Pobl Y Ffin\People of the Border is a community art project that involves the village of Chirk and the surrounding hamlets of Whitehurst, Pentre and Black Park. It’s a celebration of life on the border of Wales and England through the arts. It will entail lead practitioners in Art, music, film and writing\poetry overseeing different elements in an exhibition that we hope can continue as a legacy for future generations and be added to as time goes on.
What do we want to do? What is The Aim of the collective?
The village we live in – Chirk is a microcosm of all life, and after this awful year of death, loss, unemployment, poverty and hopelessness, we hope that we as an art collective in this community we can join together to make something worthwhile.
This will be a real community project FOR and BY the people of Chirk, to involve everyone who would like to take part in remembering and knowing the people who made and make up this community, the old and young, the bad and good, Trans, neurodivergent, ethnically diverse, deaf and like our lead artist, disabled.
The Past, present, and our future
Our aim is not to ‘memorialise’ the community of Chirk, but rather something we all need now, a celebration of LIFE of the ordinary people of Chirk, for the people, by the people through Art, Poetry, Music, Writing and Photography.
We are Welsh after all!
Over the last Year our lead Art practitioner Tina has approached several local people (and a few non local professional free-lance artists, musicians, writers and poets) and made ‘open calls’ to form the ‘People of the Border’ Collective. At the moment there are 17 of us, ranging in age from 16 to 80, and with diverse talents such as organisation, drawing, photography, music and poetry.
As a collective People of the Border will be an ‘umbrella’ for these artists to achieve a common goal, but use their own ideas, initiative and practice to collaborate with each other and the wider community to achieve our aim.
We are gathering old photographs from 1900 to present day to be part of the exhibition. Ordinary every day photos of our community throughout time, in the garden, birthdays, weddings, Christmas, parties, families and friends. Our photographers are snapping pictures of people in chirk today. The project will be collaborating with and guided by the Peoples Collection Wales to ensure that everything we find will be kept for future generations. We are also collaborating with Chirk castle and hopefully other local historical places such as Brynkinallt Hall, The Parish Church of St Mary’s and the Old Mill near the border .
From the photos and memories that are shared, our writers, poets and musicians will (hopefully!) be inspired to write and compose. As a community project there will be leads but this will be open to everyone to take part, we want to encourage all people of all ages, creeds and sexes to feel a part of this as they are the community we are reflecting. So If you’d like to join in – Welcome! (drop us an email or contact us on Facebook).
Our aim is to make two short films, one will incorporate selected found and newly taken photos and have some narration, poetry, and music in. The other film will a documentary and capture the process of creating Pobl Y Ffin, documenting moments such as people being photographed, interviews with residents and subjects, working in Chirk Castle and Brynkinallt, engaging musicians, writers and artists as they create, and finally examining people’s reaction and experience to the art show and the artists endeavour at the end of the exhibition. This film will be available once the main exhibition is finished.
These films will be shared online so everyone can access them freely via the internet, our own website and YouTube.
We also hope in the future to project these films via ‘Mapping’ on selected venues such as Chirk castle.
The narrated film will be projected inside the art venue (Black Park Chapel).
The group hopes this project will have a long life, with the addition of a website we hope to encourage people to continue to take part in our social history, to make their own art, take photos, write and even sing about our diverse, wonderful community and be able to access it online for future generations (Peoples collection Wales will help us with this).
The art project – content
Photographs – Old photos from 1900 to present day
Local historian Graham Greasley has joined our collective and has a huge collection of local photographs. Graham will be our ‘photo-guardian’ and all copies/scans (with permission) of all photos donated will go into his care, as part of his collection and also be available on the website for the public. We also hope to use (with permission) Flickr, The People’s collection Wales and The People’s archive. These online resources are free to use and have a vast amount of ‘found’ photos from around the world, including our village.
We will also include Old photos of people in/from the hamlets of Black Park, Pentre and Whitehurst community.
These photos will be made up from ‘old’ photos of people in/from Chirk, Black Park Pentre and Whitehurst communities.
This will involve the WHOLE community as they look through their own photos and share them. We want to celebrate the ‘ordinary’. Fetes, weddings, parties, Christmas, just everyday photos of family life, and under Graham’s direction will include members of our ‘historical’ community now passed but still remembered.
These photos will be scanned, enlarged and printed onto suitable photographic paper.
