Kate Mercer Photography - Blog

Red Route – Made in Spring 2016

13 May 2016, Posted by kate_mercer in Cardiff, Commercial, Community, Out & About

Over the first May spring bank holiday, I was invited by the team behind Made in Roath in Cardiff to document their annual Red Route March from Red House in Merthyr Tydfil, all the way to Plasnewydd Road in Roath as part of their community festival, Made in Spring. Held annually, Made in Roath is a unique and exciting experience for all members of the community in Cardiff and beyond to get involved in and celebrate the arts.

A unique 27 mile march along the Taff Trail, the event explored the importance of culture in our society. With specially commissioned artworks and performances along the way, this event explores the richness and diversity that art has within our culture and the importance it has within our community, whether it be through tradition, heritage or rejuvenation.

Starting at Red House, Dafydd Williams‘ work “We Are Ghosts” was exhibited especially in Merthyr over the 2 days of the march. Using his homemade 8” x 10” large format camera, Dafydd has photographed the decaying and unnoticed buildings from the late 19th and early 20th century that still survive in the Gwent area. This body of work has toured various venues across South Wales in 2016, and was a real pleasure to see in Red House as the starting point of the march.

Together, he and Zosia Krasnowolska run the The Kickplate Project an initiative that works to bring art directly into the lives and communities of those people who have been told that art “is not for them” bringing high-quality international photography to places that don’t have a permanent gallery, as well as show artists that are perhaps part of the alternative art world. You can find out more about The Kickplate Project here: http://thekickplateproject.blogspot.co.uk/

 

G.B. WALES, Merthyr Tydfil. Walkers gather for the Red Route march organised by Made in Roath at Red House Cymru. Greg Cullen speaks to all about the importance of art and culture in society. In exhibition, Daffydd Williams' "We are Ghosts" hang from the ceiling around the group. (2016).

G.B. WALES, Merthyr Tydfil. Walkers gather for the Red Route march organised by Made in Roath at Red House Cymru. Greg Cullen speaks to all about the importance of art and culture in society. In exhibition, Daffydd Williams’ “We are Ghosts” hang from the ceiling around the group. (2016).

Subtly reinforcing the words of Greg Cullen, the work arguably mirrored the dangers of what is left behind when glory fades away. Speaking about the importance of continually investing in our communities, to preserve and pass on the values and traditions, the value these resources have must be maintained in order to support the foundations of future generations. Without investment and constant renewal, whether it be culture, industry, employment or other opportunities life presents us, the world as we know it threatens to wither, fade, decay and fall away. A powerful starting point from which the march to begin.

Adorned in lead artist Sean Puleston‘s red rags – a symbol of protest, a political relic, a symbol of solidarity, strength and purose – and following behind James Cocks’ protest banner ‘I am walking for culture’, our group marched our way through Merthyr, Aberfan, Pontygwaith, Abercynon, Pontypridd and finally onto Taff’s Well over Day 1.

G.B. WALES, Merthyr Tydfil. Walkers on the Red Route march by Made in Roath leave Red House Cymru as they start their walk along the Taff Trail. (2016)

G.B. WALES, Merthyr Tydfil. Walkers on the Red Route march by Made in Roath leave Red House Cymru as they start their walk along the Taff Trail. (2016)

At Aberfan, we found packets of seed’s with a simple instruction of “Remember” attached.

G.B. WALES, Aberfan. Walkers arrive at the Aberfan & Merthyr vale Community Centre, next to the Memorial Garden in the village for all who lost their lives in the mining tragedy that desimated Aberfan in 1966. Finding bags of seeds for participants to spread as they walk, is attached a simple instruction "Remember". (2016).

G.B. WALES, Aberfan. Walkers arrive at the Aberfan & Merthyr vale Community Centre, next to the Memorial Garden in the village for all who lost their lives in the mining tragedy that decimated Aberfan in 1966. Finding bags of seeds for participants to spread as they walk, is attached a simple instruction “Remember”. (2016).

