Amgueddfa Blog

Today is National Autusm Day, a chance to spread awareness and increase acceptance of Autism. Here at Amgueddfa Cymru National Museums of Wales, we believe passionately in making our museums and galleries accessible to everyone, and more than that to creating welcoming, comfortable spaces for all. To that end, a couple of years ago, with the support of autistic volunteers and family members, the National Waterfront Museum created a 'chill-out-room', and began offering 'quiet hours' each month. Here, Ian Smith Senior Curator of Modern & Contemporary Industry at the Waterfront Museum explains how this special space came about.

“In October 2016 we had a staff training day in ‘Autism Awareness’. It opened our eyes to how they see the world and how we can support their needs. It showed us how even the simplest of environmental changes can affect a person with autism. Things like light and sound levels, the colour of walls and floors. In fact the general layout of a space which might be deliberately made stimulating and flashy might cause many autistic people to retreat within themselves.

It was around this time that we welcomed a new volunteer at the museum. Rhys, 17, has autism. His mother contacted us and asked if he could volunteer with us to help his confidence when meeting people and in a real work environment. Rhys helps to run an object handling session, usually with another volunteer or a member of staff, and he has taken to it really well. We have all noticed that he’s become more outgoing and will now hold conversations with total strangers.

With the growing awareness of autism the Museum decided to create an Autism Champion. Our staff member Suzanne, who has an autistic son, readily agreed to take up the challenge. She now attends meetings with our sister museums where issues and solutions around autism are discussed.

During our training session we discovered that some organisations have created ‘chill-out’ rooms. These are for anyone who is feeling stressed or disturbed to go to and relax and gather themselves together. These rooms are especially useful for autistic people. We put a small group together to look at creating a safe, quiet space somewhere in the Waterfront Museum. After considering options, we decided that a little used first aid room on the ground floor offered the best place.

Rhys came into his own. He offered us a number of suggestions on how we could change the space to make it autism friendly. These included making the light levels controllable and sound proofing the room so that gentle music or relaxing sounds could be played. Suzanne too came up with a number of ideas from her own experience of looking after her son. Additionally, a local special school, Pen-y-Bryn, with whom we had an established relationship also offered us their valuable expertise.

The room we’ve created is a very soothing space and we find it gets regular use by people with a range of needs, and is clearly much appreciated as shown by the comments in the visitor’s book:

“Fantastic resource! My daughter really needed this today – thank you!”

“Lovely place to get away from the hustle and bustle for a little one.”

“Lovely idea for people on the spectrum to come for quiet.”

“Really helped my son to have some time out.”

This has been a very big learning curve for most of us, but it has been made much easier by talking to people who have direct experience of autism. Their input as part of our team has been invaluable.”

The Museum is of course, closed right now, but for those of you interested, the times for our 'quiet hours' are posted on our events pages each month. We look forward to welcoming you all back in the coming months. 

In June 2019 the opportunity arose to begin a partnership between the Learning Team at St Fagans and the Access Base at Cantonian High School, Cardiff. The Access Base offers a provision for children from the ages of 11 to 19 who have a statement of educational need for Autism. As a Learning Facilitator I have always found working with Autistic Spectrum Disorder groups rewarding, so I was excited to be asked to organise a programme of activities for the group. I was particularly looking forward to getting to know the group as the same learners would return each visit.

During June and July we met with the students and staff for 3 visits. These visits acted as taster sessions where we could all get to know each other a bit, and find out what sort of activities would be enjoyable and beneficial for the group. They included a guided tour of the site, making coil pots with air drying clay, and potting plants with our Gardening team. Following this, it was decided the students would visit fortnightly with activities based around a different project each term.

Our first project was based around the theme of craft, with Christmas in mind. We began by making baubles and woollen 'fairy lights' using the wet felting technique. This hands on, tactile activity proved popular as the students enjoyed coming up with different colour combinations! In the following visits the group made more baubles and designed and created their own sets of Christmas cards using stamps and ink. In our last meeting before Christmas, the students decorated plant pots before planting daffodil and crocus bulbs to take home and grow.

