Applied Art Residency Valle Crucis Abbey Llangollen

Friday 02 November 2012

Applied Art Residency Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen

Applied Art Residency Valle Crucis Abbey Llangollen

The residency is part of a collaborative partnership between Cadw, Welsh Government’s historic environment service and Arts Council of Wales.

Brief for applicants
Bursary: £15,000 for 6 months starting February 2013

We are inviting applications from contemporary applied artists based in the UK and overseas who wish to develop their practice within the context of one of Cadw’s historic monuments.

This project is part of a new programme of residencies which has been developed through a strategic partnership between Arts Council of Wales and Cadw. The partnership between the two organisations provides the foundation for the creation of innovative arts and heritage projects.

Aim of the residency

To transform the visitors’ experience at Valle Crucis Abbey by challenging the traditional image and perception of heritage through applied art interventions that interpret the site and connect with contemporary audiences.

The residency will engage a contemporary applied artist of international recognition and profile to respond to the heritage character and cultural significance of Cadw’s historic monuments and Valle Crucis in particular, it will:

• Enable the selected artist to immerse themselves in the site of Valle Crucis Abbey and create new work that responds to the context of the historic monument

• Inspire public interest in creative practice

• Raise the profile of contemporary applied art practice

• Undertake an imaginative project to engage the public

• Create links between the ways people typically interact with Cadw’s historic monuments and contemporary applied art practice


The Site

Hosted by Cadw, the residency is based at the Cistercian Abbey of Valle Crucis which lies just a few miles outside the International Eisteddfod town of Llangollen at the foot of the steep climb to the Horseshoe Pass. Its elegant eye-catching ruins sit on the west bank of a little stream which eventually feeds into the River Dee. In the 1790s, the scene was captured by J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851): other artists in search of the Picturesque and Romantic also visited the abbey including Paul Sanby (d.1809) and John Sell Cotman
(d. 1842).

Founded on 28 January 1201 by Madog ap Gruffudd Maelor who ruled northern Powys the abbey’s Latin name  ‘Valley of the Cross’ is derived from the Pillar of Eliseg and the remains of the cross-shaft stand on a small hillock a few hundred metres to the north of the abbey site.

The serene and peaceful setting of Valle Crucis Abbey is typical of other sites chosen by the austere Cistercian order. The abbey itself contains many original and beautiful architectural details with stone-work such as rose windows, a feature favoured by the Cistercians, an elaborately decorated stone screen which fronts the book cupboard and a stone rib-vaulted chapter house. There is also a collection of carved memorial stones dating from the Middle Ages.

The abbey attracts visitors from across Wales, the UK and internationally and the site is popular with local residents and with holidaymakers, including those from the caravan site next door who visit the site regularly during the summer. Valle Crucis Abbey offers contemporary artists a wealth of experiences, images and history to inform the development of contemporary applied arts.

Cadw’s vision for the arts is outlined below:

• Cadw plans to work with the arts to increase the appreciation, understanding and animation of the sites in our care, to enable us to connect with growing and different audiences.

• We aim to develop projects, activities and events that will use the arts to inspire our staff and visitors to think about monuments and sites in a different way. We want to create new perspectives and new ways of considering and looking at Cadw monuments.

• We want the arts to offer different experiences that will open up other questions, understandings and responses to enhance the interpretation of our monuments.

• We aspire to engage in a new dialogue, within Cadw and with our visitors, one that can be provocative, enjoyable and enriching.

This opportunity is open to UK and international artists

We are looking for an applied art practitioner who is working at the forefront of their discipline, pushing the boundaries of their art form either through their innovative use of materials, the scale or the ephemeral, temporary nature of their work or its process led approach. We are looking for someone who can adopt a range of different roles and who is keen to draw upon the resources of Cadw and Valle Crucis Abbey and who has a capability and enthusiasim for entering into a dialogue with the public.

The selected artist will respond to the particular context of Valle Crucis Abbey and research and develop work that will transform the visitors’ experience.
The presentation of work during the residency is not restricted to a conventional exhibition format and for example could take the form of a performance or temporary installation.

Social media might be used to promote the project and to increase its profile and accessibility via Facebook, You Tube and other virtual networks that will connect local communities, new and regular visitors from across the UK and our international visitors worldwide. We also hope that the project will build a greater understanding of Welsh heritage and culture by local communities who will be connected to each other through celebrating their local distinctiveness. It is expected that the results of the residency will be shown at the National Eisteddfod in August 2013.

Applicants must demonstrate:

1. Creative originality and professionalism in their work

2. Ambition and the ability to challenge perceptions and push at the boundaries of contemporary applied art practice

3. An understanding and desire to work within the heritage context as part of their creative practice, demonstrating ideas for innovative ways to respond to opportunities to work within Cadw’s historic monuments

4. An understanding and desire to respond to the public in the context of an historic monument within a bilingual community

5. Dynamic and inspiring ideas about how they would use this opportunity to develop their practice and how they intend to meet the aims

This project is being delivered in accordance with Welsh Language Strategy 2012-17 and a sensitivity to and interest in the Welsh language, history and culture is essential.


The Residency Studio will be based in the Summer House in the grounds of Valle Crucis. The summer house includes two rooms which can be adapted to the needs of the individual artist.


The artist will be paid £15,000.This fee is inclusive of travel costs within the residency time and accommodation. A separate budget will be allocated for additional material cost

Cadw as the host will provide:

• Project management

• Dedicated studio space

• Access to relevant support people and equipment on site and via Cadw HQ

• Appropriate space on site for engaging Cadw visitors / schools

• Link to Cadw, Arts Council websites for ongoing progress with work (blog, etc...) and presentation of final work

• Assistance in locating accommodation

Selection process

• A panel of representatives from Cadw, the Arts Council of Wales and
external experts will carry out the selection.

• Short-listed candidates will be expected to present their ideas and vision for what the residency will deliver.

• Applicants will be short-listed from the images and supporting information and those selected will be invited for interview.

• Interviews will take place on 11 December 2012, at Valle Crucis
Abbey or at a venue in Llangollen or Ruthin.

• Candidates must be available for interview on this date.

To apply

You are asked to write a letter of application that broadly outlines why you are interested in this opportunity and how it is relevant to your practice.

In addition you are asked to submit the following documents in support of your application:

• An up to date CV (no longer than 2 sides of A4)

• Two letters of support

• Up to 10 digital images of recent work on CD. All work should be numbered and include title, date, dimension and media.

Please note the deadline for applications is 9 November 2012 and applications by email will not be considered.

If you have any queries regarding the recruitment process, you can contact Susan Mason, Lifelong Learning Manager at the contact details below.

Please send your application in hard copy to:

Susan Mason, Lifelong Learning Manager
Applied Arts Residency Application Valle Crucis Abbey
Plas Carew
Unit 5/7 Cefn Coed
Parc Nantgarw
Cardiff CF15 7QQ

Pennaeth Dysgu Gydol Oes / Head of Lifelong Learning
Ymgysylltu â'r Cyhoedd a Llywodraethu / Public Engagement and
Governance,Cadw, Llywodraeth Cymru / Cadw, Welsh Government
Swyddfa / Office: 0300 062 5844