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  • Alice Briggs

Verges of the Rheidol / Ymylon y Rheidol

‘Verges of the Rheidol’ is Connect and Flourish R&D project funded by Arts Council of Wales with the intention to use creative action for social impact.

Our partnership is formed by myself Zoe Quick as lead artists alongside Aber Food Surplus and the Summit to Sea project, evolved from connections forged through the ‘Sheep’ exhibition at Ceredigion Museum (2019) that I curated to build mutual trust within farming communities of Ceredigion. The project has developed from the grassroots of Ceredigion life, comprising well. we are uniquely placed to connect divergent cultural ecological perspectives and cultivate bilingual multilingual conversations crucial to generating resilience, recognising the key role agriculture plays in continuation of the Welsh language.

There have been few recent projects in the arts that target the Cambrian uplands. Our partnership starts from frustration with top-down governance of the environment and economy and a bureaucracy-heavy place-based regeneration effort. By contrast, we will celebrate things already done well locally, promoting change that is collaborative and sensitive to community experience and aspirations, and generating-empowering a collective voice to converse with national/global institutions and organisations.

Before the impacts of Covid-19, Brexit marked a point of change, threatening the sheep farming industry, upland culture and the Welsh language, whilst climate change has forced a review of our relations with nature. Alice-Briggs created the Future Landscapes symposium (May 2019) which facilitated difficult conversations about these topics amongst a wide range of stakeholders. This led to the formation of Cynefin, (an alliance of land practitioners) and People’s Practice (using a tool which can radically galvanise knowledge sharing and change) at Ceredigion Museum. The resulting report (Briggs 2020) fed into the Welsh-Government Land Management review.

The varied expertise of partners in this project generates discursive links between cultural archives, practices of gleaning, and sites/practices of food -use and production, opening up new opportunities for creatively exploring links between diverse communities along the Rheidol.

The project aims are:

  • The delivery of a public-art project as a platform which will remain as a lasting intervention.

  • A project to inform policy-making going forward, using art as a medium for listening and creating safe spaces for discussion.

  • Trial different methods of consultation that are respectful and value based. Eg “How do we have conversations that aren’t just about them and us?”

Aber-Food-Surplus (lead partner) is a grass-roots organisation working with volunteers and community stakeholders to increase local food-systems resilience and provide healthy diets and a fair return for farmers. They were recently recognised by the Aber First Awards for engaging the community in growing.

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