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  • Wales Stories | www.26treasures.com
    remove it from its cool chamber for a few minutes so that I could take a closer look at its contents She also revealed two or three further inches of the scroll so that I could stare in wonder at the mysterious symbols savour names such as Enoch and Caynan follow the green and red lines tracing the ancient links and appreciate the elegant concise writing in italics Present day distractions seemed to melt from view and when I noticed that parts of the vellum were riddled with worm holes and that the names of Noah s sons could be seen clearly in the midst of the delicate mesh my imagination rallied and started to spread its wings On my return home I followed this up with some research on Edward IV It seems that his own mother started spreading rumours that he was an illegitimate child after he insisted on marrying a widow by the name of Elizabeth Woodville a woman beneath contempt in his mother s eyes Was that the origin of this particular pedigree Was it produced as a result of the King s express wish or more likely his order Was this an attempt by Edward IV to anchor himself firmly in an honourable lineage in the face of his mother s attempts to blacken his name Kinship Family Lineage As genealogy websites such as Ancestry become increasingly popular as well as a variety of TV programmes on the same subject it seems that tracing our family tree is still as important to us as nuclear families as it was to Edward IV during the second half of the fifteenth century The latest technology has certainly made the process of tracing our ancestors simpler than ever But who or what awaits us nestling between the various branches Trysor Ach ar femrwn o linell frenhinol Prydain a Lloegr o Adda i Edward IV ail hanner y bymthegfed ganrif Llinach Gwreiddyn ein gofyn i gyd Pwy wyf i O frenin i r werin turiwn rhwng plygion hen femrynau ein bysedd yn dawnsio dros y clytwaith cnotiog pwythau r genynnau n edafedd gwydn dan ein dwylo Dadrolio r sgrôl anystwyth hir nes canfod yn disgwyl amdanom yn ei phen draw Adda ei hun Yn dyllau pryfed byw Staen tywyll ac wyneb cwyr A chwestiwn lond ei galon Addasiad gan Adaptation by Paul Henry Lineage since the age of Adam Lineage Who am I Root the centuries for an answer From King Primate to refugee I scratched the parched earth for water food unstitching my lineage from the cracked plains believing in it Here read this read my dead palm Who am I An unravelled scroll of hunger With Darwin tattooed on my brow Flies bore into me settle on my son s eyes Rhaid dweud fod fy nghalon wedi suddo rhyw gymaint pan dynnwyd fy nhrysor i allan o r het yn lansiad y cynllun 26 Trysor yn y Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Roedd un o sylfaenwyr y grŵp 26 gwreiddiol

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/wales/creationstories/528 (2016-02-12)
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  • Wales Stories | www.26treasures.com
    an object The task was to create a sestude of 62 words describing my response to the piece There were another 13 Welsh speaking writers All 26 pieces were to be translated from English into Welsh and vice versa The magnificent room in which we assembled for the draw was full of treasures ancient books parchment maps line drawings a floor to ceiling vivid red raw painting that dominated the room through its size and intensity I got paired with the painting The painting turned out to be by an award winning contemporary Welsh artist Shani Rhys James I had not come across her before my loss The work Studio with Gloves is a self portrait of the artist working in her studio Two aspects of the painting struck me initially the floor of the studio is covered in discarded white latex protective gloves the artist is a small hunched haunted figure a red raw object only just in the frame staring at the camera but with eyes averted as if focused on something disturbing outside the frame of the canvas that encloses her As I travelled back on the train to my home in NE Wales I found myself fascinated by both aspects but dwelling on the gloves I acquired a very good introduction to her work through Edward Lucie Smith s the black cot a retrospective of her work It described her paintings generally as raw It acknowledged that artists work with dangerous and toxic substances and suggested that the gloves prevalent in Rhys James work were representative of this danger and perhaps symbolic of fear in general This enabled me to put the gloves to one side and fix on what was for me the key to the picture the object to which Shani s staring eyes are drawn Some of her work seemed to relate to childhood memories and there are recurring images of a child seemingly trapped in a cot with black railings on all sides set against a stark black background They spoke to me of sadness isolation pain and unrequited love This touched a chord in me with memories of some aspects of my own childhood I finally wrote my sestude by chance on a family holiday on the south east coast of Ireland at a place where I had spent many holidays in childhood We stayed at the same cottage as on those far away holidays As I strode along by the sea in a wild Irish summer I wrote and rewrote these 62 lines many times over I felt a responsibility to the artist and I wanted to get it right The tone of the piece was certainly set by the painting itself but I feel the setting in which I finally penned the lines had some impact too I love this part of Ireland it s a certain part of my life in time and space and memories of time spent there are both dark and light Perhaps the ghostly

