Rhiwgarn Infants School – The Second Charette

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The Trebanog Project had an exciting development during the summer. After much negotiation we were able to secure tenancy of Rhiwgarn Infants School for a year – meaning we could continue the exciting work begun in April, and continue our conversations with the community of Trebanog.

In August we held our second charette – this time over two weeks! And, because we know that we’ll be using the space over a longer time, we were able to do some really exciting things, like build a bread oven in the playground. Artist Sam Mukumba came and shared his skills, knowledge and stories and together with him

During our time at Trebanog we’ve spent a lot of time together thinking about the things that are important for the community and Project and what the school could become in the future. We realised that time, and especially slowness, are really key to what we’ve been doing. Owen Griffiths, who’s the lead artist on this part of the project invited a number of artists to come along and hold workshops that were deliberately slow and engaging and involving skill.

We made aprons, one for each of us, sewn from scratch – for a lot of us it was the first time that we’d used a sewing machine! We were also joined by Mel Bastier from Out to Learn Willow, who taught us how to make the beautiful willow baskets. With artist Cath Lewis we also learnt about foraging in the natural world for plants and fruit that we could use to dye fabric. We created beautiful banners from tie dying indigo and we decorated our aprons with blackberry and even leaf dyes.

Throughout the time working together, we also ate together. Two freshly cooked and nutritious meals a day, soups, salads and curries, cooked for us from in the old school kitchen.

As well as the workshop activities we did throughout the week, we spent a lot of time talking, drawing, singing, gardening and playing games. We also did a lot of thinking about what sort of place the school could become for Trebanog, listening to each other and making sense of what the community wants.

A lot of what we made and did during the 2nd charette was working towards a final event – and on the last Friday the team from Artes Mundi and Valleys Kids arrived at the school at 6am to do something really special with some Trebanog residents. It was dark when we arrived, and cold and rainy on top of the mountain. A fire had been started in the oven overnight and when we checked, it was still burning well – hot enough to bake bread! We were joined by many friends of The Trebanog Project, who would help us as we all attempted to make, and bake hundreds of loaves of bread in our new oven – one for every household in Trebanog!

It was a long, long day and sometimes we were worried that we wouldn’t be able to do it. But with the help of the Trebanog community, young and old, mixing and kneading for hours – at last, late afternoon we were ready, and the beautiful willow baskets were loaded with loaves, for the children of Trebanog to deliver.

It was a really special day, and the end of another very special time at Trebanog – and we’re excited about what the future holds for this Project, in this very special place.

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