AFON was a small performance Festival located largely in the village of Abercych, and along the Rivers Tefi, Cych and Dulais.
Walking Bodies of Water – Jo Young and Saffy Setohy
Saturday 14 September
“I experienced Afon to be a refreshing confluence of people, place, practices and ideas. The invitation to experiment and be responsive was a rare and valuable chance to work with what emerged in the time and place. Simon and Stirling held this space with complete trust, care, and generosity. The event was well organised and communicated. It was one of my favourite experiences of the year and I came away with much learning and inspiration.” Saffy Setohy
A Drop in the Ocean – Jess Allen
Saturday 14 September
Jack Smylie Wild
“The offer of performing at afon presented me with a precious opportunity to distil and articulate years of river thoughts and river feelings (accumulated in the course of researching a prose book centred around Afon Teifi) into a flowing, multi-layered piece of poetry. Having written my eponymous piece (afon) over a series of weeks especially for the festival, on the day itself I chose to type it on the banks of the river on my old typewriter. One of the purposes of this was to mirror Teifi’s own gentle summer pace: in an age of fast, cheap and ephemeral words, to manually and patiently type out the poem, adding an audible rhythm to the water’s own music, seemed a respectful way to honour the small ale-brown gods of the river world. Writing as meditation; copying out words in blue ink as a prayer. The sun beat down and, thudded letter by thudded letter, the poem began to emerge:
I have been many times
to the sources
in the hills
close to the centre
where grooves in the peat
channel and merge
and form the first flows
that join and grow and gather
to pool together
into Llyn Teifi.
I have seen the skylarks and the ravens there,
the kites circling above vast plateaus of moor grass
I have followed the way of the river
down from the hills, through sleepy farmland, to the sea.
As the afternoon drew on and I came towards the end of copying out the poem, a gust of wind snatched the original notes from my desk and spun them aloft out over the water to merge silently with the wet membrane of Teifi’s silken surface. Off they drifted, downstream. My typed poem was left incomplete. The river, it seemed, would have the last say: “What’s with all the writing? To know me, slip in.” – Jack Smylie Wilde
Penny D Jones – Washing
“I found the experience enriching and stimulating. I planned to wash baby clothes and nappies to highlight the unmarried mother not being accepted in a small Welsh community. I spoke to a number of women who all were excited by the idea and confirmed the best place was where the river is accessible, by the pub and the landlord agreed for me to do it there. Two of the women I had spoken to came and watched me. I think it was centuries ago that women washed clothes in the river as women described a big tin bath by the house was what they remembered. The experience has set me off on another project to do with women’s equality in Wales.” – Penny Jones
Katherine Hall – Movements of Care
“It was really special to be invited to share my Movements of Care work at Afon Festival. I admire Simon, Stirling and Maynards team for curating a festival that really is in relation with the local people and surrounding environment and attempts to build awareness around ways that being with the local could connect you to the global. It was my first experience of being part of a festival where it felt like the local environment, people and invited artists could all be involved in performing and being an audience. Sometimes the river was the audience, sometimes it was performing. It was great how the festival could be responsive to everyone and everything and gave space to explore, be curious, be in conversation. I enjoyed being able to have relaxed encounters with a balance of art works that were made on site over the festival days or have had a long life. The Maynard team have a gift at hosting generous spaces to encounter trust, learning and ways into creating or thinking new.” – Katherine Hall
“The process and legacy of the work has, for me, created a keen sense of connection to the river and the surrounding area, a feeling of being part of the artistic continuum existing in the teifi valley. A community and practice connecting us all both locally and to the wider cultural landscape.” – Jacob Whittaker
David Nash – Wooden Boulder
“Thank you for sending this appraisal of the village response to the Wooden Boulder film. To receive an email like this is so rewarding. The Boulder story seems to engage with so many people and they tend to emotionally invest in the narrative. I have come to realise the Boulder belongs to the everybody.” – David Nash
“Friday 13th, first evening, a village hall full of folk- we need more chairs- a local river song, 13 ingredient cookies and the film Stones Have Laws…and they do, don’t they?
