“Resounding success” for RIAH’s Being Human: Heritage, Health and Wellbeing public events series

Swansea University’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH) has reflected on the resounding success of its series of public events, on the theme of ‘Heritage, Health and Wellbeing’, as part of last month’s national Being Human 2015 festival.

View the Swansea University ‘Heritage, Health and Wellbeing’ Flickr gallery here.

Being Human logoRIAH was chosen as one of five hubs across the UK for the festival, which ran from November 12-22, and hosted eight free public events. The events were made possible by a grant from the festival organisers, the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy (BA), and the Wellcome Trust.

Researchers and the public explored what it means to be human at venues across the city including the Hafod Morfa Copperworks, Clyne Farm Centre, the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea Museum Collections Centre and the University’s Singleton Park Campus.

Art at the HafodDr Elaine Canning, Head of Swansea University’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH), in the College of Arts and Humanities, said: “Many thanks to all – staff, students, partner organisations, and most importantly members of the public – who supported and contributed to this year’s series of events for the Being Human festival.

“We had a hugely successful run of lectures, performances, workshops, competitions, debate and discussion, which had a wide reach and impact across the city – none of which would have been possible without the involvement and generosity of so many groups and individuals.

“There was a fantastic turnout across all the week’s events, with almost 400 people attending in total.

“We hope these events inspired, entertained, and encouraged debate and discussion around our chosen theme of ‘Heritage, Health and Wellbeing’ and we look forward to building on this success in future years.”

Windsongs of the Blessed Bay 1Professor Martin Stringer, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and the University’s lead for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said: “My congratulations to Dr Elaine Canning and her colleagues within RIAH, as well as the multitude of partners, collaborators and contributors who made this year’s events possible and took the very best of RIAH’s research into the wider community in such a meaningful and successful way.

‌“It is important the University recognises the very significant work that RIAH has done to engage the wider community through this year’s Being Human festival, bringing richer and closer links for the University – and we celebrate all they have achieved.”

This year’s public events organised by RIAH and its partners included:

  • The Annual Richard Burton Lecture 2015, on the topic of ‘Educating Richard:  Actors and Educators in Port Talbot, 1925-55’, which was given by Angela V John, Honorary Professor, Swansea University, College of Arts and Humanities. The lecture took place at Dyffryn Lower School in Port Talbot on Wednesday, November 11.
  • ‘The Young Heritage Apprentice’, aimed at 14-18 year-olds, which challenged school teams to develop a project associated with Cu @ Swansea, an ambitious heritage-led regeneration initiative focusing on the 12.5 acre site of the former Hafod-Morfa copperworks in the Lower Swansea Valley. The presentations and award ceremony took place on Thursday, November 19, at the National Waterfront Museum and welcomed finalists from seven schools – Birchgrove, St Michael’s Llanelli, Maesydderwen, Bishop Vaughan, Pontarddulais, Cefn Hengoed, and Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr. The Birchgrove team’s winning entry focused on maximising the impact of a heritage park to suit every individual.  
  • An Open Mic Event – ‘Poetry and Happiness’ took place on the evening of Friday, November 13 at Steam Coffee Shop and Tea Room, in Uplands Crescent, Swansea, led by former Swansea University Creative Writing student Natalie Holborow, winner of the 2015 Hetherington award for ‘Blood Sugar’ and versifier at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace.
  • A live art session, entitled ‘Art @ the Hafod – the spirit of place’, which was led by artist Dan Llywelyn Hall, took place at the Hafod Morfa Copperworks on Monday, November 16. The event, in partnership with Swansea Museum, welcomed 40 members of the public and focused on the spirit of place and connection with the environment through drawing and painting, while also engaging with the material culture relating to industrial heritage, which is part of Swansea Museum’s collection.
  • A public debate on ‘Disability and Wellbeing: past, present and future’, in partnership with Disability Wales, which took place on the evening of Tuesday,November 17, at the Council Chamber, Abbey Building, Swansea University. The event focused on how the happiness and wellbeing of disabled people have changed over time.
  • An interactive performance workshop with members of Theatr Cadair, which took place on Wednesday, November 18, at Clyne Farm Centre, Swansea.  ‘Windsongs of the Blessed Bay’ included a hands-on workshop on ‘creating drama from heritage’ by award-winning dramatist Professor David Britton, Head of Creative Writing at Swansea University’s College of Arts and Humanities, and the cast members.
  • ‘Y TRI Meuryn (neu Strictly, Come Barddoni)’, an evening of competitive poetry held through the medium of Welsh took place on the evening of Wednesday, November 18, at Capel Soar Pontardawe. The event provided a night of fun and laughter, and poetry, in the company of some of Swansea University's award-winning poets and renowned literary critics. Three local teams competed against each other and attempted to gain the highest score from the three judges, Professor Tudur Hallam, Professor Alan Llwyd and Robert Rhys.
  • The ‘Experiencing the Enclosed Garden’ event on Friday, November 20 enabled attendees to discover how the medieval garden was filled with plants with theological, sensory and medicinal uses. The event took place in the Castle Room, Fulton House, at Swansea University’s Singleton Park Campus, and featured short presentations followed by participants trying their hand at 'pinning the plant on the person', to learn which plants healed what, and why.

For more information on Swansea University’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH) click here.