Amgueddfa Blog

Each Thursday evening in May, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales are hosting Lates: PITCH BLACK, an online festival of art, film, and music that aims to celebrate Blackness.

In this blog, Gabin Kongolo tells us more about what to expect from her commissioned performance piece, titled 'NDAKO' that will be featured in the second evening of Lates: PITCH BLACK on 13 May 2021.

For more information on Lates: PITCH BLACK and to purchase a ticket from just £6 per event, click here.

The two playlists below are just a small insight into the NDAKO experience and I’m excited to share this cine poem with the world on Thursday.

These playlists, which have been curated by my Mum and Dad, were fundamental in the process of creating NDAKO (Home). These songs reminded me of my childhood and also what we have now as a family in the current moment. It was also beautiful for me to hear songs that I haven’t heard before that my parents love during this process as it allowed me to further our relationship through the medium of music. Essentially, having my Mum and Dad as my muses for this project, has given me new life and a new relationship. I hope they enjoy NDAKO when they see it as I’ve said they can’t see it until the 13th!

 

Dad’s playlist

The music in this playlist reminds me of my journey from Congo all the way to Wales. From Koffi Olomide to Ya Levis, this music speaks to me like no other music can. Listening to these songs, remind me of what I had and now what I have. 

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0GwvTtxOxfAWEKkd0Ah0ac?si=aaa712acc4f64f9e

 

Mum’s playlist

My playlist for NDAKO contains music that I enjoyed whilst my kids were babies. This period of time is when I felt most at home and complete zen. There’s also music in this playlist that I enjoy now with my sons when we sing and dance in the kitchen! These songs bring me joy and remind me of the gift of life that I have.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4uMr2zIsuFCQ2YvkYIjzmJ?si=cb917a0887a14ba0

 

Timetable for Lates: PITCH BLACK on 13 May 2021

Timetable for Lates: PITCH BLACK on 13 May 2021

The National Museum Cardiff presents a new and exciting event this May. Their Lates event series returns on 6th May with Lates: PITCH BLACK.

Every Thursday in May, explore Black identity through the lenses of four unique voices. With interactive workshops, Q&As, DJ sets and so much more, this festival will open up the conversation around what it means to be Black.

Kate Bryony sat down with the curator, Umulkhayr Mohamed, to discuss the festival and why it’s important for white people to engage and learn from the events.

 

My name is Kate Bryony. I’m a student journalist based in South Wales. I love sharing my passion for culture, art, and entertainment, as well as travel.  

Find me on Instagram @katebryony or Twitter @bryonykate. 

 

Can you tell us a little bit about the event?

 

Lates: PITCH BLACK is an online festival of events that will celebrate Blackness as boundless and infinite. The series includes multi-artform commissions that will interrogate the impact of the British Empire and its culture on Black people and their history, whilst exploring new ways to dream collectively.
 

Lates: PITCH BLACK presents events that will be running every Thursday evening throughout May 2021. It will include bold new work created by our PITCH BLACK artists; Gabin Kongolo, June Campbell-Davies, Omikemi and Yvonne Connikie. Commissioned by National Museum Cardiff and Artes Mundi.

Alongside that, it’ll present artist Q&As, interactive workshop sessions, film screenings, DJ sets and exclusive Black History tours of the National Museum of Wales Collections, as well as extras from the Artes Mundi 9 exhibition.

The artists

June Campbell Davies artwork is titled 'Sometimes we’re invisible' and is a performance-based inquiry into the presence of Black people in Art from National Museum Cardiff’s historic art collection. Explored using languages of Dance, Symbolism and Imagery & references to Colonialism, the work will be accompanied by with a soundscape produced by Ffion Campbell-Davies. Set in a transformed National Museum Cardiff’s historic art gallery, that has been dressed in the remnants of otherwise hidden pasts. The scene is set for Campbell Davis to begin revealing through movement the weight of ancestral connections.

