Discovering dreams and demons in Swansea
By Dr Elaine Canning, Research Institute for Arts and Humanities, Swansea University
We hear about some of the inspirational festival activities led by Swansea University, one of this year’s seven hubs. The events cover a wide range of subjects, from Egyptian demons to the beautiful Swansea coastline. The Swansea programme continues throughout the festival, intriguingly titled Dreams, demons and discovery.
What inspired you to act as a ‘hub’ for Being Human 2016?
In 2015, the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities at Swansea University was thrilled to host the hub ‘Heritage, health and wellbeing’. We ran a number of events across the city of Swansea, from open mic poetry sessions to puppetry and music, a young heritage apprentice programme and a touching and engaging live art session at the Hafod Morfa Copperworks in the Lower Swansea Valley. The wonderful experience of running a hub as part of Being Human 2015, of engaging, enthusing and exchanging with the public was the reason why we wanted to do it all over again! And our local community were very much ready for more Being Human fun and frolics!
How did you come up with your theme for this year?
The overarching theme of ‘hope and fear’ for this year’s festival inspired us to think about the aspirations and anxieties which we all face and which are at the heart of several of our research projects and themes. It was clear to us that Egyptian demons, our coastline, new Welsh poetry and novels and stories by our creative writing team were ripe for playfulness and exploration. And that is what led us to ‘dreams, demons and discovery’.
Can you tell us about a few highlights from your programme? What can people look forward to?
You’ll be able to get creative through arts and crafts, poetry and photography, as well as have the chance to digitally log your hopes and fears throughout the festival period (and then see the expression of these emotions projected onto the front of the spectacular National Waterfront Museum!). We open with an evening of conversation with the wonderful Michael Morpurgo at our stunning new Great Hall, then go on to dressing up as heroes and villains at our ‘demon stations’! Our exhibition of the public’s photographic responses to the Swansea coastline opens on Tuesday 22 and we move to storytelling with our award winning creative writing team on Wednesday 23. These are just some of the highlights in store!
What will people in Swansea get out of coming to these events?
If you come along to our events, you’ll be inspired by Michael Morpurgo’s storytelling, get ‘arty’ and learn all about Egyptian demons, try your hand at photography and poetry and have some fun along the way!
What do you think the legacy of your hub will be?
Our hub will leave very tangible outputs – for example, a word cloud at the National Waterfront Museum derived from the digital logging of hopes and fears, an online exhibition of children’s favourite Egyptian demons, a physical exhibition of photographs and poems expressing relationships with the Swansea coast, and digital collages on memory by the Longfields project. Most importantly, we would like to be remembered for sparking debate, encouraging creativity and getting people talking about the festival’s key themes.
Finally, there’s been a lot of fearfulness in 2016. Please tell us about one thing that makes you hopeful for the future.
The strength and solidarity of and in communities – speaks for itself, I think!