Ceri Shaw


 

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Frederick C. Robie House


By Ceri Shaw, 2022-01-26

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History



From the Wikipedia :- "The Frederick C. Robie House is a U.S. National Historic Landmark now on the campus of the University of Chicago in the South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park in Chicago, Illinois. Built between 1909 and 1910, the building was designed as a single family home by architect Frank Lloyd Wright and is renowned as the greatest example of Prairie School, the first architectural style considered uniquely American. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 27, 1963, and was on the first National Register of Historic Places list of October 15, 1966. Robie House and a selection of other properties by Wright were inscribed on the World Heritage List under the title "The 20th-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright" in July 2019."

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The Feast by Matthew G. Rees, A Review


By Ceri Shaw, 2022-01-22

Read our interview with Matthew G. Rees here



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Not to be confused with the recent, wildly acclaimed Welsh language horror movie of the same name ( Y Gwledd ), this is Matthew G. Rees' third published anthology of short stories. You will find reviews of his other works here The Keyhole and here Smoke House & Other Stories



We have expressed the opinion that Matthew G. Rees is a major new talent elsewhere and this new collection confirms our estimation. The Feast is a deliciously dark and frequently amusing collection that leaves one in no doubt that Rees is a writer at the top of his game and destined for popularity and acclaim.

In so far as this collection has a theme, the author outlines it in his brief introductory note:-

" This collection of stories created itself over the course of two years in which I found that I seemed to be writing short fiction that possessed a connective tissue ."

The nature of this 'connective tissue' becomes clearer when we consider the accompanying quotation from Shakespeare:-

" Things sweet to taste prove in digestion sour. " William Shakespeare Richard II 

Indeed there is an element of - be careful what you wish for - in most of these tales. In 'The Twilight Maiden' we are introduced to Guiseppe Dellucci, an Italian restaurateur in search of a delicious legendary variety of tomato which only grows in the vicinity of the remote village of Collina Rossa. The atmosphere of suspense and thinly veiled threat are skilfully crafted until Guiseppe is finally inducted into the mystery of the fabled tomato plant.

These stories are set in a variety of locations and in 'Stone Cold' we meet Candice Canyons, an exotic dancer at The Southern Peaches Go-Go Club, somewhere in the American south. She dreams of a better life and opportunity presents itself in the form of Seymour Thrayle, an aged wealthy landowner who frequents the Club. His obsession with, and desire for, peach tarts leads to a  grim and humorous denouement.

In 'Fungal' the protagonist is distracted by a store front sign which reads:-

SELF-SUFFICIENCY

Enquire within

Having nearly exhausted a fortune he had inherited from his family he decided that there would be no harm in inquiring. Needless to say his life is changed forever in the most unexpected of ways.

If you are not acquainted with the work of Matthew G' Rees this collection provides an excellent introduction. His tales have the capacity to simultaneously delight and disturb and always stay in your thoughts for some time after reading. The Feast by Matthew G' Rees is AmeriCymru's selection for Book of the Month January 2022.

 

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‘In It Together Festival,’ the newest and biggest ever addition to Wales’ live music calendar, have announced the full list of 50 Welsh artists who will perform across the festival, with some of the best new talent across the country performing alongside a plethora of international superstars, shining a light on local talent like never before.

The 50 artists cover a huge range of genres spanning the entire musical spectrum, with 25 artists performing across the Paddock Stage, showcasing the very best in indie, rock, grime and hip hop, including Cardiff born singer-songwriter Gwenno and Swansea indie rockers Who’s Molly . The other 25 artists will take over the Escape Records Stage covering all things electronic, from rising Trance star Will Rees , to tech-house maestros This Culture .

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Photo: Gwenno

Both stages have been carefully curated alongside Focus Wales and BBC Horizons, providing an unrivalled platform that will truly establish them as Wales’ next generation of music stars. 

Says Bethan Elfyn, Project Manager for BBC Horizons; “We’re excited at Horizons to see a new festival on the Welsh map – we look forward to supporting the festival, curating some of the Welsh talent and working with the team to make the weekend one to remember. It’s so important after the last couple of years of restrictions on music events to see new events provide new opportunities and experiences for Welsh artists.”