Gabin Kongolo's cine poem is titled 'NDAKO (Home)' and reveals the poetic nature and experience of coming to Wales from Congo as refugees. The work explores the refugee experience in relation to dreams, struggles and an evolving sense of identity from multiple people who are from and have now left the Democratic Republic of Congo. NDAKO (Home) is based on testimonies given by Kongolo’s Mum, Dad, Uncle and Auntie as well as fellow filmmaker Horeb Mubambo. The visuals reflect the sentiments that have been shared through candid conversations between these individuals and Kongolo, as well as places that will be familiar to Cardiff’s Congolese community. The words become a lyrical distillation of the intimate details of what it means to move through the world as a displaced person.

Omikemi audio-visual artwork is titled 'Dreaming Bodies' and has been developed out of an a Black-centred somatic inquiry for LGBTQIA+ disabled folx. The inquiry participants, those who contributed to the inquiry, explored embodied activities such as life drawing, body poem and elements of Qi Gong and Capoeira Angola. The Dreaming Bodies workshop poses many questions including ‘what do we need and desire individually and collectively, at this time and what kinds of practices, communities, places and things would make our lives more sustainable and joyful?’ In the pursuit of increased agency and possibility, a sense of community and care resulting in an artwork that engages with the idea and implications of body supremacy.

Yvonne Connike's film is titled 'A time for New Dreams' and takes its name from a book by Ben Okri, a collection of essays on how the world is and how it could be. The work is an experimental and intergenerational manifestation of the dreams of the Windrush generation in Wales. Filmed in Newport and based on archival material and new testimonials. The work ‘A time for New Dreams’ reflects on and the ambitions the Windrush generation held by as Invited Citizens, as well as the racism they endured upon arrival. Moving through time, the film demonstrates how the recent Windrush Scandal has resulted in these dreams being turned into waking nightmares. So, right now, this is a time for new dreams.

What makes this particular event series so special?

We are collaborating with Artes Mundi to bring about this festival, which has been a really exciting collaboration. It’s meant that the artists we commissioned from Lates had the opportunity to draw from engaging with another National Arts Organisation in addition to exploring the National Collections of Wales during their research and development phase. This lasted for a couple of months and it really helped inform the commissions that the Lates artists ended up producing. This was really important; we wanted the artist commissions to really nurture the artists we worked with so that they could go forward and produce more great art as the potential for this is there for each of them to do this.

Also, this is also the first time that Lates is going online, meaning that people who live too far from National Museum Cardiff to come down for an evening event no longer have to miss out. Despite us having to move online this has turned into a real opportunity. We decided to shift the regular one-night event to four events happening each Thursday night throughout May so as to give our audiences even more amazing content ranging from artist Q&As, interactive workshop sessions, film screenings, and DJ sets!

Why is this festival so important?  

One of the ways that white privilege reveals itself, culturally, is the discomfort that some white people have in engaging with art and culture that doesn't centre around their lived experience. Mainstream culture is organised in a way that actively marginalises non-white people and their experiences. It’s for this reason that I feel that it is important for white people, in particular, to attend this festival as it won't only be an engaging experience but an educational one for them.

Even more specifically I think white Welsh people would really benefit from attending this festival as there is parts of the programme that show very specifically how Wales has benefited from Black people and their contributions to Welsh and British society. It’s something that sadly is too often overlooked. 

What type of people will enjoy this festival?

These events are for anyone who understands the importance of engaging with Black art and Black history, beyond just Black History Month. It’s also for people who want to see national institutions show up and showcase the experiences of marginalised communities. It’s about understanding that this is what these institutions should not only be doing, but also that they are uniquely positioned to do so with the wealth of knowledge and resources that they have. They can and should share with these communities.

I dreamt up this festival back in 2019, long before the latest resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Since that happened last summer, we have been shown and witnessed so much Black trauma and we paid attention, as we should. That being said, I truly believe that we should also invest in celebrating the beauty that is Blackness. Black lives don't only matter they are also worth celebrating, commemorating, and exalting, like all other life, and this event is for anyone that agrees.

 

What inspired the idea behind this event series? 

Well, Amgueddfa Cymru- National Museum Cardiff launched the Lates events a couple of years ago now as a part of their public programme. Each version of Lates having a different theme. Space and Dino being two of the previous themes but following the same general offering as an 'after hours events' that gave people a chance to experience the museum and its collections in a new way and artists a chance to work with the museum in creating artistic responses to these parts of our collections and the event's theme. 

