Arts Council of Wales/Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru

Cydlifiad

Mae’n ddefnyddiol meddwl am yr hyn sy’n digwydd yng Nghwm Elan fel cydlifiad.

Dyma drosiad defnyddiol i gyfeirio ar rymoedd yn llifo ac yn dod ynghyd gan esgor ar rywbeth sy’n amwys ar yr wyneb ond sy’n byrlymu o botensial a grym.

Mae’r dyfroedd sydd wedi’u cronni dan goncrid Claerwen, Garreg-ddu, Craig Goch, Penygarreg a Chaban-coch, wedi bod yn uchel dros ben dros y misoedd diwethaf. Wrth i ni syllu ar draws yr eangderau tywyll, mae’r arwynebau megis pyllau diderfyn sy’n creu’r ymdeimlad o jetlifau symudol fyny fry ac o newid yn yr hinsawdd – elfennau sy’n gyfuniad cynyddol gymhleth o law dyn a’r amgylchedd naturiol. Os mai dyna’r cefndir “macro”, o fewn amgylchedd “meiro” 45,000 o erwau sgwâr Cwm Elan, mae’r naturiol a’r hyn a grëwyd gan ddyn, arferion rheoli tir, ffermio mynydd, bywoliaeth ac amgylcheddaeth, y cwestiwn o adnoddau ac arferion hamdden, law yn llaw â’i gilydd.

Mae’r rhwydwaith o gronfeydd dŵr ymhlith rhyfeddodau peirianneg y cyfnod cyn y Rhyfel Byd Cyntaf, sy’n gwneud defnydd dyfeisgar o hyd a lled y dirwedd a disgyrchiant er mwyn sianelu cyflenwad dŵr i ddinas Birmingham. Bu dŵr yn rhan o ferw gwleidyddol Cymru ers canrif, ac yn rhyngwladol, mae’n cael ei ystyried yn destun gwrthdaro posib neu fudo gorfodol o ardaloedd sych. Mae Cwm Elan yn berthnasol i Gymru a’r byd, felly. Mae tawelwch tangnefeddus Cwm Elan yn lle addas i gnoi cil ar bethau – safleoedd llawn dŵr sydd hefyd yn llefydd i enaid gael llonydd, yn lleol ac yn rhyngwladol. A meddwl yn wahanol.

Cydlifiad rhwng dau sefydliad felly – Dŵr Cymru a Chyngor y Celfyddydau – lle mae syniadau’n llifo. Fel cwmni cyfleustod dielw, sy’n unigryw yn y DU, mae Dŵr Cymru yn ymroi i geisio gwella gwerth ei safle mwyniant a hamdden gwerthfawr ac ymgysylltu â’i ymwelwyr a’u hannog i grwydro ac archwilio mwy. Nod Cyngor y Celfyddydau yw meithrin y celfyddydau yng Nghymru, yn enwedig datblygu cyfleoedd a phosibiliadau i artistiaid o Gymru a chynyddu ein cyfalaf artistig ochr yn ochr ag ymagwedd eang tuag at gynaliadwyedd (www.celf.cymru/celf-yng- nghymru/ysbrydoli)

Byrdwn y prosiect, felly, yw dod â’r amcanion hyn at ei gilydd a chanfod cwrs
neu gyfeiriad mwy. Er mai sefydliadau pwrpasol yn y fan a’r lle yw Cynghorau Celfyddydol, rydym hefyd yn buddsoddi mewn gweithiau’r dyfodol gan artistiaid, ac wedi gweld manteision creu gofod i artistiaid synnu a herio eu hunain y tu hwnt i’r uniongyrchedd o greu “prosiect”. Dyma hanfod ein dyfarniadau Cymru Greadigol dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf. Ac mae datblygiadau Cwm Elan yn dilyn y llif hwn.

Gan gydweithio â Dŵr Cymru dros y tair blynedd cyntaf, buom yn treialu rhaglen breswyl ac encil i artistiaid gan edrych tua’r dyfodol a datblygu man ffisegol ar gyfer y gwaith hwn a llywio sut y gallwn ni fel sefydliadau drysori artistiaid fel rhan o waith a phrofiadau Cwm Elan.

