Following my involvement in the activities for last year’s River of Lights parade in Haverfordwest, I was excited to hear that the Cheerful Project was developing a similar community arts project, inspired by stories of the Mabinogion in Narberth.
Last October, The Lab and the Cheerful Project collaborated to teach the art of lantern making to the Pembrokeshire community. I signed up as a volunteer so I could be directly connected with inspiring those involved. The open workshops were a fantastic success, integrating literally hundreds of people of varying ages and abilities into the creative celebrations.
The pinnacle of the project was the River of Lights Festival a dusk-lit lantern parade on Halloween, along the Cleddau River in Haverfordwest. The evening clearly rekindled community spirit (something sadly missing in Pembrokeshire’s more isolated villages) and it was evident from the smiling faces and magical atmosphere, that the project left a warm and fuzzy glow in the hearts of the community.
[credit: Jenny Blackmore/Amanda Absalom-Lowe]
This year, the Cheerful Project aims to inject the same spirit into Narberth Civic Week, with a Beastly Procession during Narberth Carnival on 30th July. Based on the story of story of Pwll and Rhiannon, from the ancient celtic tales of the Mabinogion, the community are invited to create fantastical willow puppet-style birds and fish that will follow in the footsteps of this year’s carnival Queen, Rhiannon.
After my experience last year, I didn’t hesitate about getting involved. I jumped at the chance to offer support in any area I could, this time under the banner of Life Seeker, which mimics the underlying mission of the Cheerful Project.
Creative activities went underway in June, including a grand Mabinogion Picnic supported by Narberth Museum and the Coleridge in Wales Project. We were blessed with a warm and stunning evening at Narberth Castle, where visitors feasted on picnic blankets, whilst watching and contributing to an array of Mabinogion related performances.
A hilarious evening of entertainment followed at The Trials of Rhiannon, in which Rhiannon wannabees competed to display their strength, creativity, passion and determination. After which, the most deserving entrant was selected to perform as carnival queen.
Recruiting Film Crew
In preparation for the Beastly Procession, the Cheerful Project hosted a film making workshop with Eleanor Flaherty to recruit and train event crew. The brief to these guys (including me), is to capture footage of the workshops and carnival with the aim of producing a short film. This will encompass how the Mabinogion project has engaged with and supported the development of the community as a whole.
Join us to make a Mabinogion creature
If you missed the activities mentioned so far, there is plenty left for you to enjoy. Join the Cheerful Project and a team of volunteers to make a giant flock of birds and shoal of fish to follow Rhiannon on the Beastly Procession. These are FREE drop-in workshops happening on:
- 17th July in Maenclochog Village Hall
- 25th July in Clarbeston Road Memorial Hall and
- 26th July in Narberth’s Queens Hall
- from 10am – 4pm.
Designed by local artist Toby Downing from Small World Theatre, the creatures will be erected onto sticks and are suitable for adults and children (with parents help) to make in around 1-2 hours.
To find out more about the Mabinogion workshops and the Beastly Procession, contact Rowan from the Cheerful Project on 01834 869323 or drop me a line at Life Seeker.
Life Seeker is proud to be supporting the Mabinogion activities and will be around in various guises to help promote and record the event.
Ever considered volunteering?
If you’ve ever considered contributing to a project like this, I highly recommend getting involved. Adding ‘good work’ into your work-life balance is extremely important. First and foremost for those you are helping to engage and secondly, for your own self-worth in terms of giving something back to the community.
We all have skills that are immensely helpful to others and that thing we treat like gold dust…time. Try offering your time and skills to someone, I guarantee it will make you smile :D
NOTE: This article first appeared on Span Arts