Inspiring fires — Parc le Breos art project teaches pupils prehistoric skills

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Children from Hafod Primary School in Swansea got a taste of the Neolithic period today (24 February), as award-winning artist Tom Goddard and outdoor expert Andrew Price brought ancient traditions to life at Parc le Breos Burial Chamber on the Gower peninsula.

Parc le Breos © Adam Stanford

Parc le Breos © Adam Stanford

During the ‘wilderness workshop’ — a special event initiated by Tom Goddard in his role as Artist in Residence at Parc le Breos — the year 2 pupils were taught fire-lighting techniques and shown how to build their own shelter using materials from the nearby woodland.

The workshop is part of a series of events that will give over 400 people from Communities First groups and schools in Swansea the chance to get hands-on with ancient heritage — and discover the rituals that connect 21st century people with their prehistoric predecessors.

The inventive project is the result of a partnership between the Welsh Government’s historic environment service (Cadw), Arts Council of Wales and the Gower Landscape Partnership.

It is part of the Fusion: tackling poverty through culture programme, which encourages Communities First groups to take an active part in the arts, culture and heritage. Six Pioneer Areas have been established across Wales, bringing together cultural organisations and offering exciting new opportunities from volunteering to accredited training to people living in Communities First areas.  

Tom Goddard, the winner of 2015’s Creative Wales Award, said: “This unique residency is a wonderful opportunity to investigate and inhabit the lives of Neolithic people — and to find unexpected connections with how we live today.

“It’s a great fit for my creative approach, as I like to engage with the community, the local archives, the landscape and the relationship between people and places, before portraying stories in film.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with the schoolchildren and Andrew Price of Dryad Bushcraft on today’s event, which is a good example of how a simple and fun activity like building a fire can also be a gateway to understanding our shared past.”

During his six-month residency, Tom Goddard will film sessions with Swansea-based Communities First groups including Super Dads and the I Can Youth Project. The resulting documentary will be screened in Parkmill’s La Charrette — Wales’s smallest cinema — in April.

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, said: “Through this innovative Communities First art and engagement project, our Artist in Residence has created ‘hands on’ experiences for a diverse group of people to better understand and enjoy their local heritage in an active and creative way.

“Culture, heritage and the arts play powerful roles in people’s lives, and being outdoors, learning valuable skills and making new friends are all experiences and adventures that improve people’s sense of wellbeing. This project shows that blending these elements in an imaginative way can have a positive impact on a whole community — and boost skills, self-esteem and aspiration.”

In addition to April’s film screening, members of the public can also get involved in Tom Goddard’s inventive project by attending the Parc le Breos Burial Chamber spring equinox celebration — a free event that will be held at the ancient site on 19 March.