All ages turn up for an early morning swim beneath the waterfall- Annwn, bodies of water, meandering journeys, spontaneous exchanges, a community of river people… a film of an oak boulder in the playground, river films in the pub lounge, films in the hall and swimmers in front rooms… a man types a poem to the river on the bridge, a woman appears with yoke and buckets of water, asks questions and grants wishes and disappears… there are workshops, people move with the rivers questions…there is good food, a woman washes children’s clothing in the Cych and hangs it under the bridge, by the pub, drying in the afternoon sun… a dancer performs care in the village hall… at the end of the day, at the full moon, we dance together with Carreg Bica and another dancer shares his fears of a changing climate…
Sunday morning river DJ, a vinyl floor, children handling old records and listening to rivers, good coffee and pastries… a walk to the Cych again and we witness a dancer in synergy with river- eddies, reflections, currents and planetary forces- collective awe…walking back to Abercych in the quiet and after a last visit to 2 Penrhiw to the underwater swimmers in the parlour we drive to Poppit- a last swim together- artists, public, children looking out to the wider horizon and a dancer steps on a weaver fish- a rush to find boiling water, the inner dance as the pain subsides and then again, we follow the river home…
Dydd Gwener 13eg, y noson gyntaf, neuadd bentref yn llawn pobl – mae angen mwy o gadeiriau arnom – cân afon leol, cwcis ag ynddynt 13 cynhwysyn a’r ffilm Stones Have Laws … ac mae ganddyn nhw, onid oes?
Mae pobl o bob oed yn dod i nofio yn gynnar yn y bore o dan y rhaeadr – Annwn, cyrff dŵr, teithiau troellog, cyfnewidfeydd digymell, cymuned o bobl yr afon … ffilm o glogfaen derw yn y maes chwarae, ffilmiau afon yn lolfa’r dafarn, ffilmiau yn y neuadd a nofwyr mewn ystafelloedd fyw … mae dyn yn teipio cerdd i’r afon ar y bont, mae menyw yn ymddangos gydag iau a bwcedi o ddŵr, yn gofyn cwestiynau ac yn caniatáu dymuniadau ac yna’n diflannu … mae yna weithdai, mae pobl yn symud gyda chwestiynau’r afon … mae yna fwyd da, mae menyw yn golchi dillad plant yn y Cych ac yn eu hongian o dan y bont, wrth y dafarn, yn sychu yn haul y prynhawn … mae dawnsiwr yn perfformio gofal yn neuadd y pentref … ar ddiwedd y dydd, yng ngoleuni’r lleuad lawn, rydym yn dawnsio gyda’n gilydd gyda Carreg Bica ac mae dawnsiwr arall yn rhannu ei ofnau am hinsawdd sy’n newid …
DJ afon fore Sul, llawr finyl, plant yn trin hen recordiau ac yn gwrando ar afonydd, coffi a chacennau da … taith gerdded i’r Cych eto ac rydym yn gweld dawnsiwr sydd mewn synergedd â’r afon, myfyrdodau, ceryntau a grymoedd planedol – syfrdandod cyfunol … cerdded yn ôl i Abercych yn y distawrwydd ac ar ôl ymweliad diwethaf â 2 Penrhiw â’r nofwyr tanddwr yn y parlwr rydym yn gyrru i Poppit – i gael nofio gyda’n gilydd am y tro olaf – artistiaid, y cyhoedd, plant yn edrych allan i’r gorwel ehangach ac mae dawnsiwr yn camu ar fôr-wiber – rhuthr i ddod o hyd i ddŵr berwedig, y ddawns fewnol wrth i’r boen lleddfu ac yna eto, rydym yn dilyn yr afon adref …” – Simon Whitehead
Diolch i Ray Jacobs am y ffotograffiaeth
Thank you to Ray Jacobs for the photography