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/wales/creationstories/523 (2016-02-12)
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  • Wales Stories | www.26treasures.com
    Valmorbida A great fall The National Library of Wales is a fortress Built in an era when libraries were bastions of power and aspiration it stands on a hill and towers over the tiny visitor climbing steps and slopes to reach it After a quest like journey from London I arrive to meet my treasure it s an innocent looking illustrated booklet Humpty Dumpty Here in seven languages is that quaint old nursery rhyme about mortality what happens when the big eggy character falls off his wall Nothing and no one can put him back together again But this is no moral tale for children It s a political pamphlet satirising the king s favourite another character whose collapse is unstoppable and whose restoration is impossible Who knows who this person was He has disappeared from history and may not be identified again His fall from favour is followed by his fall into obscurity The library s wise curators handle Humpty with white gloves Our corrosive fingertips contain oil and acid and dirt The artefact s description points to its fragility some slight soiling a damp stain to the upper right hand corner and a crack running vertically through the centre It s a recent acquisition so it s destined for a purifying spell in the conservation department They will try to hold off further deterioration Once we ve all been paired with our treasures and we love them instantly we re treated to a private tour of the library Hey this massive stronghold contains the world s smallest book Old King Cole at just one millimetre square I m still marvelling at this tiny fact when we descend into the vaults The engineering gets serious Literally tons of hi tech concrete and steel roofing Walls within walls Carbon dioxide

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/wales/creationstories/511 (2016-02-12)
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  • Wales Stories | www.26treasures.com
    was looking forward to exploring it again I wasn t sure what to expect from my treasure I knew only that it was a photograph entitled Two Sisters of Llanfechell A journey of discovery in all senses of the word Once I d satisfied the guardians and divested myself of all worldly baggage save for my notepad and pen I approached the desk in the South Reading Room and asked to see my treasure Eventually it was unearthed and I was ushered through another security gate to a desk There was a sense of ritual unveiling as the librarian opened the box and took the photograph out from its tissue paper covering The library was still but not silent As I looked at the photograph I could hear the rustle of pages being turned the sound of someone typing a couple of desk away A whisper of conversation about a census drifted towards me although I didn t catch the year they were looking for Llanfechell is a small village near Anglesey The photograph which was taken around 1875 is of two servant girls Cadi and Sioned They re seated and sitting bolt upright in a typical Victorian pose What s interesting is that they re both holding items in their lap as if they ve just stopped work It was their gaze that struck me most The older looking sister on the left of the photograph seems to be looking at something at something else behind the photographer while the younger sister stares straight at the lens When you look closely at the image it feels as though she s looking back at you Hers is a steely gaze suggesting a strong proud character The story of the man behind the camera is in many ways even more intriguing than the photograph The image was taken by John Thomas who according to Iwan Meical Jones in A Welsh Way of Life became one of the best known men in Victorian Wales Thomas 1838 1905 was a labourer s son from Cellan Cardiganshire After a stint at a draper s in Liverpool he became a travelling salesman At that time small photographs of celebrities also known as carte de visite photographs were becoming popular and were very profitable Thomas saw a gap in the market for photographs of celebrated Welsh figures and set about learning the basics of photography before starting his own business As it grew Thomas was also able to indulge his own interests Welsh culture was very important to him and he was keen to capture the traditional way of life before it was lost largely down to the expansion of the railways in Wales in the 1860s which brought about a huge change in society Thomas travelled widely for many years taking pictures of people and landscapes which represented everyday life in Wales at that time The photograph of Cadi and Sioned was taken during one of these journeys Because the character of the sisters came