Yn hytrach na bwrw iddi trwy gynnig a hysbysebu preswylfeydd penodol, penderfynwyd gwahodd artistiaid i fod yn rhan o broses ymchwil. Roeddem am roi cyfle iddyn nhw gyfrannu syniadau am botensial y rhaglen a chyflwyno profiadau a myfyrdodau a allai ddylanwadu ar y modd mae’r rhaglen yn esblygu. Aethom ati i sefydlu panel o guraduriaid gwadd ar sail gwybodaeth helaeth am ymarfer a phryderon nifer o artistiaid, wedi’u lleoli yng Nghymru ac yn rhyngwladol. Ar yr un pryd, mae’r broses hon yn dechrau creu rhwydweithiau gyda Chwm Elan yn ganolbwynt lleol a byd-eang iddynt, o bosib. Greddf yr
artist yw creu gwaith, a buom yn chwilio am gysylltiad sy’n darparu ymateb a dealltwriaeth artistig i’r her a’r ymarferoldeb o feddwl a threulio amser yn y lle hwn. Cawsom ymateb gwerth chweil gan yr artistiaid – yn meddwl fel un ac eto’n llawn syniadau amgen, ymarferol ac ymgysylltiol sy’n arwydd o’r hyn sy’n bosib.

Mae Dŵr Cymru ar fin datblygu Penygarreg, byngalo’r peiriannydd, felly mae meddwl amdano fel canolfan i artistiaid unigol neu grwpiau, fel rhyw fersiwn artistig o wyliau ‘cyfran gyfnodol’ yng Nghwm Elan, a datblygu dulliau gwahanol o ymgysylltu â’r cyhoedd, yn ehangu’r syniad cychwynnol gan artistiaid ac yn ei ddatblygu ymhellach gobeithio.

Mae’n llifeiriant meddyliol ar y cyd yn dychmygu rhywle sy’n cynnig ei hun fel man cyfarfod i artistiaid yn ogystal â llecyn ar gyfer y cyhoedd, staff ac ymwelwyr, lle gall sefydliadau eraill o fyd celf a hydroleg neu feysydd eraill gwrdd yn un ffrwd. Yn wir, rhywle y gall sefydliadau eraill ymuno fel rhanddeiliaid â’r fenter hon o feddwl er gwell tuag at y dyfodol. Fel Cyngor y Celfyddydau, does dim dwywaith y byddwn eisiau chwilio am ffyrdd o feithrin holl bosibiliadau’r lle, ond er mwyn sicrhau ei fod wedi’i gyfarparu’n ddigonol, bydd angen cyfraniad eraill i roi mwy o ddyfnder a dimensiynau pellach i’r prosiect. Wrth i’r prosiect ddatblygu’n ffisegol ac athronyddol, bydd angen i ni chwilio am yr atebion gweithredol a rheoliadol gorau i lywio’r cydlifiad hwn.

Mae Cwm Elan yn ein cymell i feddwl yn yr un modd â Ralph Waldo Emerson, y bardd athronydd o America: “The only mode of obtaining an answer to these questions of the senses is to forego all low curiosity, and, accepting the tide of being which floats us into the secret of nature, work and live, work and live,…as the water of the globe is all one sea, and, truly seen, its tide is one.”

Cwestiynau mawr, heb os, ond rhai y credwn y gall Cwm Elan eu datgloi yn y blynyddoedd nesaf diolch i’r cyrch cychwynnol hwn o artistiaid a’u syniadaeth.

David Alston,
Cyfarwyddwr Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru.

A confluence

It is helpful to think of what is happening in Elan as a confluence.

It is a useful watery metaphor around a coming together of forces and a flowing together which points up something hard to spot on the surface but forceful and powerful, brimming, as it were, with potential.

The waters captured in the reservoirs of Claerwen, Garreg Ddu, Craig Goch, Pen y Garreg, and Caban Coch, have felt particularly high over the last few months. And as we stare across their dark expanses, surfaces seem to be infinity pools invoking the effects of shifting jet streams in skies above, and of climate change combining now in the increasing complexity of the environmental and the man made. If that is the “macro” backdrop, within the “micro” environment of Elan’s 45,000 square acres, the natural and the fabricated, practices in land management, upland farming, livelihoods and environmentalism, questions of resource and leisure, all coexist.