Following the Christmas break, the plan was for the group to help develop a resource for ASD visitors, allowing them to become familiar with the site before their first visit. Developing a resource like this is something I’ve been interested in for a long time. This has involved visiting the galleries and buildings at St Fagans, and taking part in workshops such as the Warrior Grave and Lambing. I have collected feedback to add to the future visitor resource - for example the need to be aware that there's an echo effect while walking through the Atrium, and low level lighting in the buildings.

Unfortunately, our time together working on this project was cut short by the current events. There are still many more buildings for us to visit together, and more workshops to take part in. We look forward to welcoming Cantonian Access Base back to the museum in the future.

Miss Aimee Phillips – Cantonian High School said “Having a partnership with the St Fagans Learning team has given our pupils some amazing opportunities to learn outside of the classroom. Multisensory, hands on learning is vital to our pupils who are on the Autistic Spectrum. When working with the learning team, our pupils have been able to develop and refine their social skills which is a key area of learning. Some of our most memorable moments at St Fagans over the past year include, working in the Italian Garden, learning how to be a miller, the warrior workshop and most recently, watching lambs being born on the farm. As a teacher I would highly recommend the Learning team and their resources to anyone wanting a unique learning experience.”

You can learn more about the St Fagans Learning programme on our website. 

Teclynnau Pren

Mae’n siwr y gallwch restri llawer o’r delweddau sydd o’n cwmpas mewn siopau ac yn y cyfryngau yn ystod adeg y Pasg:  wyau siocled lliwgar, cywion a chwningod bach fflwfflyd, y lili wen a theisennau simnel i enwi rhai ohonynt.

Ond tybed a ydych chi’n gwybod beth yw’r ddau declyn yn y lluniau ar y dde?

 

Arferion y Pasg

Yr wythnos hon bûm yn gwrando ar recordiadau yn yr Archif Sain yn ymwneud ag arferion y Pasg.  Ceir sôn am ystod eang o draddodiadau:  eisteddfota; “creu gwely Crist”; canu carol Basg; torri gwallt a thacluso’r barf ar ddydd Iau Cablyd er mwyn edrych yn daclus dros y Pasg; bwyta pysgod, hongian bwnen a cherdded i’r eglwys yn droednoeth ar ddydd Gwener y Groglith; yfed diod o ddŵr ffynnon a siwgr brown ar y Sadwrn cyn y Pasg; dringo i ben mynydd i weld yr haul yn “dawnsio” gyda’r wawr a gwisgo dillad newydd ar Sul y Pasg; chwarae gêm o gnapan ar Sul y Pasg Bach (sef y dydd Sul wedi’r Pasg).

 

Clapio Wyau

Ond y traddodiad a dynnodd fy sylw fwyaf oedd yr arfer ar Ynys Môn o fynd i glapio wyau.  Byddai mynd i glapio (neu glepio) cyn y Pasg yn arfer poblogaidd gan blant yr ynys flynyddoedd yn ôl, a dyna yw’r ddau declyn y gellir eu gweld ar y dde:  clapwyr pren.

Yn ôl Elen Parry a anwyd yn y Gaerwen yn 1895 ac a recordiwyd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1965:

Fydda ni fel rheol yn câl awr neu ddwy dudwch o’r ysgol, ella rhyw ddwrnod neu ddau cyn cau’r ysgol er mwyn cael mynd i glapio cyn y Pasg.  Fydda chi bron a neud o ar hyd yr wsnos, ond odd na un dwrnod arbennig yn yr ysgol bydda chi’n câl rhyw awr neu ddwy i fynd i glapio.  Bydda bron pawb yn mynd i glapio.  A wedyn bydda’ch tad wedi gwneud beth fydda ni’n galw yn glapar.  A beth odd hwnnw?  Pishyn o bren a rhyw ddau bishyn bach bob ochor o bren wedyn, a hwnnw’n clapio, a dyna beth odd clapar.