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/wales/creationstories/505 (2016-02-12)
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  • Wales Stories | www.26treasures.com
    Word List Chris Bird In the long room we sit silently almost reverently fidgeting a little as we wait for our names to be matched with our treasures It s a lucky dip with the treasure drawn first And in the pause between the naming of a treasure and the announcement of a writer s name my heart flutters a little as I imagine how it might feel to keep company with say the two sisters of Llanfechell Humpty Dumpty little Mary Dilwyn or painter Siani Rhys James One by one treasures are matched with other writers many of them including Gillian Clarke the Welsh Poet Laureate Welsh speaking and proper Welsh Whereas I born in Newport that most English of Welsh towns and brought up in Gloucestershire have only one Welsh word Dim No I m tempted to use it when with only a smattering of strips left the Dylan Thomas word list is announced and I m paired with the Welsh national treasure I m given a couple of hours to get to know my treasure before it s returned to the temperature controlled vaults that crowd the National Library s lower levels I study the stained and crumpled A4 page in front of me with its rough columns of words etched in Thomas crabbed hand Assonance and alliteration rhymes and coupled consonants jostle on the page and the 26 letters of the alphabet march in sturdy capitals across the bottom of the page It seems providential People are kind Sally Baker from Ty Newydd the National Writers Centre offers to send me Mererid Hopwood s Singing in Chains which discusses cynghanedd the complex traditional Welsh verse form And John Simmons and Anita Holford suggest I visit Dylan Thomas boathouse at Laugharne The next morning I set off for Laugharne walking in drizzle along an overgrown coastal path that s bathed in bottle green light watching gulls circle the grey waters of the bay and a lone heron spearing fish in the shallows When the stench of wild garlic drives me on I visit Thomas writing shed on stilts and the boathouse where he lived with Caitlin and the children from 1949 until his death in 1953 I pore over photographs paintings and texts on Thomas and his life watching an atmospheric black and white film and buying a couple of biographies before I leave My skin begins to prickle I think I may be getting somewhere A couple of weeks later I finish the biographies and Singing in Chains deciding to not even attempt cynghanedd focusing instead on the assonance alliteration and rhyming of the word list I work out that Poem on his Birthday the poem for which Thomas produced the word list was supposed to celebrate his 35th birthday but heavily in debt battered from too much booze and too many cigarettes with serious woman trouble and slowly mending after breaking various bones in falls he didn t finish it till he was 37 just