And with that in mind, I approached my colleagues with the idea of doing a Lates events that really highlighted, in a celebratory light, Black History as it connects to Wales's Black communities, back in 2019! So as the lead curator of this festival I've been dreaming up this festival for a long time, and really looking forward for it to be starting next week.

 

How is the idea of ‘Blackness’ celebrated across the festival?

Well, first and foremost, it centres on the perspectives of Black people throughout the programme. From myself as a Black curator, leading the curation of the programme, to the Lates artists, workshop leaders, the films we are screening and even the DJs and their DJ sets. This is really important for a number of reasons, but perhaps the central reason being that we need to carve out space to showcase as many individual experiences of Blackness as possible. This allows us to show, rather than just tell, how vast and varied the so-called 'Black experience' is. We aren't a monolith, despite having some shared experiences. We can't celebrate Blackness while simultaneously only provided limited view of it. 

 

What makes this festival for everyone? 

I should say, I've spoken a lot about the art that this festival is showcasing. I appreciate that art can often be elitist and exclusionary but with the way that we have presented these commissions, we have thought of what we can do to make sure the art can be engaged with by any and everyone.

 As following the presentation of each artwork there will be a Q&A with the artists themselves. This means anyone attending will have the opportunity to engage in a conversation around what they just experienced and have the artist share what went into the making of their work and elaborating on the themes they explored through their art. 

 

What about the event are you most excited about?

There is so much to be excited for! We have a really packed programme for each of the four evenings. Naturally, the four artist commissions are the main focus of the events, as each event will start with us premiering them.

The quality of the work that these amazing four artists have produced is such a gift, really. The nuance and perspective that they have poured into the subject matters that each of their art works explore really exemplifies what we set out to achieve when we were dreaming up Lates: PITCH BLACK.

 

LATES: PITCH BLACK begins on May 6th with June Campbell-Davies.

More info/Tickets can be found here

 

 

 

 

Mae projectau dan arweiniad pobl ifanc ar draws yr amgueddfa yn rhan o gynllun Dwylo ar Dreftadaeth, sy'n bosibl diolch i Grant Tynnu'r Llwch, Cronfa Dreftadaeth y Loteri. Diolch i'r Gronfa ac i bob un o chwaraewyr y Loteri Genedlaethol. 

Youthled projects across the museum are part of the Hands on Heritage initiative, made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund's Kick the Dust Grant. Thanks to The Fund and all our National Lottery Players - keeping our fingers crossed for you! 

Each Thursday evening in May, Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales are hosting Lates: PITCH BLACK, an online festival of art, film, and music that aims to celebrate Blackness.

In this blog, June Campbell-Davies tells us more about what to expect from her commissioned performance piece, titled 'Sometimes We're Invisible' that will be featured in the first evening of Lates: PITCH BLACK on 6 May 2021.

For more information on Lates: PITCH BLACK and to purchase a ticket from just £6 per event, click here.

 

The source of my piece came from an experimental work I created a few years ago around exploring the presence of black Victorians, its was a solo I performed using the Movement style that lends itself to Japanese Butoh, where the movements are extremely controlled [slow motion] or intensified [changes in dynamics], allowing the performer to internalize, transform momentarily through this luminal process. And so from the start, I decided that whatever movement material I created, I would use this form of movement Style throughout the piece. Which is a challenge for dancer and audiences alike to stay connected and absorbed.

The Space in Gallery 4 is an open area giving space & light I envisaged my work centered between the organ and the large oil painting.  So when in March 2021 I was able to begin rehearsals in the Museum, I wasn’t sure how I was going to present my solo-My movements alone couldn’t sum up what I had unearthed, I turned my focus to selecting photos for the projector in the hope that what I couldn’t convey in movement the images would help to cement the subject matter.