As well as welcoming some of the best talent Wales has to offer, the festival will also host a range of local food vendors providing the very best in local cuisine, as well as working with local suppliers from across the country to create a truly Welsh experience, while the festival’s website will also be available in both English and Welsh. 

Says Escape Records Director Adam Gore; “Our company was born out of the Cardiff nightclub scene, starting out hosting parties in the smallest venues in the city, to filling 3000 capacity venues on Greyfriars Road. We’ve since gone on to launch festivals all over Wales, but this will undoubtedly be our biggest project to date. We are incredibly proud of our Welsh roots and felt it only right that we make our biggest ever festival a true celebration of Wales and Welsh culture.”

With tickets already flying, In It Together is well on track to sell out in its first year. Family, weekend, and day tickets are now available to buy so make sure you are part of history and grab yours here before they go: https://inittogetherfestival. com/

Fe welwn ni chi ar y fferm!



The 50 Welsh artists are as follows (In Alphabetical order)






A-J/72
ADWAITH
AFROCLUSTER ANDREW DAVIES
ARKALA DRE
BANDICOOT
BENJI WILD
BENNIE
BLACKELVIS
CAMPFIRE SOCIAL
CAMRON
CLU
CLWB FUZZ
DOMZ
EADYTH
ELERI ANGHARAD
ELMARSH
EMMA PONESKI
GEORGE ELLIS
GREG COLMAN
GWENNO
HANA LILI
HPD
IEUAN HAILE
JACKSON LUCITT
JASON P
JAY P
JONNY GRIFFITHS
KATY HARRIZ
LEMFRECK
LITCHY & SMILEY
LOCAL
LONG CAI
LOS BLANCOS
MARTIN ROGERS
MONIQUE B
N'FAMADY KOUYATE
RAUDI TT
REAPER
REBECCA HURN
REUEL ELIJAH


ROB DAVIES
ROB E
ROB REES
RYAN REES
SILENT FORUM
T4NK
THE NOW
THIS CULTURE
TWO TILL TWELVE
WHO'S MOLLY
WILL REES
YEAR OF THE DOG




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Wales’ leading talent development project, Forté Project, re-launches in 2022 with a full scale Wales-wide project for the first time, starting with ten new acts.

The newly chosen music acts from across the country, covering multiple musical genres, will gain crucial skills, industry knowledge and perform their music live at a series of unique events across the country.

Forté Project was established in 2015 and throughout its six year tenure it has developed over 70 young music creators aged 16-25 including Owina Felstead, Alex Stacey, Hana Lili, Eädyth, The Honest Poet, Otto, CHROMA and many more

Amongst these are artists, many have since gone on to become internationally acclaimed songwriters signed to national record labels, performed across the world, gained national radio exposure and won multiple awards.

Over the last two years, Forté project has adapted and overcome the challenges it faced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Working online has enabled the project to establish and continue connections with the artists who desperately needed support and encouragement over a difficult period.

Now in 2022, Forté Project is ready to embark work on a brand new scale with artists selected from around Wales. Providing ten chosen new acts with professional mentoring, personal development, mental health support, skills workshops and unique live opportunities which will enable them to take their first steps in developing long-lasting and successful careers. 

The Forté 10 acts in 2022 are:



  • Artshawty - Dreamy bedroom-pop from Cardiff


  • Elin Grace - Classically trained folk-pop from Llandrindod Wells


  • Elis Derby - Jagged Welsh language indie-rock from Y Felinheli, North Wales


  • Fig. - Unique melancholic rap hailing from Caerphilly


  • Kitty - Sugary sweet pop from Cardiff (via Paris!)


  • Mali Hâf - Sultry bi-lingual neo-soul from Cardiff


  • Ogun - Politically charged rap from Newport


  • Only Rainyday Rainbow - Scuzzy art-school psychedelia from Swansea


  • Skylrk - Erratic Welsh language hiphop from Caernarfon


  • Sorry Stacy - Layered electronic-pop from Cardiff (via Estonia!)