At Pontygwaith, we collectively turned a corner to find artist Karl Price stood imperiously upon the old works bridge, a pure white quartz above his head, reciting prose into the wind; monastic, sombre, retrospective, juxtaposed by modern day cyclists and tourists out on Saturday afternoon, laid to rest as Karl and his rock laid themselves to rest in the gently bubbling waters of the Taff.

G.B. WALES, Pontygwaith. Walkers arrive at the old works bridge to find performance artist and interventionist Karl Price awaiting their arrival. (2016).

G.B. WALES, Pontygwaith. Walkers arrive at the old works bridge to find performance artist and interventionist Karl Price awaiting their arrival. (2016).

At Abercynon, Dai Howell spoke to the group about the importance industry and mining had had upon not only his own family in that village, but as a community and the Welsh nation as a whole. Inviting us to share in this memory, he invited all participants to carry one lump of coal from his sack – carried from Merthyr! – to the rest of the way into Cardiff, recreating the journey resources, wealth and people have made along the Taff Valley for centuries.

G.B. WALES, Abercynon. Walkers listen to Dai Howell as he relates the importance that mining and industry have had, not simply to his own family, but to every community that lines the River Taff. Recreating the journey that such materials as coal made from these communities to Wales' capital Cardiff, Dai carries a sack of coal in his rucksack towards our final destination in Roath. (2016).

G.B. WALES, Abercynon. Walkers listen to Dai Howell as he relates the importance that mining and industry have had, not simply to his own family, but to every community that lines the River Taff. Recreating the journey that such materials as coal made from these communities to Wales’ capital Cardiff, Dai carries a sack of coal in his rucksack towards our final destination in Roath. (2016).

And finally, at Pontypridd, we stopped and listened to musician Cara Cullen play in the town’s museum, surrounded by proud Union banners and relics made famous by the community’s proud industrial and cultural history. Playing Bach so beautiful on violin, Cara then went on to play her own banjo accompanied arrangements of Welsh folk songs archived on National Museum Waleswebsite. To fresh and weary souls, her performance renewed our spirits, and set the mood for contemplation as we walked around the Museum’s exhibits.

With the culmination of Day 2 being the last 6 of the 27 mile walk arriving at Made in Roath’s Made in Spring Festival, the culture and artistry of this whole event was incredible – and thoroughly enjoyed by all the walkers with a tummy full of good tea and hot food! – an absolute pleasure to photograph and be a part of. Whilst this post is purely a spectator’s observations, more information and future updates about this event, can be found online at Made in Roath’s website and social media (full details below).

Made in Roath – Website: http://madeinroath.com/

Made in Roath – Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madeinroath

Made in Roath – Twitter: https://twitter.com/madeinroath2016

Made in Roath – Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/madeinroath/

 

G.B. WALES, Cardiff. Having walked 27 miles from Merthyr, walkers of Red Route 2016 arrive at Plasnewydd Road joining all the other participants of Made in Roath's "Made in Spring Festival". (2016).

G.B. WALES, Cardiff. Having walked 27 miles from Merthyr, walkers of Red Route 2016 arrive at Plasnewydd Road joining all the other participants of Made in Roath’s “Made in Spring Festival”. (2016).

All I know is I hope this match continues for many more years to come – not only was it an amazing experience, but the conversations about art, the meeting of new artists and finding out about their work, the knowledge that we all experience the same journeys and the same challenges is really life affirming… Plus the scheduled tea stops, the pub at the end of each day and Becca’s mum’s supply of boiled sweets, painkillers and plasters were a god send. (NB: As is well documented on other Red Route marches, good weather is not guaranteed).

What ever your reason for taking part, I’d invite anyone and everyone to take part 1 year if they can – you can come and go as you please to fit in with your weekend plans and fitness levels, and as the Taff Trail is also a cycle path, there route is largely flat and tarmac the whole way… unless you take a detour and add some extra mileage to your travels… this can happen.

More photos and stories from Red Route 2016 will be published in print and online soon – be sure to keep checking back on the group’s website for the latest news and events. Thank you Made in Roath for inviting me along! See you again next year.

Kate x

 

 

 

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