Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Artist's commission to create wooden sculpture in Cwmbran

The Ancient Cwmbran and the Cistercians Partnership are commissioning an artist to create a wooden sculpture of the well loved and infamous 6th century Celtic Church Warrior Saint, Derfel.

The project is part of a Heritage Lottery Funded project which will research the Ancient history of Cwmbran and aims to encourage local communities to become engaged with the history and culture surrounding them. The sculpture will be used to raise awareness of Cwmbran's early medieval history and to celebrate this local Celtic Saint commemorated in early April of each year on St Derfels Day.

The following historical content of this commission needs to be observed by the commissioned Artist:

Derfel is celebrated within Early Medieval Welsh poetry as a follower of the famous King Arthur and one of only seven survivors of King Arthur's 6th century, last battle at Camlan, the poem describes that Derfel survived through the strength of his spear.

Derfel is said to of retired into the church after the said battle and to of built two churches in Wales one in North Wales at what is now Llanderfel village and the other here in Cwmbran within what was the Lordship of Caerleon and finally he became the bishop of Bardsey Island (the island of 20,000 saints).

Both churches became sites of pilgrimage in the medieval period and thousands of pilgrims every year within the pilgrim season visited these shrines to pray to St Derfel, as it appears to of been a tradition that Derfel could enter Hell and retrieve the lost soul of a relative of the praying pilgrim.

Later Medieval Tudor history records and describes a wooden stature of St Derfel with a legend attached to it that if it burnt it would burn down a forest was taken from Wales under the orders of King Henry V111 Bishop of London who described the Welsh devotion to such statures as the "idol worship of gargoyles" to be used as the part of the funeral pyre at the public burning of a Franciscan Friar the confessor of Catherine of Aragon a one John Forest for refusing to except King Henry V111 as the supreme head of the Church of England.

The artist will be required to liaise with community volunteers in the project's Art Group and the project officer and attend some of the workshops aimed at examining local Iron Age design, use of wood in figurative work, and the use of religious idols in the past. It is anticipated that the ideas and artwork created in the workshops could be used to influence the design a sculpture of St Derfel, made from wood. The public should be allowed access to the working process of the sculptor as part of the project.

The sculpture should be transportable and will be displayed across several sites within the Cwmbran area as part of the St Derfel celebrations and educational aspects of the project. The sculpture will then have a permanent home in Thornhill Community Centre.

A total of £4,000 is available to include all artists fees, expenses, materials and installation costs*. Fees will be payable on the completion of this phases of the project, to be set out in an agreement with the Ancient Cwmbran and the Cistercians Partnership.

The brief will be sent to suitably qualified artists from whom three will be selected for interview by members of The Ancient Cwmbran and The Cistercians Partnership Board and volunteers from the project's Art Group. The successful artist will be expected to develop ideas for the project in workshop sessions with the volunteers of the Art Group. These ideas will then need to be approved by the Board before the final sculpture is created.


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