The network of reservoirs are a wonder of the world of pre First World War engineering which ingeniously use the lie of the land and gravity to channel a water supply to Birmingham. The politics of water have run deep in Wales over the last century and now the politics of water in the global context are seen as a touchstone potentially for conflict or enforced migrations from areas of drought. Elan has both a place in Wales and in a global dialogue. The peace and tranquillity and scenery of Elan should fittingly be a place of reflection, the reservoirs are of water but also potentially sites of thinking, locally and globally. And thinking differently.

So then, a confluence of two institutions – Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water and Arts Council of Wales and a flow of ideas. The water authority is, uniquely in the UK, a not-for -profit utility company, and seeks to improve the amenity value of its precious site and engage and stimulate its visitors to explore more. An Arts Council for its part, is seeking to develop the arts in Wales and particularly is committed in its current thinking, captured in its Inspire document, to development opportunities and possibilities for Wales based artists and the increase our artistic capital alongside broad approaches to sustainability. (http:// http://www.arts.wales/arts-in-wales/inspire )

The project, then, is about bringing together such objectives and finding a greater course. Arts Councils are purposive institutions in the here and now, but we are also investors in future work from artists and have found benefit in creating space for artists to surprise and challenge themselves outside of the immediacy of delivering “a project”. This has been the hallmark of our Creative Wales strand of awards over the last few years. And developments at Elan stand in this flow.

Over an initial three years, working with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, we have together embarked on piloting what a residency and artists’ retreat programme could be with an eye to the longer term and developing a physical base for this work and a shaping of how we both as institutions could value artists in the mix of Elan’s work and experiences.

Rather than go straight out with advertised and pre- or pro-scribed residencies, we chose to invite artists to be part of a research phase. We wanted them to contribute to thinking about potential and from their practice, pitch in with reflection and experiences which could have a bearing on how the programme could evolve.

We convened a curatorial panel and proceeded by invitation based on extensive knowledge of the recent practice and concerns of a number of artists, both Wales based and international. At the same time this process begins to open out what networks Elan could sit at the heart of, locally and globally. Artists’ instinct is to make work and we have looked for an engagement that provides artistic reaction and understanding of the challenges and particularities of thinking and spending time in this place. The artists have richly rewarded us in what we sought – thinking at one and the same time that is left-field, practical, engaged, and indicative of ambitions we can feel are justified.

Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water stand poised to develop Pen-y-Garreg, the Engineer’s Bungalow, so thinking of this as a base by turns for individual artists, or for groups to do the artistic equivalent of a “time share” at Elan, and to develop the different modalities of public engagement stimulated by artists’ presence, now opens out and hopefully flows from this initial “sourcing” of ideas from artists.

Our joint thought streams envisage a place which can offer itself as a meeting place for artists and the place’s publics, staff and visitors, a place where other institutions in arts or hydrology or various other disciplines and interdisciplinary practices can also flow together, and indeed where other institutions can become stakeholders

in this enterprise around thinking better for the future. As an Arts Council, I have no doubt we will want to find ways of fostering what can happen here, but know too that to resource it well, we will need the participation of others to deepen and give further dimensions to the project. And as this develops physically and philosophically, we will need to also find the best-fit by way of an operational and management vessel to navigate this confluence.

Along with the American poet philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elan prompts us to think that: “The only mode of obtaining an answer to these questions of the senses is to forego all low curiosity, and, accepting the tide of being which floats us into the secret of nature, work and live, work and live,…as the water of the globe is all one sea, and, truly seen, its tide is one.”

Big questions but ones we feel Elan can perhaps unlock in the coming years prompted by this initial foray of artists and their insights.

David Alston,
Arts Director Arts Council of Wales

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Arts Council of Wales has teamed up with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water to create a three year artist in residency programme for aspiring and leading artists at the company’s flagship Elan Valley estate in Powys.

Mae Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru wedi mynd yn bartner â Dŵr Cymru i greu rhaglen breswyl tair blynedd i artistiaid y dyfodol a rhai ar y brig ar ystâd arobryn y cwmni yng Nghwm Elan ym Mhowys.

Unknown-1Unknownwww.artswales.org.uk

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