An exhibition sponsored by Bethan Sayed AM Senedd & Pierhead 8 January – 20 February
‘Cartographic Imaginaries’ presents a collection of commissioned artwork in response to twelve English language novels set in Wales. These form part of the wider Literary Atlas of Wales project, which investigates how books and maps help us understand the spatial nature of the human condition. More specifically it explores how English language novels set in Wales contribute to our understanding of the real-and-imagined nature of the country, its history, and its communities.
In the commission brief, artists were invited to “play with traditional notions of cartographic mapping, and to explore the possibilities of visually communicating the relations between ‘page’ and ‘place’, as well as ‘books’ and ‘maps’.”
Through diverse approaches, each work proves that just as there is no single way to read a book or to know a place; each creates and inhabits its own unique ‘cartographic imaginary’. Yet together, the works embrace multiple voices that speak of the richness of writing, thinking, and inhabiting “real-and-imagined” Wales.
Steve Knapik MBE tells
us all about his exhibition, ‘A Postcard from Wales’ which is opening at the
Senedd on the 27th of July 2019.
I am an artist, but I am also passionate about my work with
the Blue Balloon Children’s Charity. Through this charity, many people work
hard to improve children’s lives in Wales.
A few years ago, I wanted to help Blue Balloon by organising a huge art
project to create a very, very big landscape artwork; so big in fact, that I
hoped to break the Guinness World Record for the Longest Continuing Landscape
artwork. I knew that this would be a lot of work, so I asked for help from many
different people, including primary school pupils, groups supporting people
living with dementia, and pupils from schools for those with additional needs.
It was important to me to get a range of people involved so that we could make
sure that the project was inclusive and welcoming to all.
We worked hard for five years. It took a lot of work to
organise everything, but it was worth it when I could see the excitement and
enjoyment on everyone’s face. If we were to break the Guinness World
Record we needed at least 30,000
drawings, so there was a lot of work to be done! Each drawing had lines showing
where the mountains and sky were, and this meant that the drawings could be
joined together to create one large joined artwork. I saw a lot of creative
talent and imaginative ways of thinking about our landscapes. For example, some
primary school children used blocks of coloured stripes to represent fields.
Everyone was excited about our World Record attempt. Even
the Liberty Stadium in Swansea was ready for us to display over 5 miles of
original, joined up drawings…
And then, bad news! We discovered that our project couldn’t
be registered as a World Record. I felt very sad and disappointed. What was I
going to do with all these fantastic drawings? But I was determined not to be
defeated. These amazing artworks deserved to be on display. I needed an iconic,
important building to show the talent and creativity that I had seen in
children all over Wales.
I got in touch with the National Assembly for Wales and I
met Alice, who is a curator there. She works with artists to organise
exhibitions. Where better for these brilliant artworks than the Senedd, the
home of democracy in Wales, where people make important decisions about what
happens in our country? Alice and I met a few times to come up with the best
solution to display the artwork in the Senedd, and finally we were ready to put
the exhibition together for everyone to enjoy.
I feel that the Senedd will be the perfect place to show our
artwork, and I am looking forward to getting even more people involved, by
encouraging visitors to the Senedd to make postcards to send, and to celebrate
a lot of exciting things that are happening at the Assembly this year…
The 20th Anniversary of
the National Assembly for Wales.
It was such
an honour to be chosen to be part of this important celebration. The National
Assembly for Wales was created twenty years ago, and the Senedd is the perfect
place for a big celebration. The building is open to the public, and I’m very
pleased to ask YOU the public to come in and take part in creating your
own, unique landscape to continue the project. I hope you have as much fun as
over 30,000 children and adults had before you, taking part in our project.
The Welsh Youth
In February this year the Welsh Youth Parliament, made of 60
young people aged 11 – 18, met for the first time. We want to help celebrate
this wonderful event and stand alongside the 60 members who represent every
part of Wales. Each member has a big interest in a part of life that affects
young people today. It is so important for our young people to have a voice,
and the Youth Parliament work hard to make sure that that voice is heard. Some
members of the Youth Parliament even took part in my project when they were at
In many ways the motto of the Blue Balloon Children’s
charity, ‘Today’s hope for a better tomorrow’ can also be applied to these
young people who represent the voices of all young people in Wales –helping to make a difference.
The Arts as part of
our Welsh identity.
Wales as a nation has a strong sense of belonging and
identity. This is shown in so many ways, especially through the arts. We
celebrate Wales as the Land of Song, so music is a strong part of our heritage;
but so are poetry, drama and the visual arts. Inspiration comes from many
sources. Artists have for many centuries been fascinated by the landscapes of
Wales: the mountains, sea and sky.
It is important that we take a close look at our immediate
environment, and whilst talking to people young and less young throughout the
project, we talked about many issues that are having an effect on where we
live. The environment around us can help to start discussion, and we showed our
feelings about our environment through our landscape artworks. We must never
lose sight of the importance the arts plays in society and how it can be very
positive for our wellbeing and sense of who we are.