Forté Project has been made possible by the support from the PRS Foundation and Arts Council of Wales.

forteproject.co.uk   facebook.com/forteproject10   twitter.com/forteproject10   instagram.com/forteproject10  

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Kjell Olsen, Wright Sketches for Broadacre City,   CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons



The Living City by Frank Lloyd Wright

In 1958 Frank Lloyd Wright published The Living City . Appearing a year before his death the book contains his final thoughts on the subject of remaking American cities in a truly 'organic' and 'democratic' style. In its pages Wright outlines his vision for his ideal Broadacre City and many of the themes explored here had preoccupied the great architect for much of his life.

As an insight into Wright's philosophy of architecture it is invaluable. Indeed the work is part philosophical and political treatise, and part, prescription for his 'democratic' city of the future.

His plans have been dismissed as Utopian and criticised for being too auto centric but at least one commentator has recently suggested that it may be time to take a second look -  Is the world ready for Frank Lloyd Wright’s suburban utopia?

In the final part of 'Living City', Wright poses the following question:-

"Do you question the fundamental direction for American citizens of the future? Then first learn the meaning of these words:-

'Organic' 'Decentralisation' 'Integration' 'Democracy' " 

In issuing the above challenge, Wright clearly intends that you should acquaint yourself with his own interpretation of these terms.

Organic Architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright did not coin the phrase 'organic architecture' and he wasn't the first (or last) to use it but a number of relevant themes emerge from a consideration of his work and writing.  It is difficult to precisely define this term and it is certain that Wright's understanding of it grew and developed throughout his career. Broadly speaking, however, he was determined that his buildings should be constructed to harmonize with their surroundings in such a way that - "No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together with each the happier for the other." He also preferred to build with local materials wherever possible.

Importantly he also insisted that - "The reality of the building does not consist of the roof and the walls but the space within to be lived in”. Consequently the interior space determines the exterior form and there should be a sense of space flowing through the interior rooms. The use of L-shaped designs with copious window space was also intended to blur the distinction between exterior and interior, once again enhancing the sense of space.

Decentralisation

Wright was no fan of the American city in its present form. He regarded it as the embodiment of a form of centralisation intrinsic to modern capitalism and cursed by the burden of 'rent' which it imposes on its citizens. Wright defines various forms of 'rent' and seems to include wage labour amongst them. He wished to abolish overcrowding by building more spacious communities in which each couple would have an acre  of land, more for larger families, at their disposal in which to  practice agriculture and grow vegetables  both for their own consumption and for sale at local community markets.

Integration

Lest the above prescriptions should sound like a recipe for vastly increased suburban sprawl, albeit with bigger yards and better designed houses, it should be noted that Wright's communities would be provided with integral features like community centers, design centers and roadside markets. These would integrate, or reintegrate citizens with their local communities just as the newly designed homes would reintegrate them with their environment.. These features will be discussed later in this article.

Democracy

Wright believed that architecture is, "... the logical outline, the background and framework as well as the philosophic and aesthetic center-line of any true civilisation."

Consequently he believed that it alone possessed the power to create an environment in which a true capitalist democracy could flourish. Witness the following from 'The Living City':-

"Optimistic, nonpolitical, exurban, vernal, spacious, free! All this - yes. In practical outline here is the feasible idea of organic  social democratic reconstruction of the city belonging to creative society - the living city. Abolish not only the 'tenement' and wage slavery but create true capitalism. The only possible capitalism if democracy has any future."

Whether the breadth of Wright's vision was powerful enough to achieve the effect that he desired is up to the individual reader to decide but for now let's examine some of the features of his ideal or 'Usonian' * communities.

'The Living City' contains sections on many of the building types that will grace the Usonian city of the future. There are chapters on offices, apartments, motels, theaters etc. But perhaps the structures that would most exemplify the philosophy and spirit of these settlements are the following three.

