On Friday 25 March, Cadw welcomed 13 pupils from members from Llangatwg Community School to enjoy a couple of hours exploring the local Neath Abbey site, while learning some photography skills along the way, linking in to Cadw’s wider Winter of Wellbeing activity.
Arriving by minibus the group were excited as they came onto the abbey, which was founded in 1130 by Norman knight Sir Richard de Granville. Virtually the entire layout of the abbey and its buildings can still be seen today, confirming the sheer scale of this prosperous religious settlement and it didn’t take long for the group to start engaging with much of it in artistic ways.
Local photographer Andy Davies gave an introduction to photo-graphy, or light-drawing, and how we perceive the world through images, enabling the group to explore the arches, stones and spaces with purpose to practise their new-found photography skills; some with mobile phones, others with cameras, with another choosing to interpret the learning and the site through paper and pencils.
It was lovely to see how the initial excitement soon turned into calm, creative attention, as the young people settled into the open space and immersed themselves and shared creative ideas and history around the site. Learners who can so easily labelled by their individual learning needs, creating art that was as imaginative as it was skilled in its execution and having safe fun in a historic setting, in a pupil-centred way.
It will be interesting to see how these images are interpreted and celebrated back in the school setting. Hopefully some of the pupils will be able to use the site as an open classroom again in the future.
This, with other recent photography workshops is helping to inform a new photography resource that, once completed, support others to explore photography around heritage sites and tie into our Arts Award Supporter offer. The visit also supports a key element of the organisation’s vision: A Wales where our historic places are cared for, understood and shared by everyone. If you would like further information on how you or your group can get involved, please contact: Cadw.Education@gov.wales
Llangatwg Community School is a relatively small school of around 770 pupils ranging from the ages of 11 - 16 that serves both the Neath and Dulais Valleys together with the villages of Cilfrew and Cadoxton. The school is proud of the support they offer their learners, including those with additional learning needs, with support, guidance and interventions tailored to meet the needs of each individual learner delivered in a pupil-centred way.