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/wales/creationstories/498 (2016-02-12)
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  • Wales Stories | www.26treasures.com
    album s pages There was a young girl in this snow scene who Presumably not MaryDilwyn A man looking like the gardener a man with a shovel And the snowman stood next to the girl I presumed that Mary Dilwyn was behind the camera taking the shot with the eyes of a child Swansea 1853 it said I printed out the shot from the Library s website It came out brown and white Had it faded to this or was this the original colour of the print I took the image with me to a writing retreat in the south of France I was approaching this image from a position of some ignorance but 26 Treasures demands a personal not a scholarly response What feelings did the image arouse in me There was just the glimmer of a thought about melting snow and the image melting at the edges What got me started was the thought of Gerard Manley Hopkins poem Spring and fall I d been listening to Natalie Merchant s beautiful musical version of it with its opening lines Margaret are you grieving Over Goldengrove unleaving The poem is a meditation on mortality It seemed an appropriate thought for a photographic image taken by a long dead child of a snowman that still lives in the album its snow never captured in the melting frozen in time The first two lines or a version of them came rapidly to me The lines also gave me the cadence almost endlessly repeatable in English of the present participle ending of ing It seemed naturally to shift the attention as a photographer might from Mary to another character previously out of sight To myself The present participle gave the sense of movement I wanted of change something still living My memory shifting from snow scene caught through antique lens to glimpses in my mind of snow falling then melting then the earth coming back to life and colour The words were laying on my page line upon line nearing the 62 word limit I guessed I wanted to bring in a third viewpoint my daughter Jessie Even from an early age she had loved taking pictures with a camera She has as they say an eye Now she s grown up and is a professional photographer I addressed the last few lines to her thinking of her ability to see more and capture more through a photo than meets the average eye The first version was done It was too long inevitably I had to play what I called poetic hokey cokey you put one word in one word out shake it all about The editing process focused particularly on the verbs at the end of each line trying to make sure that each of these had special meaning for this poem and its theme So the first only couplet formed as weeping sleeping I wanted to have a true couplet s sense of completeness it s there fixed put away

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/wales/creationstories/443 (2016-02-12)
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  • Wales Stories | www.26treasures.com
    me would find the map confusing because it almost has a double life I also found that its truth eventually found to be a lie had a significance in terms of my own beliefs about the world and the people in it The distance from Rome to Ulm The map was labelled Ptolemy 200 A D Prima Europe Tabula Ulm Johann Reger 1486 So although it was created in Roman times the map wasn t printed until 1 200 years later Why I wondered And why would people at that time have been interested in using something that was 1 200 years out of date The more I found out the more my response to the map was about things particularly distances being not what they might seem and as a big music fan I couldn t resist the Arctic Monkey s reference the title is a play on their single Whatever people say I am that s what I m not Ptolemy wasn t in fact a Roman he was a Greek who lived in Alexandria Egypt And he wasn t just a geographer he was an astronomer More confusingly what he created wasn t a map but a book called Geographia which was full of co ordinates and place names It contained a mathematical method for creating a flat map of the world His system was the first known projection of the map as a globe the first to use latitude and longitude and its principles have shaped the way maps are made today Amongst these and many other fascinating facts the map expert at the National Library of Wales thank you Huw also told me that the well known Columbus story about having to convince the church leaders that he wouldn t fall off the edge of the earth was untrue People knew the world was round long before that What they were actually arguing about was the size of the circumference of the earth But getting back to Ptolemy his book was lost in the fall of Rome rediscovered after the fall of Constantinople and taken to Italy By this time in the late 1400s people were emerging from the Middle Dark Ages It was the Renaissance and there was a rediscovery and rebirth of the classical knowledge that had been lost when the Roman Empire collapsed There was a thirst for exploration and great mariners like Columbus set off on epic journeys to learn more about the world By this time the printing press had also been invented which made it possible to print these classical works and distribute them to a wider audience In this case Johann Reger a printer based in Ulm employed a cartographer artist to create maps from Ptolemy s manuscript which were then printed into bound volumes Truth or lies The rediscovery of Ptolemy s method was a huge step forward for map making but even so it was wrong He underestimated the circumference of the earth and overestimated the

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/wales/creationstories/421 (2016-02-12)
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  • Wales Blogs | www.26treasures.com
    of the stories behind the finished pieces in the Creation Stories section Aeth cenaduron y Llyfrgell Genedlaethol ati i ddewis 26 gwrthrych er mwyn adlewyrchu amrywiaeth eu casgliadau o recordiadau sain i fapiau o lyfrau canoloesol i ffilmiau ac o albymau lluniau i bamffledi hanesyddol Bu r awduron maes o law yn ysgrifennu union 62 gair o ymateb i un o r gwrthrychau gyda u hanner yn ysgrifennu yn y

    Original URL path: http://www.26treasures.com/wales/blog/%2A (2016-02-12)
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