Community Centers

These would be - "a salient feature of every countryside development of the county, wherever the county seat may be."

"Golf courses, racetracks, the zoo, aquarium, planetarium - all would be found at this general center. Good buildings grouped in architectural ensemble with botanical gardens, art museum, libraries, galleries, opera etc."

As will be seen from the above quotation these centers would serve a much wider variety of functions than present day community centers do. They would serve as mini 'town centers' offering a full range of recreational facilities.

Design Centers

These would be 'live in' establishments where the brightest and best in the local community or those with some flair for practical design, would work with machinery donated by industry to create new and original designs. Industry would also provide tutors for these style centers and benefit from the results of their work. Wright insists that there should be no entry exams for these establishments. He also maintains that these centers would have real producing power and that, "each month a supply of usefully beautiful things would be ready for roadside markets."

Roadside markets are perhaps one of the more interesting and original features of the Usonian community and we will turn our attention to them next.

Markets

Wright describes them as follows:-

"Great spacious roadside pleasure places these markets, rising wide and handsome like some flexible form of pavilion - designed as places of cooperative exchange, not merely of commodities but of cultural facilities."

Wright sees the germ of these future establishments in modern day county fairs and farmers markets, however in the Usonian community of the future they would serve a multiplicity of new roles and would replace city centers as hubs of exchange and commerce. Critically they are 'places of cooperative exchange' so we must assume that the many  local homeowners and small scale agricultural producers, all those families living nearby with one, two or more acres of land, would be able to market their surplus produce here.

Local 'design centers' would also display and sell their wares in these markets.

Further Reading

Should you wish to read beyond this brief introduction to Wright's Broadacre City vision the following links will prove of interest:

Revisiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Vision for “Broadacre City”

Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Living City” Lives On: Conserving the Broadacre City Model



* 'Usonian' is a term which Wright often employs to describe his uniquely American organic, democratic style of architecture. He claims to have borrowd it from Samuel Butler's 'Erewhon'. Interestingly it has been claimed that Butler nowhere employs this term in his work.

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A Visit to the Gordon House


By Ceri Shaw, 2022-01-02



This is a brief photo blog about a recent visit (2014) to the Gordon House, Silverton, Oregon. The trip was organised by the Welsh Society of Oregon . The Gordon House is the only Frank Lloyd Wright site in the state and is currently managed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy who offer 45 minute tours of the house and grounds. The Gordon House website can be found here:-  gordonhouse.org

History

From the Wikipedia :- "The house was designed in 1957 for Evelyn and Conrad Gordon, and finished in 1963 (four years after Frank Lloyd Wright's death). It was originally located near Wilsonville, Oregon, situated to take advantage of views of the adjacent Willamette River on the west side and Mount Hood to the east. After Evelyn Gordon's death in 1997, the house was sold to new owners David and Carey Smith, who wanted to tear it down to make room for a larger, more contemporary structure. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy became involved in attempts to preserve the historic house. The "Building Conservancy" is an organization devoted to advocating for Wright buildings, and finding sites for buildings that have been put on the market. In early 2001, the Building Conservancy obtained a three-month reprieve to dismantle the Gordon House, and move it to the Oregon Garden, about 21 miles (34 km) southeast of its original location. The Conservancy accepted a proposal from the Oregon Garden Society, assisted by the City of Silverton, to take charge of moving and reinstalling the house. Dismantling began on March 9, 2001. The house was moved in four large pieces, with the upper floor, containing two bedrooms and one bath, moved as a single unit. Overall neglect required refurbishing of the structure's siding and roofing which was arranged by grants from the Architecture Foundation of Oregon and the Oregon Cultural Trust. A new foundation replicating the original was constructed. The house opened one year later as the only publicly accessible Frank Lloyd Wright home in the Pacific Northwest."




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Many of Americymru’s audience will recognise the name Gwenno Dafydd. For several years Gwenno has been Americymru’s ‘Global Saint David Day Ambassador’ in recognition of all the voluntary work she has done over the last fifteen years and more in developing and instigating new Saint David’s Day traditions in Wales and further afield.

