St Fagans play area

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An inspiring and unique new play area at St Fagans National Museum of History is currently being designed and developed to replace the previous play area at the open air museum.

Artist Nils Norman, has been given the task of designing the new playground as part of the artist in residency programme at St Fagans which is funded by Arts Council of Wales and the Heritage Lottery Fund with the aim of providing opportunities for artists to respond creatively to the St Fagans redevelopment project during 2015-18.

Norman is part of the second artist residency at St Fagans, following the first residency which was launched in 2015 with four artists. Each residency focuses on different aspects of the redevelopment.

He has the task of creating a bespoke play area which is unique to St Fagans, creating links with the collections, fostering creative and sensory play, making use of natural elements, and that is sustainable and as environmentally friendly as possible and be suitable for children of all ages and abilities.

Based in London, Nils’ work crosses the disciplines of public art, architecture and urban planning and he has completed major public art projects and playgrounds worldwide, including those in New York, Geneva, Denmark and London.

Alongside Nils Norman as lead artist, two other Wales-based artists, Fern Thomas and Imogen Higgins, have been working with Nils on the project, assisting with research, preparing and delivering workshops with young people to feed into the play area design as well as working on their own practice.

Land artist Imogen – who recently graduated from the BA in ceramics at Cardiff Metropolitan university - works as a participatory arts practitioner in the communities around Cardiff and the central and Gwent Valleys and uses natural materials and sustainable methods of construction.

Fern Thomas graduated from the MA in Social Sculpture at Oxford Brookes University in 2012 and has exhibited in Mexico, New Zealand, Germany, USA and in venues across the UK. Her first solo show When the Moon Fell out of Orbit was held at Mission Gallery in 2012.

The artist have also been consulting with staff, families, young people and children about ideas and researching and investigating the history and archaeology collections, the paper, sound and film archives at St Fagans to consider various themes.

Siân Lile-Pastore, Senior Learning, Participation and Interpretation Officer, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said,

“Setting up a play area at the museum is an integral part of the new interpretation offer at St Fagans.

“We’re delighted to have an artist of Nils talent here as part of the residency programme and we look forward to seeing his ideas for an exciting new play area that creates links with the museum’s collections, encourages creative and challenging play, and is, most importantly, fun!”

Building work continues at St Fagans National Museum of History as the site undergoes the biggest redevelopment project in the history of the Museum. This has been made possible by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Welsh Government and other supporters. St Fagans was awarded the largest grant ever given by the HLF in Wales in 2012 to help tell the stories of life in Wales over 200,000 years and more.