Byddai’r plant yn mynd o amgylch y ffermydd lleol (neu unrhyw dyddyn lle cedwid ieir) yn curo ar ddrysau, yn ysgwyd y clapwyr ac yn adrodd rhigwm bach tebyg i hwn:

Clap, clap, os gwelwch chi’n dda ga’i wŷ

Geneth fychan (neu fachgen bychan) ar y plwy’

A dyma fersiwn arall o’r pennill gan Huw D. Jones o’r Gaerwen:

Clep, Clep dau wŷ

Bachgen bach ar y plwy’

Byddai’r drws yn cael ei agor a’r hwn y tu mewn i’r tŷ yn gofyn “A phlant bach pwy ’dach chi?”  Ar ôl cael ateb, byddai perchennog y tŷ yn rhoi wŷ yr un i’r plant.  Yn ôl Elen Parry:

Fe fydda gyda chi innau pisar bach, fel can bach, ne fasgiad a gwellt ne laswellt at waelod y fasgiad.  Ac wedyn dyna wŷ bob un i bawb.  Wel erbyn diwadd yr amsar fydda gyda chi ella fasgedad o wyau.

Fel arfer, byddai trigolion y tŷ yn adnabod y plant ac os byddai chwaer neu frawd ar goll, byddid yn rhoi wŷ i’r rhai absennol yn un o’r basgeidiau.  Dyma ddywedodd Mary Davies, o Fodorgan a anwyd yn 1894 ac a recordiwyd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1974:

A wedyn, os bydda teulu’r tŷ yn gwbod am y plant bach ’ma, faint fydda ’na, a rheini ddim yno i gyd, fydda nhw'n rhoed wyau ar gyfer rheini hefyd iddyn nhw.

 

Wyau ar y Dresel

Ar ôl cyrraedd adref byddai’r plant yn rhoi’r wyau i’w mam a hithau yn eu rhoi ar y dresel gydag wyau’r plentyn hynaf ar y silff uchaf, wyau’r ail blentyn ar yr ail silff ac yn y blaen.

Gellid casglu cryn dipyn o wyau gyda digon o egni ac ymroddiad.  Yn ôl Joseph Hughes a anwyd ym Miwmaris yn 1880 ac a recordiwyd gan yr Amgueddfa yn 1959:

Bydda amball un wedi bod dipyn yn haerllug a wedi bod wrthi’n o galad ar hyd yr wythnos.  Fydda ganddo fo chwech ugian.  Dwi’n cofio gofyn i frawd fy ngwraig, “Fuost ti’n clapio Wil?”, “Wel do”, medda fo.  “Faint o hwyl ges ti?”, “O ches i mond cant a hannar”.

 

Math o Gardota?

Er bod pawb fel arfer yn rhoi wyau i’r plant, mae’n debyg y byddai rhai yn gwrthod ac yn ateb y drws gan ddweud “Mae’r ieir yn gori” neu “Dydy’r gath ddim wedi dodwy eto”.  Byddai rhai rhieni hefyd yn gyndyn i’w plant fynd i glapio gan eu bod yn gweld yr arfer fel math o gardota.  Dyma ddywedodd un siaradwr:

Fydda nhad fyth yn fodlon i ni fynd achos oedd pawb yn gwybod pwy oedd nhad.  Wel fydda nhad byth yn licio y byddan ni wedi bod yn y drws yn begio, ond mynd fydda ni.

 

Adfywiad

Mae’n fendigedig gweld fod yr arfer o glapio wedi ei adfywio bellach ar Ynys Môn ac felly, mae’n debyg am un wythnos o'r flwyddyn, unwaith eto yng Nghymru, mae’n ddiogel ac yn dderbyniol i roi eich holl wyau yn yr un fasged!

