It Was 40 Years Ago Today

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A research project devoted to uncovering and archiving the history of Performance Art in Wales.

Prosiect ymchwil i ddadorchuddio ac archifo hanes Celf Perfformio yng Nghymru.

Winner of the David Bradby TaPRA Award for Research in International Theatre and Performance 2011.

If you have any information on performance in Wales that could be of use to the project, please get in touch!

Whether you are an artist who has made performance work in Wales, or an audience member who once witnessed a performance (voluntarily or involuntarily!), we would be pleased to hear from you.
Any material will be of interest - from actual pieces of documentation to vague memories of events caught out of the corner of one's eye.
mail@performance-wales.org

Cysylltwch â ni os oes gennych unrhyw wybodaeth am berfformio yng Nghymru a allai fod o ddefnydd i'r prosiect!

Efallai eich bod yn artist sydd wedi gwneud gwaith perfformio yng Nghymru, neu'n aelod o gynulleidfa a welodd berfformiad unwaith (o'ch gwirfodd neu'n anwirfoddol!). Pwy bynnag ydych chi, hoffem glywed gennych.
Bydd unrhyw ddeunydd o ddiddordeb - o ddogfennau gwreiddiol i atgofion amwys am ddigwyddiadau a welwyd o gornel y llygad.
Mae'r manylion cyswllt wedi'u rhestru dan 'Cyswllt' yma, neu gallwch anfon e-bost i'r cyfeiriad hwn: mail@performance-wales.org

Project Director Cyfarwyddwr Prosiect: Heike Roms
Dept Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University
Adran Astudiaethau Theatr, Ffilm a Theledu Prifysgol

Contact: Professor Heike Roms
Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies
Adran Astudiaethau Theatr, Ffilm a Theledu Prifysgol
Aberystwyth University
Adeilad Parry-Williams Building
Aberystwyth SY23 3AJ,
UK phone ffon: (+44) 1970 - 621911 (direct uniongyrchol) mail@performance-wales.org

Funded by Wedi ei drawsgronni gan:
ARTS AND HUMANITIES RESEARCH COUNCIL (AHRC) (2009-2011)
(CYNGOR YMCHWIL Y CELFYDDYDAU A’R DYNIAETHAU) (2009-2011)
ARTS COUNCIL OF WALES (ACW) (2006-2008)
CYNGOR CELFYDDYDAU CYMRU (CCC) (2006-2008)
SIR DAVID HUGHES PARRY AWARD 2006, 2008
ABERYSTWYTH UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FUND (2007)

AHRC logo and link to website

Aberystwyth University Logo and link to website

Arts Council Wales logo and link to website

National Lottery Logo

Copyright © 2011 All Rights Reserved
Hawlfraint © 2011 Cedwir pob hawl

What's Welsh for Performance? Beth yw 'performance' yn Gymraeg?

:15 events from 15 years: 1977

:1965 :1966 :1967 :1968 :1969 :1970 :1971 :1972 :1973 :1974 :1975 :1976 :1977 :1978 :1979

                

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Paul Davies

Welsh Not

1 - 6 August 1977

Wrexham

Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Wrecsam a'r Cylch 1977.

Staged as intervention into How the Past Perishes - How the Future Becomes/ Fel y darfu'r gorffennol - fel y del y dyfodol - Performance Art Festival, Welsh Arts Council, Wrexham Eisteddfod 1977; curated by Caroline Tisdall with Timothy Emlyn Jones

[Photos: left: photographer unknown, © Paul Davies estate. right: © Lewis Allen]

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'The timetable of the whole event and the nature of the performance was nonetheless interrupted by an impromptu happening after Mario Merz had completed his piece for piano, lazer beam, rose and coal sacks. He moved towards Paul Davies who at that moment was holding something like a railway sleeper above his head. On it were burnt the letters 'WN'('Welsh Not') which referred to the punishment for speaking Welsh in school and enforced within living memory. As it happened the chorus of the national anthem was coming through the loud speakers and although Merz does not understand Welsh he gave out phonetic improvisations as he moved around Davies. Paul Davies had already had an argument with a middle-aged man who had emigrated from North Wales to New Zealand and was now accusing the native artist of 'stirring it up'. Though talk of Rota Rua, ice-cold beer, kiwis and All Blacks made peace, the disruption added a new dimension. It showed too that Davies possesses a power of feeling which he expressed both symbolically and in argument and which was most relevant to the Eisteddfod. He felt enough to be a kind of flagellant.
(Ivor Davies, 'The Welsh Arts Councils Performance Pavilion at the National Eisteddfod', in Link 9, Autumn 1977)

1977: Amid the amplified cultural bustle of the National Eisteddfod at Rhosllannerchrugog Paul Davies stands, holding aloft a heavy wooden railway sleeper into which are cut the letters W N (Welsh Not). His unofficial performance intervenes in the controversial programme of international performance art staged by the Welsh Arts Council. The event symbolises the penalisation of Welsh in the past and its continuing loss as a mother language to many Welsh people, including him self. It signals his determination to take art practice into the arena of politics. The wooden hunk is later to be carved into the form of a love spoon.

"... what I did in fact do was attack the bloody Welsh Not with an axe and turn it into a love spoon. The Welsh Not became the Love Spoon, this is another ancient Welsh symbol and in a way it's a progenitor of the Welsh Beca pieces which came out of these sets of Eisteddfodau with my brother in discussions." (Paul Davies in conversation with Ivor Davies, Link Sept/Oct 1986)
(Hourahane, Shelagh. 'A Continuing Presence: A Profile of Paul Davies (1947-93)'. Planet. 130 (1998): 38.)

 

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For more information on the event and on its available documentation search our database.

Or listen to our oral history conversation about the event.