So it wasn’t to be. Swansea wont be the UK city of culture in 2021. It will be Coventry. How disappointing.
We went down to a venue on the High Street called the Hyst to see the result announced live on BBC TV. There was a lot of excitement and cautious hope. We had to wait 20 minutes whilst we endured what must have been the dullest ever TV show called “The One Show”.
The winner was going to be made at the end of the show. In the meantime, I looked around for clues that it might be Swansea’s night, such as famous artist-media-types or interested journalists. There were none. The few people that looked like reporters looked as bored as we felt having to watch a TV programme interviewing some people about Master Chef (a competition cookery show) and then a segment about a new battleship. At this point some “livelier” members of the crowd booed the footage of ex-Tory MP, Gyles Brandreth.
When the announcement was finally made the chap reading it didn’t bother with the usual fake suspense you see on “I’m a Celebrity” of “X-factor”. He just opened the envelope and read it out. Coventry. A massive groan went up! There may even have been few more boos but then a polite round of applause went round for the winning city. If it was decided on the numbers of people each city got to come out to hear the result, Coventry won hands down. There were plenty of people in Swansea but Coventry had a seemed to have lot more maybe, hundreds of supporters. So good luck to Coventry.
We still have plenty of culture here in Swansea but I’m very sad that Michael Sheen won’t get to do his production in Swansea now. It all reminds me of why I don’t get involved in sports, its very depressing when your side don’t win!!
Swansea is nervously awaiting to hear on Thursday if its has been selected as UK city of Culture 2021. We know that no UK city can be a European city of culture thanks to Brexit. Swansea has made the short list before and lost out to Hull. This time the other shortlisted cities are Coventry, Paisley and Stoke (Coventry is the bookies’ favourite at 7/4).
These are all post-industrial cities looking for a boost and Swansea would use the title well. This city is full of talented artists, writers and musicians. There is more to Swansea than Dylan Thomas and Kingsley Amis. These are the things that come to mind (in no particular order). We have a fantastic bay (second largest in Europe) with a very long sandy beach. We have a beautiful art school, two universities, and about 100 artists studios in the town centre, we have the Glynn Vivan Art Galley, Elysium Art Gallery, Mission Gallery, Volcano Theatre Group, Dylan Thomas Theatre, The Dylan Thomas exhbition in the Dylan Thomas Centre, Dylan Thomas house and trail, the Grand Theatre, Nawr experimental music gigs, several music venues in the Uplands, Swansea Museum, the Martime Museum, the Egypt Centre, Gower Festival, Troublemakers’ Festival, Gower Folk Festival, Blue Grass Festival and I know I have forgotten lots of other things like Premiership football team.
Award winning Egypt Centre
If we win, actor Michael Sheen, has promised a city-wide theatre production like the brilliant “The Passion” Easter production in Port Talbot in 2011. There are many other events planned too.
There is so much talent here and Swansea would really flourish given half a chance. The bookies have placed us at 10/1 but I have my fingers crossed that Swansea will get to be the first Welsh UK city of culture tomorrow. Pob Lwc, Abertawe!
A great way to see art on your doorstep is to visit open studio events. Often these studios are in the artists’ homes. But not always. This weekend saw Swansea’s Elysium gallery’s 10th-anniversary celebrations. Elysium has grown steadily over the past decade and as well as running a Gallery and two international competitions its provides affordable studio space in 3 city-centre locations for up to 100 artists. This weekend there were open studio events throughout the day in the city centre. Today I am going to share photos from the studios in Mansel Street.
Mansel Street Studios – a set of studios on two floors above a mid-century parade of shops. There was a beautiful wooden staircase. It is home to painters, textile designers, painters and a gnome.
Ann Jordan – Photographs do not begin to do justice to her work. The wall hanging was fabulous – it was massive and luxurious. Originally made for an installation in a lighthouse at Portishead, the flowers were meant to evoke the flowers cast on waters for a sea burial. Very poignant.
The fleece work was also magnificent – the texture and depth of each piece just does not come across in a photo. They were wonderfully thick and woolly; being made up of raw Welsh fleeces from Brecon.
The Crunch is a multimedia poetry magazine –Each issue features a single poet, who has three of their poems filmed and uploaded to our video archive, and joins us for a short podcast. We chatted with Richard James Jones, a very talented poet. Poets he tells us, need quiet places away from the humdrum cares of the home, to come and think and work.
Carys Evans – has a wonderful large studio with windows that reach from the ceiling to floor. She has an exhibition in Cardiff later this month at the Oriel Kooywood Gallery in Museum Place.
Graham Parker – Painter and campaigner. Graham is fascinated by the sea that skirts Swansea Bay but for some reason, it was his paintings of lemons that took my fancy.
Amir A Nejad – his studio wasn’t participating, which is a shame but his stunning portraits lined the corridors.
My next blog will be about the High Street Studios.