I took this picture in June 2011, underground at Aberpergwm Mine near Resolven. In the picture are three mineworkers who were showing me around the workings. The lady in the middle, Katherine Voyle, was the mine geologist. It was her job to study the coal seam and decide which direction to take the head of the mine to maximise the coal output.

I went to the mine to record a video interview with Katherine about her life and how she ended up in this job. Part of my work is to collect ‘real’ people’s history so that future generations can get the true picture of life now. I asked her if it was strange being the only female amongst 300 men. She told me that it was at first but she soon got used to it. The men also accepted her as ‘one of the boys’ now, especially when she was wearing overalls, but they had a real shock if they went into her office after she had changed back into ‘office wear’!

Aberpergwm is a drift mine, in other words it cuts into the side of a valley rather than a deep shaft. The mine actually dipped steeply as we walked over a mile to the face. There, a huge cutting machine was busy and the noise was deafening. After my tour and conducting an interview we walked back up to the daylight. Even though I hadn’t done any physical work my legs were aching just walking in and out!

Katherine, originally from Swansea, told me that before coming to Aberpergwm she had worked on oil rigs in the North Sea and also in Holland. Her real love was the environment and nature and she was busy setting up a nature trail on the land above the mine.

2020 marks the National Waterfront Museum’s 10 year anniversary of working with the pupils and staff at Ysgol Pen Y Bryn

 

 

The National Waterfront Museum prides itself on the work that it does with the local community and schools within Swansea. These collaborations come in many different forms, from our GRAFT community garden to our innovative ‘my primary school is at the Museum’ programme. Our collaboration with Ysgol Pen Y Bryn is our longest running and a source of continual pride for the Museum.

 

The Museum and the school first came together in 2010 for a project named ‘Behind the Grey Doors’ which aimed to give a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the work that goes on at the Museum. The project gave an insight into everything from how our exhibitions are created to the operation of our Museum shop. Pupils from Pen Y Bryn interviewed staff at the Museum to find out what exactly it takes to run a Museum. The project was hugely enjoyable and beneficial for both the school and the Museum not only for its end product, a wonderful exhibition, but the journey towards it. Teachers and staff both noted the effect that the project had on pupils. Those who may have been tentative in the Museum at first were transformed by the end to feel more comfortable at home amongst the public and the exhibitions. This sense of ownership is something the Museum strives for in all of our community programmes.

 

The pupils and staff at Pen Y Bryn are a continual source of inspiration for all of us at the Museum. ‘Behind the Grey door’ gave us an insight into their amazing creativity and passion. Everyone at the Museum was keen to continue the work and Ysgol Pen Y Bryn have continued  to amaze us with their creativity. Each project has been more inspiring that the last. Projects have included the creation of books on subjects ranging from Swansea Football club to superheroes. The collaboration with huge organisations such as comic book studios and football’s club illustrates how the enthusiasm of the staff and pupils is infectious. They have also created films that have been voiced by everybody from Joanna Lumley to Michael Sheen. The galas that launch these films hosted at the Odeon in Swansea are a true celebration of all the hard work that goes into these projects, and the big screen occasion a reflection of the amazing talents of all those at Pen Y Bryn. All of the proceeds gained from the sales of books and dvds relating to the projects have benefitted local charities such as Ty Hafan.

 

Working with the school has helped the Museum to improve the support it provides to individuals with special educational needs. A ‘chill out room’ was created in the  Museum, with staff at Pen-Y-Bryn advising on the project. The room, similar to facilities they have at the school, offers a safe space for anybody who needs to take a moment.

 

 

To celebrate staff at the Museum have created an exhibition that celebrates all of the projects of the past ten years and the amazing objects that have created as part of them. Dethlu Deg marks ten years of working with Ysgol Pen Y Bryn and everybody here looks forward to ten more!