I knew then that I didn’t want to appear already dressed in Victorian dress, but was drawn to the African print fabric I wanted to start there and explore that journey, entering and exiting the space. Connecting to the rope on the floor spread out into 5 or 6 branches signifying family lineage or tribe. Once that was established I felt something was need even before that, maybe representing a kind of sculptural, spiritual mythical

Entity, Which came out of the silver representing crossing water, refined metals.  The West African deity Yemoja in Yoruba culture, originates from Nigerian folkloric religion and is associated with water, purity, fertility the giver of life and death, which has traveled with those from captivity to the Caribbean, Brazil, Cuba & Southern states of American. Their belief system clashing & mixing with Christianity. Silver being a kind of refining metal symbolically connects with me in terms of what Africans & my Ancestors had to go through over 400 years of Slavery.

But it's never clear cut the stain runs deep for those of us who are of mixed heritage, my father's family tree reveals that his grandparents and great grandparents on his father's side were Scottish and French plantation owners of Grenada. Those that remained in Grenada after the abolition of slavery were disinherited if they married outside their race, and so Religion played an important part in trying to convert enslaved people to Christianity and trying to keep the races apart. The wealth generated, helped to build  Churches and Cathedrals, the Stately homes and mansions in Britain all through cultivating & processing Sugar Cane.

So later in the choreography the book I hold up is woven in red and reads ‘ Objects of Desire’ and symbolically serves as a bible, pushing down and suffocating all involved in this form of human trafficking, chained and packed close like sardines. Branded separated given new names. forced to give up their religious practices and take up Christianity. 

So the piece begins by shedding off one layer revealing another and putting on garments in a kind of ritualistic journey. So as the rehearsal process developed I began to collect items that may be useful to experiment with.  At first, I only had a notebook, music system, a blanket to sit on the floor to warm up, improvising with short movement sequences.  

In the next sessions I brought in more props like rope and used it to outline the space, to create a right angle. Another piece of rope was placed on the floor to use as an umbilical cord. And decided that this rope was where I would explore ‘the Struggle’ giving birth, the enslavement, the suffering, the torture. All in the name of sugar

The following session, I needed to find another stimulus to help generate more material,  there were a few chairs in the space and so I used these just to play with improvisation, it was not my plan to have the chairs in the piece but eventually they became symbolic elements and helped to define the space, and restrict the performance area, helping me to drive the narrative forward. The chairs became landmarks, continents, and seats of power as I moved around them. I explored my solo dance within the triangle [Trans- Atlantic] sometimes with the dress and other times without, I couldn’t decide yet until near the filming date. By then sections seemed to organically drop into place. The dressing and undressing became part of the ritual and transformation.

During the early periods of rehearsals, I used pre-recorded music to help create atmosphere & develop short choreographic moments. I knew for the actual performance I wanted a soundscape that had voice, text & natural elements. So I contacted my daughter.

The Soundscape was created by  Ffion Campbell-Davies, a Welsh multidisciplinary artist based in London.  Our conversations were through email for this project, both of us busy with other jobs we didn’t really need to communicate at long lengths because we share similar interests and we have worked together on several projects so there is an understanding and respect for each other's practice. Ffion also gave me choreographic notes and directions which was crucial at this stage. The Soundscape really helped to bring the entire piece to life adding another layer and giving the body of work context, alongside projected images. Text punctuated like bullet points from Professor Sir Hilary Beckles's speech on Reparations stung the air like deadly darts.

Now in Victorian dress, I leave the Space, An imprint from the past. The wheels of fate keep turning & turning. I exit.

Lates: PITCH BLACK is presented in partnership with Artes Mundi.

The Spring Bulbs for Schools investigation started in 2005 and has been engaging KS2 pupils with science, climate change and the natural environment for sixteen years. The 2020-21 project met with many challenges that inspired us all to work in new and inventive ways.

Schools across the UK have shown determination and versatility in meeting challenges caused by the pandemic and resulting restrictions. We are grateful to all schools who continued to collect and share weather data. In many cases this was achieved by asking pupils who lived near the school to take the weather equipment home. These pupils were responsible for recording and uploading the data on behalf of their school during lockdown.

We will be meeting a few of these Spring Bulbs for Schools Champions through Blog posts. Our first Champion is Riley, who has been taking weather readings for Stanford in the Vale Primary School.