Some will be printed on ‘alternative’ materials such as aluminium, wood, plastic depending on other artist collective member’s ideas. We want to be as sustainable as possible and re-use as much as we can.
We also hope to engage and involve with our local churches, and 2 local schools (based in chirk) on photos, history (of the people in the photos) and printing ideas, and also the assisted living facility in Chirk, Chirk Court who residents no doubt have a wealth of knowledge and memories to share with us.
Local amateur and professional freelance photographers will Photograph people in the community NOW.
Some will not be posed, but naturalistic, others will be posed, for example there are several large families – we hope to gather the siblings together for a photo. We are also getting requests from chirk residents to come along and take pictures of elderly residents who have no internet access from social media posts asking our community to engage and spread the word.
‘Chirk through history’ Photos
Chirk has a fantastic historical heritage.
We’re lucky to have not only a beautiful Hall – Brynkinallt (owned By Lord Trevor) but a castle! (Chirk Castle owned by The National Trust). Both have been contacted in order to involve them in some (or several!) ways. We also have several other historical house such as Park Hall Farm and a wonderfully gothic church yard with a beautiful crypt.
Lead Artist Tina’s practice will come alive here along with Hayley Garrod (photographer) they hope to use these settings (interior and exterior) to create ‘time’ Photographs and artwork, that is, posing contemporary residents of Chirk in historical settings, for example, a Renaissance type photo in Chirk Castle. From these photos and the other ‘found’ photos our artists will paint portraits.
As the main portrait artist Tina will be painting portraits of selected people. This will all be from Photos (old and new) at the Moment no one will pose ‘live’ due to covid and also because of her physical disabilities (she is also clinically vulnerable).
Tina will complete one or two full portraits in paint, and several ink paintings of subjects both from old and new photographs (time allowing she will continue to paint people as long as possible!).
Debi Lightwood (artist) has made a start on some portraiture and will continue, and we hope that several more artists will take part in this endeavour as the project continues.
Dave will start filming as soon as the project starts.
There will be two films.
Film one will be a documentary chronicling the process of creating the Pobl Y ffin project culminating in capturing people’s thoughts once the audience/participants and artists have seen the final show. This film will more or less follow the whole creative process by following the project practitioners as they create content based on their own individual areas of expertise and show how each of them came to put together their final work. It will also include interviews with members of the chirk community, and the artists, writers and musicians at work, as well as reactions and thoughts of the chirk community once they have seen the final project.
Film 2 will include as many images as possible (photo montage). Dave will make a film, about 10 – 15 minutes in length, this will have some narrative, poetry, and music all produced in collaboration with collective members.
Film two (Documentary) will be shared online and perhaps in a local cinema/venue (Black Park Chapel) after the initial show has taken place. This will prolong interest in Pobl Y Ffin and also be available for anyone to watch.
Freelance musicians Steve Hywyn Jones (formerly of Welsh band Brodyr Y Ffin), Wesley Thompson (Napoleon and Climates bands), and Andy Boulton (Tokyo Blade band) have agreed to take part in this project, either individually or through some collaboration. They will produce music as they are inspired by the photos, stories and art work we gather for the project. We’re hoping for a song!
Poetry and Narrative
The narrative will comprise of recordings of people’s memories, these will be collected (covid allowing) over the span of the project and will be available as stand-alone recordings on the website, and also sections will be used as narrative on the film.
Will take place in Black Park Chapel. This converted chapel is a large converted Airy space which is ideal for an art exhibition. It is also divided into 2 sections one section may be where all the physical media will be hung. Section 2 will house the film ‘experience’.
We also hope to have a permanent ‘Online’ Presence with the creation of a dedicated website for Pobl Y Ffin.
Bridget Drukker (Art Venue owner), Tina Rogers (Artist), Debi Lightwood (Artist), Laura Jones (Artist), Steve Hywyn Jones (Musician), Wesley Thompson (Musician) , Andy Bolton (musician), Graham Greasley (Historian), Nic Dafis (Historian), Dave Robinson (Documentary filmmaker), Hayley Garrod (photographer), Roy Barry (photographer), Alan Roberts (Photographer), Ethan Gilbert (photographer), Sara Wheeler (writer and Poet), Anke Jones (Writer and poet), Jennie Rogers (writer), Grainne Logue (Dublin, Poet).