40 Voices 40 Years – The 40th anniversary of Welsh Women’s Aid

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Since February 2018 I have been working on building an archive of digital stories for the Forty Voices Forty Years project. Through travelling the length and width of Wales I have had the privilege of meeting the most amazing and incredibly strong women. Through interviews with Welsh women of all diverse backgrounds and age, I’ve captured the stories of the Women’s Aid Movement and the violence against women movement in Wales over the last 4 decades.

It has underlined my understanding that Welsh Women’s Aid are at the forefront of empowering survivors of domestic violence and abuse and aim to keep their voices at the core of the work they are doing.
I also turned 40 in 2018, and I’ve learnt so much about how Welsh Women’s Aid have pushed boundaries, created change and put policies in place for example with Welsh Government but also put the movement into perspective of what still needs to be addressed to make change and make a fear free world for women and children.


The archive contains stories from Jane Hutt AM who was the first co-ordinator for Welsh Women’s Aid in 1978 to stories that were created at workshops with survivors of domestic abuse who felt confident to share their experiences with the project.
With interviews and workshop stories surpassing the big 40, we were able to bring in Lisa Heledd Jones and Iain Peebles of StoryWorks to edit the remainder of the digital stories. With their impeccable delivery we have made the deadline to finish the project just before time.


In 2018 the Forty Voices Forty Years exhibition toured the following venues: Galeri in Caernarfon, The Welfare Hall Ystradgynlais, Swansea University Library, The Faculty of Creative Industries at USW and The Cynon Valley Museum Aberdare. Visitors could listen to the digital stories I created and learn about the history of Welsh Women’s Aid.

A larger exhibition containing objects and digital stories will open on the 24th January 2019 at St Fagans National History Museum Wales until late February 2019.

The archive will be deposited at National Library Wales and uploaded to The People’s Collection Wales in early 2019.

Forty Voices, Forty Years is a heritage project led by Welsh Women’s Aid in collaboration with the George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling at the University of South Wales.

We are grateful for the generous support of our funders enabling this project to go ahead, including Heritage Lottery Fund, the Big Lottery Fund’s National Lottery Awards for All and Hanfod Cymru.




Interviewing ‘the most dangerous man in Britain’ for Trouble Makers Festival


A typical ALARM! cover / Ian Bone and Ray Jones – 29th June 2017


Back in Spring 2017 I was asked to research, interview and create an oral history archive of Swansea’s anarchistic underground and counter culture from the late 1960s to the early 1980s for the Trouble Makers Festival held in and around High Street Swansea on 13-16 July 2017.

Working with Swansea Museum, we went to London to interview the notorious Ian Bone at his home. Ian Bone was the editor of ALARM! magazine, the anarchist underground newspaper that was published in Swansea throughout the 1970s which amongst other astonishing things brought Swansea to its knees and exposed corruption within its local council. Read all about it in his book ‘Bash The Rich: True Life Confessions of an Anarchist in the UK’. It’s a fantastic read.

                                           Ian Bone in 1968.  Riots on Mumbles Road

Through collecting objects and ephemera linked to ALARM! and then getting our hands on an immaculate complete set of ALARM! magazines (which is an education in itself, a complete set of ALARM!’s are held at West Glamorgan Archives) from a local man, this lead to an exhibition at Galerie Simpson where the opening night was graced by the good the bad and the punk of the local anarchist trouble making scene of the last 50 years.

As well as interviewing Ian Bone and provocateur and raconteur Ray Jones, I was fortunate to capture the story of Rose Davies who shares her involvement in Swansea’s political and class climate in the 1970s which includes attending the Women’s Liberation Group as a teenager and then setting up a women and family refuge in the Sketty area of Swansea in the early 1970’s.

Rose Davies at her home in May 2017. She is holding up the photograph of her protesting about women’s rights & housing homeless families outside Swansea Council’s Housing Department in the early 1970s. The book is the infamous ‘Bash The Rich: True Life Confessions of an Anarchist in the UK’ by Ian Bone.

I then met with Melvyn Williams who recalls his teenage years as an activist in Swansea in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The oral history includes getting involved with an underground publication and its printing, Alarm! magazine and the political climate of 1970s & 1980s Swansea & beyond.

I’ll write a bit more detail soon. I’ve not had time to write recently.

The links to the oral histories are above in the Soundcloud page.

Enjoy, be astonished and laugh, some of the stories are some of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.



The Heritage of Orchards & Cider Making in Wales project

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Since April 2016 I’ve been building a digital archive for The Heritage of Orchards and Cider Making in Wales project, a 2-year project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and run by the Welsh Perry & Cider Society and The George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling at The University of south Wales.