Q. What sort of year have you had with lockdown?
A. I’ve had a mixed year, I have been glad to go back to school as I didn’t really like homeschooling. I was glad to see all my friends!!

Q. Why do you think the project is important?
A. I think that the project is very important. As well as helping with your maths skills, it also makes you get out into the garden and have fun.

Q. How did you help to continue the project?
A. This year I have been helping with the project by doing the weather measurements from home. I think that it is important to keep the project going even during lockdown!

Q. What do you enjoy about taking the measurements?
A. I enjoy seeing the differences in the weather each day, I like it how you can get really varied days in the temperature and rainfall. No day is the same!

Q. What have you noticed about your weather and flower measurements this year?
A. I have noticed this year that we have had some very hot days this year with some temperatures reaching up to 25 degrees in March!!

Q. What are you most looking forward to doing after lockdown?
A. The thing I am most looking forward to is seeing all my family and friends again!! It seems like so long since I last saw them!!

Thank you Riley.

Thank you for all of your hard work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant

 

Hello again Bulb Buddies!

Lots of you have been in touch recently to let me know your Baby Bulbs have flowered which is wonderful news!  There’s not long left to enter your flower data into the Spring Bulbs website if you haven’t already – the deadline is Friday April 2nd, which also happens to be Good Friday so you can enjoy a well-earned hot cross bun after entering your data!  Please make sure your flower data is uploaded by this date for Bulb Buddies to receive their Super Scientist certificate!

Did you know you can leave me a comment when entering your flower and weather data into the website?  I really enjoy hearing about your experiences caring for your Baby Bulbs so do keep them coming in via the comments section of the Spring Bulbs website or even on Twitter.  Here are some of your comments over the past few weeks:

  • “ When we have a sunny day the crocus flowers are open like stars” – Class 2, Coastlands Primary.
  • It’s been lovely to witness during our observations how the flower closes when it has been cold and then see the flower open when the sun has been out!” – Amy, Stanford in the Vale Primary.

Well spotted Bulb Buddies!  Some flowers are quite delicate and will curl up to protect themselves from cold weather which could damage them. When temperatures rise they feel safe to “open like stars”!

Henllys CIW Primary have certainly had a mixed bag of daffodil results:

  • “Mine was really tall” – Aneurin
  • “Mine was really thin” – Emily
  • “Mine was really good until the wind broke it” - Oliver

Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear that Oliver! We certainly had some strong winds earlier this month which can be dangerous for tall daffodils.  It’s not your fault and you all did very well.

  • “My bulb opened today, but something has been eating the petals. Quite a few of our bulbs were taken by squirrels in the autumn because we captured some of them doing it on our night vision camera!” – Alexandra, Livingston Village Primary School.

Sadly this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of bushy tailed bandits stealing bulbs and there are more comment from LVPS about animals stealing bulbs for a free meal.  It’s easy to forget that plants are food for lots of creepy crawlies and other animals and at least you were able to provide a hungry animal with a meal.  I can’t believe you caught them red handed!  Do you have a photo you could share?

  • “It appears our bulbs in the ground opened first during February and are a much bigger plants than those in the pots. We have thoroughly enjoyed this project and a special mention must go to Riley (an ex-student of the school) for helping Mrs Finney with the weather and rainfall observations during lockdown.” – Mrs. Finney, Stanford in the Vale Primary School.

How interesting - bulbs in the ground have more nutrients and space to grow than potted bulbs so they often flower sooner and can grow taller if sheltered from the wind.  I’m thrilled to hear you’ve all enjoyed working on the project and what a fantastic effort from Riley!  I read all your wonderful comments about the weather and gardening and thank you so much for helping Mrs. Finney with the project over lockdown, what an amazing Bulb Buddy you are!

This year has been tough for everyone but you’ve all done fantastically well and seeing so many beautiful blossoms is a testament to your hard work and dedication.  Thank you so much again Bulb Buddies, teachers and parents!  We’re hoping to open applications for the 2021 – 22 academic year soon after the Easter holidays so if you’ve enjoyed being Bulb Buddies this year you can have the chance to look after some new Baby Bulbs next year!

Happy Gardening!

Professor Plant.