‘What art does clearly is engage with our emotions; it connects to the emotions and
the spirit and can build images of the future that can both frighten and inspire’.
21st March 2011
The third Emergence event in Galeri, Caernarfon followed hot on the heels of the second on 21st March 2011. Arranging another event so soon after the Swansea conference on ‘Interconnectivity’ was in some ways foolhardy as it greatly stretched our energy and resources. However the speedy turnaround also meant that the narrative could really continue to develop. The intention of Caernarfon ‘Resilience’ was to focus on activism, however it was also important that the three conferences had space and flexibility to develop organically.
We were interested in trying to unpick the often unhelpful word ‘sustainability’, whilst at the same time trying to find ways to define the concept of emergence and casting ourselves forward into the future. It might be argued that in order to kick-start the conversation around the role of the arts in co-creating a sustainable future we should have one conversation in all three places – Cardiff, Swansea and Caernarfon. This conversation could then be repeated in as many different places as possible. This would be one strategy but instead we chose with each event to develop the narrative.
Each conference was a learning process for everyone involved and each influenced the nature, form and content of the next. These three events could in some way be said to illustrate emergent learning. Emergence was not then and is not still an organization – it is a focus, a spotlight, a roof or umbrella, under which to collect and converse.
Emergence had organised two events in South Wales and had not provided simultaneous translation (largely due to funds) at either, so it became crucial to create an event which put both English and Welsh on the same footing. At this stage we began to think about bilingualism within the context of sustainability, what it might mean and what opportunities it might offer us to think differently about the subject. In the shadow of the knowledge of species extinction the loss of language is yet another example of how our planet is becoming less rich in diversity. As we began to consider biodiversity and emergence it became evident that resilience develops in a system as a consequence of increased diversity. In this way bilingualism had a deep-rooted meaning for the project. The emergent theme of ‘resilience’ appeared to arise out of the first and second event of its own accord. We began to look for speakers local to North Wales and from farther afield who could speak to this theme and interpret it in their own ways.
Although the smallest of the events run so far, it was one of the most exciting. The mix of science and art was central to the event, as was the marrying of Welsh and English and the synthesis of utopian dreaming with down-to-earth projects.
“Our best laid plans will come to nothing, but our improvisations will be brilliant”
“An artist cannot create strategies but he or she can create the space for
strategies to work”
Fern was born in London and now lives in Swansea, South Wales. After studying for a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Industrial Relations she formed Volcano Theatre Company with Paul Davies in the 1980’s.
Since then Fern has performed, directed and taught workshops for Volcano and as a freelancer nationally and internationally for 25 years. Fern is co-initiator and creative producer of Emergence.
fern [at] emergence-uk.org
Cynnal Cymru / Sustain Wales
Bedwyr Williams’ work includes stand-up comedy, sculpture and painting, posters and photography. He draws on his own experiences and his take on the world is simultaneously satirical and deadly serious; he reveals both his and our own complex neurosis and idiosyncrasies. His
installation, text based works and live performances explore subject matter ranging from growing up in Colwyn Bay with size 13 feet, to a mini bus crash with four other artists in residence (in which he is the only survivor).
His recent solo exhibition NIMROD further exposes the ludicrous fears that drive and restrain us all and is a great example of entire environments that he creates. Through this broad range of media, a strong sense of surrealistic humour and a sharp critical mind, he explores notions of what it means to be an artist born, living and working in the regions. He makes work relevant to a sense of place and belonging but simultaneously refuses to be compromised or pigeon-holed by provincial tastes or stereotypes.
Jean Boulton is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management and Bath and Bristol Universities. She is Chair of Sustain Ltd (a leading carbon reduction company), and until recently was Chair of Social Action for Health. She is a member of the Green Arts Network in Bristol. Trained as a physicist, Jean speaks and writes about the connection between science and the arts and spirituality – in particular focusing on complexity and evolutionary theory and how these ideas help us to work with issues of sustainability and resilience. She helps organisations transform and also has a keen interest in social policy.
Menna Elfyn is an award-winning poet and playwright who writes with passion of the Welsh language and identity. She is the best known and most translated of all modern Welsh- language poets. Author of over twenty books of poetry including Aderyn Bach Mewn Llaw (1990), winner of a Welsh Arts Council Prize; the bilingual Eucalyptus: Detholiad o Gerddi /
Selected Poems 1978-1994 from Gomer and her previous collection, Cell Angel (1996) from Bloodaxe, children’s novels and educational books, numerous stage, radio and television plays, she has also written libretti for US and UK composers. In 1999, she co-wrote ‘Garden of Light’, a choral symphony for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra which was performed at the Lincoln Centre in New York. She received a Creative Arts Award in 2008 to write a book on ‘Sleep’. Menna is Director of the Masters Programme in Creative Writing at Trinity University, Carmarthen and is Literary Fellow at Swansea University. In April 2010, Sunflowers in your Eyes, an anthology of four Zimbabwean women poets edited by Elfyn, will appear from Cinnamon Press. In 2009, she was awarded the International Anima Istranza Foreign Prize for Poetry in Sardinia.
When not travelling the world for readings or television work and theatre productions, she lives in Llandysul.
Eluned Hâf is Director of Wales Arts International, the international arm of Arts Council of Wales and a partnership with British Council. Eluned sits on the Management Board of Arts Council as well as the Welsh Assembly Government’s Art Strategy Board.
Originally from Bontnewydd near Caernarfon, she was the founder of una, a communications company specialising in international cultural projects, partnerships and European funding. A journalist by training, Eluned has worked for BBC Wales, Reuters, ITV regions and S4C. She speaks five languages and worked as a press officer in the European Parliament.
Eric was born in Australia but came to Britain with his family aged 11. After completing his formal education in social psychology he set out to travel the world in two years. It took him ten. The last few years of that time he spent working as a bush artist in the remote Aboriginal communities of Central Australia. This was a turning point. Since returning to Britain he’s become a storyteller and author, with a dozen children’s picture books in print. He is also a singer- songwriter and has recorded a couple of recent albums, ‘Full of Life’ and ‘Rare and Precious Earth.’ He is currently touring three storytelling and music shows to inspire action to protect the Earth for future generations – ‘What the Bees Know,’ ‘Fire under the Stars’ and ‘The Listening Bone.’ See www.ericmaddern.co.uk
For the last 25 years Eric has lived in Fachwen near Llanberis where, with help from friends, he has created the Cae Mabon Eco-Retreat Centre. Set in a beautiful forest clearing by a rushing river it hosts retreats and workshops with overall themes of healing and creativity – on singing, storytelling, yoga, meditation, green spirituality, environmental awareness
and rites of passage. In 2008, Sustain magazine declared Cae Mabon ‘number one natural building project in the UK’ and called it ‘a Welsh Shangri-La.’
Dr Einir Young is Acting Director of Bangor University’s Welsh Institute for Natural Resources (WINR) and Head of Sustainable Development. She is Director of Synnwyr Busnes Business Sense – a research & consultancy group specialising in Sustainable Development, based within WINR. She takes a lead within Bangor University on sustainability issues and is a member of the sustainability implementation group, and chairs the University’s Sustainability Forum. Einir’s interests lie with working with organisations to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses with regard to sustainable development and to help them identify and implement improvements where needed, examining business functions including social, environmental and financial aspects.
Einir is passionate about developing Welsh medium capability and believes language and culture are as much a part of sustainability as ‘green’ issues.