Between October 2015 and April 2016, Thomas Goddard is resident at Parc le Breos Cwm on the Gower, working with the community to discover more about the Neolithic monument and the surrounding landscape. Cadw’s Heritage and Arts Manager, Dr. Ffion Reynolds asks Thomas a few questions about his plans:
1. Explain to us what kind of work you do and what you have been doing up to this point.
My practice is diverse and includes performance, design, film and social engagement. Changing our typical view of the 'artist', I use the tools of the explorer, journalist, monster hunter, filmmaker and teacher. My work is embedded in creating or reinterpreting archival research, developing new ways to engage the public and continually connecting with the idea of journey; all of my work has a unifying principle.
In 2010 I did a project called Cerbyd, that had a collaborative community at its core however it also became an apocalyptic pilgrimage across my country. A journey of survival, it was about shared experiences which can make us closer and understand one another better.
In April 2015 I received a Creative Wales award and was artist in residence for Standpoint Futures in London. Recent exhibitions include Bad Wolf at Standpoint Gallery and Be More Brando at Mostyn.
Recent commissions include a series of posters exploring Wakefields Heritage for Axis Web and a public art commission for Locws International - The Life, Death and Afterlife of Lizzie the Elephant combining image, performance and participation. Last year I was BBC artist in residence and was commissioned to create a film based around 24hr news by Outcasting, BBC and The Space.
I am also the Learning & Participation Officer at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and have been recognised nationally for my work in gallery education receiving a Marsh Award for excellence.
2. Over the next few months you are going to be researching and spending time unravelling the history and archaeology of Parc le Breos Cwm to the communities that live around it. Where did this initial interest in Parc le Breos Cwm come from and where are you hoping to take your research during your residency?
My work responds to geographical locations focusing on what is often unseen within communities. I enjoy interrogating our shared history and questioning what is accepted knowledge as a way to re-think the relationship between art and society. I do this through creating opportunities for genuine public participation that is fun, engaging and for all.
I was drawn to Parc le Breos Cwm as it provides many insights into the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods that I would like to engage with. The various discoveries of human and animals remains, along with items such as bronze, rock painting and pottery will provide rich and intriguing content to work with and develop during the residency. These clues to how human's from bygone and other worldly eras would have lived make this an exciting project and, as with much of my practice, will become tools to connect people, through contemporary engagement methods, with their locality, creating a sense of place, history and humility.
3. What interested you about the opportunity to be an Artist in Residence at Parc le Breos Cwm?
The residency is very unique and will be a wonderful opportunity to investigate and inhabit the life of Neolithic man. It seems a perfect fit for my practice as it offers ways to engage with the community, archives, geography and our shared history.
My approach to the residency at Parc le Breos Cwm will be to undertake a sustained period of research and use the things I learn and find out as tools to engage the community with the historical context of the site.
4. Is it important for you to interact with the local community and Community First groups during a residency? In what way?
My approach to learning and engagement underpins everything that I do and therefore the way that I work artistically. Practically I believe in involving participants in the creation of works of art so they can take ownership, become engaged and empowered.
I want the community to come with me on a journey of discovery about Neolithic man and everything that encompassed their way of life in the period.
We will work together to create a shelter, investigate hunting, create ceremonies, feast together and monuments to the dead. We will observe the moon and stars. There will be lots of opportunities to be part of my project.
I am aiming for the community to take on one of the events and continue it as a legacy to the residency.
5. What can we expect to see from you throughout your residency at Parc le Breos Cwm?
I explore the relationship between place, community, culture and fiction.
Using the amazing context of Parc le Breos I will create fascinating experiences for the whole community. This will be recorded and enhanced by short films and documentary whilst other research based content created in situ with the community will be uploaded frequently online.
At the end of the residency I hope to screen the films at La Charrette, the smallest cinema in Wales, in the Gower Heritage Centre, Parkmill creating a public event to celebrate both the residency activities and the Parc le Breos Cwm site.
As part of their residencies, Thomas will be working with a Community First group(s) through a series of events, demonstrations and workshops based on their working practices. Watch this space for opportunities to see them at the site. Thomas will be tracking the progress of his research throughout the residency. Keep your eyes peeled on his project page to see what he's up to.