A Oes Heddwch? Creative project to commemorate the First World War

Date 07/08/2017
Gweithdai Hedd Wyn

An idea by Gwawr Wyn Roberts from the Gwynedd Council’s Community Arts Unit to mark the centenary of the Eisteddfod Black Chair was the original catalyst for the opening ceremony for the 2017 National Eisteddfod held last Friday.

The performance of ‘A Oes Heddwch?’ in the Eisteddfod’s main pavilion was the culmination of a special partnership of various organisations, schools and performers from the local area and beyond. The original idea led to creating the partnership and obtaining funds from the Arts Council of Wales, Gwynedd Council, the Isle of Anglesey County Council and the National Eisteddfod.

Gwawr Wyn Roberts from Gwynedd Council’s Community Arts Unit said: “I thought that this year’s Eisteddfod should be a way to mark a century since the death of the poet Hedd Wyn, and the Eisteddfod of the Black Chair at Birkenhead in 1917.

“As everyone knows, Hedd Wyn as he was known was killed in the summer of 1917 during the First World War before finding out that he had won the Chair at the National Eisteddfod. This story of the Bardic Chair shrouded in black cloth has become an integral part of our history, and the young poet from Trawsfynydd came to represent the generation lost during the Great War.

“As a Council, we are very pleased  that the initial idea has led to such a special opportunity to mark the centenary in such a creative way. It is also pleasing that the project has secured input from members of our communities and the county’s pupils, as well as the fact that so many performers from Gwynedd have been able to be part of telling what is such an important story for us in Gwynedd an beyond.”

The aim of the project was to raise awareness of this important centenary, organising workshops which would not only tell the tale but could also stimulate ideas to inspire the creative team. A series of community workshops were held over recent years which included workshops at Yr Ysgwrn, Hedd Wyn’s home, ‘A Oes Heddwch?’ workshops with Cwmni’r Frân Wen, Hedd Wyn Talwrn and a Hedd Wyn History Hunt.

Friday night’s concert took the Chair-winning poet as inspiration, the story of the boys who went to war a century ago and the communities left behind in Wales. It was a new work by Aled and Dafydd Hughes, members of the popular band Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, Eisteddfod Bard Guto Dafydd, Paul Mealor and Grahame Davies, with performances by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Eisteddfod Choir and soloists Osian Huw Williams, Casi Wyn, Emyr Gibson, Lleuwen Steffan and Gwen Elin.

For more information about the Gwynedd Council Community Arts Unit, visit www.gwyneddgreadigol.com