What’s in a name? That’s the beginning of a quote by William Shakespeare. It’s a question I’ve thought a lot about in recent weeks as I’ve been working on a community arts project in the Waun Wen area of the city. It’s an area that’s gone through a lot of changes over the past 3 centuries and at the moment it’s a 21st century cityscape, with Victorian terraces scrambling up the hills, punctuated by modern social housing estates and areas of unspoilt greenery, bisected by a large busy dual carriageway.
Buried beneath is an Industrial Revolution townscape, poisoned ground – the remains of metal works and spoil tips – a quarry and many culverted and diverted underground waterways.
And under that, a pre-industrial bucolic landscape of rolling hills, streams and brooks, meadows and mills. Very little of that remains, except in the place names, which echo as ghosts of the past in people’s everyday speech. I’ve found that many of the local residents hadn’t realised that these reflect the area’s buried history. The names are in the image above, they’re beautiful in both languages. Some are very specific, for instance “Caepistyll – The Field with a Spouted Waterfall”, but I’m not sure what exactly a spouted waterfall is. I was told it’s a waterfall that seems to flow upwards in certain conditions, but that sounds odd to me. Any geographers out there?
As I walk around following these place names, I imagine what it must have looked like before the brutality of the Industrial Revolution and 20th century urban sprawl.
Walk Waun Wen, Talk Waun Wen is part of the Home and Hinterland art project in partnership with Swansea University’s Taliesin Arts Centre.
A Chance To Own One Of My Artworks
I have some small screenprints for sale, inspired by my drawings of the antique taxidermy collection at Swansea Museum. I have given these vintage artifacts a modern twist by combining them with images of rubbish – old fruit nets, bubble wrap and plastic – highlighting the problem of human pollution and how it affects wildlife.
To buy my work on the Swansea Print Workshop site please click the image to the left.
20 percent of the cost of each screenprint sold goes to support Swansea Print Workshop, which receives no public funding.