that my next creative production would actively remedy this by design. I figured that I wanted to work on something that would connect me, and the work I produce, with lots of different people once again, but in a way that I haven’t done so before.
…and, with huge thanks to The Arts Council of Wales - I’m finally able to make that a reality. So today, I am very excited to announce - Cymeriad - a brand-new series of audiovisual portraits of the people of Wales.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this word, Cymeriad is the Welsh word for character, and that is exactly what this project is focused on - the characters of Wales - and the sharing of their stories, no matter how, happy or sad, funny or serious, direct or mysterious.
Now, the way in which I am going to do this is through the creation of a unique series of audiovisual portraits which will be made up of three elements:
1). A short story or anecdote from each participant. 2). A portrait illustration of their own likeness. 3). A piece of music that will be created as a soundtrack in response to the story.
By the end of the production period for this project, the aim is for there to be up to 50 audiovisual portraits featured in Volume 1 of Cymeriad… and we’re already well on our way! Over the last few weeks - with invaluable help from my fellow facilitators Kate Mercer, and Miles Warren - we’ve begun to reach some interesting people and community groups. And we’ve been doing this while working closely with project partners - mental health charity Mind, here in Newport, as well local charity, Our Chartist Heritage.
Through our community engagements so far, we’ve already started to uncover some really wonderful stories from some truly wonderful people.
And I have to say I just can’t wait to get stuck in with the rest of the production! Very soon we’ll be concluding the community outreach phase of this production, and I’ll be diving into the illustration phase - and then shortly after that - moving into the music production phase to create a unique soundtrack for each portrait.
Come the new year, all of these stories and portraits will be brought together as an exhibition - in the form of a physical gallery at The Place here in Newport, South Wales - as well as an online digital gallery and an exhibition book that will platform and champion the incredible people of Wales for a wider audience of people to engage with and enjoy.
So watch this space. There’s plenty more to come! Including an upcoming digital call-out for any of you currently living in wider parts of Wales who would like to be featured in Cymeriad!
Until then pobl :)