Traditions such as an anthem for Saint David’s Day: Bilingual words: Gwenno Dafydd. Music: Heulwen Thomas - Which can be bought here: Tycerddshop three County Banners: Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Montgomeryshire, parades and school banners - the first of which is now firmly ensconced in San Ffagan - Wales’s National Museum of History. 

You may also have read on Americymu about the Celtic Cousin trilogy of songs and films promoting Scottish and Welsh Independence instigated, directed and co-written by Gwenno (Bilingual words: Gwenno Dafydd. Music: Katherine Cole) Further information here: Youtube

Gwenno is now launching a new record ‘label’ which will enable people to buy some of the tracks from the various projects she has been working on over the last few years. This record label is in fact only a label in name so that songs can be launched onto digital platforms such as Itunes. ‘I wanted to have a name that could be easily said by non-Welsh speakers and as ‘Coctel’ suggests a combination of ingredients which can be put together to create an exciting and intoxicating outcome, ‘Coctel’ seemed to the ideal name’ said Gwenno.

Katherine Cole and Gwenno have been collaborating for the last six years or so on several song-writing projects. One of these songs ‘Behind a tiny window and it’s Welsh version ‘Tu ol i ffenest fychan’ will be the first song to appear on ‘Coctel. These two songs were launched on the 13 th of December in time for Christmas.

During the ‘covid crisis’, that has impacted our lives over the last nearly two years, the ways that we now communicate with our nearest and dearest has been transformed. Most of us have had to learn how to communicate through the ‘tiny windows’ of our computers – either through Zoom, Skype or Facetime as opposed to the ‘tiny windows’ we would have peeped through in the past before entering our loved one’s homes. There is no time more important for families than Christmas and in this song we count our blessings that we have at least the ‘tiny windows’ of our computers to bring us closer to our loved ones and hope that ‘this too will pass’.

Both versions have been recorded by an exceptionally talented young singer, Jodi Bird. The former Ysgol Bro Morgannwg pupil w as named Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod’s ‘International Voice of Musical Theatre’ for 2019. She was also in the semi-final of ‘Britain’s got Talent’ and on the stage of Wales’s Millenium Centre.

Some of the other songs which will be released before long by ‘Coctel’ will be the Celtic Cousins trilogy, the Saint David’s Day Anthem, a song about the tragedy in Aberfan and a song about the second home crisis in Wales.

Both Katherine and Gwenno have separate creative projects – Gwenno has a one woman show about the French singer Edith Piaf (‘Passionate about Piaf’ which had a lot of success in the West End before the pandemic) and Katherine with musicals ‘I Merlin’ (Paget Rooms and Weston Studio, Wales’s Millenium Centre) & Rhiannon and these also will be available to be bought on the label.

All tracks will be available here: https://orcd.co/behindatinywindow

Or on itunes here:

https://music.apple.com/gb/album/behind-a-tiny-window-single/1599732888

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Libertino's final release for this year is the incredible collaboration between N'famady and Gruff Rhys. Miniyamba / Leaving the Town is a reworking of a traditional West African song with lyrics in Welsh and Malinké.

N'famady explains how the song was created:

"'Miniyamba / Leaving the Town', the reworking of the traditional West African song that Gruff Rhys sang on the Pang! Tour, is therefore a perfect choice for this collaboration. The song describes an ancient legend the snake that guards a village, forbids anyone from entering or leaving, until a woman who wants to get married tries to bargain with the snake until she gets "Leave the Town". The last release for Libertino this year is Miniyamba / Leaving the Town is a reworking of a traditional West African song with lyrics in Welsh and Malinké.

N'famady explains how the song came about:

“Miniyamba / Leave the Town is a reworking of a traditional West African song that enchanted Gruff Rhys on the Pang! tour, which made it the perfect choice for this collaboration. The song tells of the ancient legend of a serpent that protects a village by allowing one in or out, until a girl who wants to marry a great snake "Minyamba", and her hopes and fears when finally able to "Leave the Town" (leave the village).






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