By travelling the length and width of Wales, I’ve collected and edited oral histories and digital stories, through interviews recorded with cider and perry producers, community orchard groups, heritage organisations and individuals involved in orcharding and producing the very Welsh produce called cider and perry. Within this period I delivered many digital story workshops & Pop Up Story shops for community orchard groups at traditional folk events like Wassails all over Wales. In April 2017 I presented a paper on my work on the project at The Storytelling and Place Symposium held at The University of south Wales, Atrium.

I’m currently putting the final touches together for a touring mobile exhibition that will interpret the project as a whole. The exhibition will visit venues from May 2018 starting at The National Waterfront Museum Swansea and taking in National Trust properties at Erddig Hall, Wrexham & Dyffryn Gardens in the Vale of Glamorgan, The Welsh Perry and Cider Festival 2018 at Caldicot Castle , The National Eisteddfod Genedlaethol 2018 in Cardiff & Hereford Cider Museum.

Find the digital story collection in the link below:
The Heritage of Orchards & Cider Making in Wales project

The collection will be in available in mid 2018 as a public resource via its own website, The People’s Collection Wales and St Fagans National History Museum.

Find out more about the project here:



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Below are some snaps I took on my journeys.


Modernist Swansea: Harry Everington’s 1969 concrete sculptural mural is back to its original glory



Guerrilla Restoration meets ABMU Health Board

It was fantastic to have had an email from the ABMU Health Board earlier this year.
Martin Thomas who leads the ABMU Heritage Team contacted me as he was researching what public art the health board owned.

Martin came across my Guerrilla Restoration work and the previous work I’d done in highlighting cleaning samples of Harry Everington’s 1969 abstract concrete sculptural mural over the last 5 years.

Taken from the ABMU Heritage blog, here’s what Martin said of the project:
“When we started this group we carried out a scoping exercise to see what historical artefacts the health board owned and this mural came up.
“When I did more research I found out about Catrin’s project and we thought it would be a good idea to help finish what she had started.
“We thought this would be a great opportunity for us to clean a very neglected sculpture.
“This is quite an important one, we own it, so we should look at after it and because it’s in the centre of Swansea I think we’ve got a responsibility to keep it clean.”
Clean up groupBEDIT
Laden with buckets of hot soapy water the ABMU Heritage Team and I got scrubbing the mural back to its former glory. I am so happy and proud to see one of my favourite concrete murals back in the public eye.
Eager to witness the mural’s transformation was Judith Everington whose father Harry was an inspirational sculpture lecturer at Swansea Art College.
It was under his guidance that students from the college produced the mural which was put on the building’s exterior back in 1969.
Returning to Swansea for the first time in half a century she instantly recognised her late father’s influence on the sculpture.
Harry Everington
Harry Everington
“I am delighted to be here to see this – the minute I saw this mural I thought of my dad. He was passionate about his work and he would have been very pleased to see this being restored to its former glory, I think this is a brilliant idea,”  said Judith, who had travelled from her home in Birmingham accompanied by her partner Kevin Reilly.
The mural set on the facade of Central Clinic, Orchard Street Swansea is on a very busy road. The mural is very large and with neglect, traffic fumes and the last few decades’ dis-taste for midcentury design, the mural fell into the background noise, dusty and ignored.
I’ve always loved this mural. Post war architecture especially in Britain has always been the focus of my output as an artist and has been a life long personal interest.
Alas mid century and brutalist are now the buzz words and height of fashion, hopefully this project will attract fans of midcentury and brutalist architecture to Swansea.
This is all positive as hopefully The 20th Century Society will catalogue the mural and make sure it is listed.
My work here is done.
Photos copyright of ABMU Health Board and Judith Everington.



Owen Hatherley talk – 15th January at Galerie Simpson, Swansea


I am very happy to announce that we have managed to get Owen Hatherley, a big inspiration behind Austerity Nostalgia to come to Swansea for a talk and discussion at Galerie Simpson on Sunday 15th January.

I’ve been reading his work on architecture, social commentary and the past for a few years whether it be his books like The Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain and the more recent The Ministry of Nostalgia or his Guardian articles.

I just think he’s bang on the money.
It’s an exciting thing that he is coming to Swansea as part of the exhibition.

A light brunch will be served in true wonderful Galerie Simpson style.

Owen Hatherley

Sunday 15th January

Galerie Simpson
222 High Street


All welcome.





Austerity Nostalgia – New group exhibition


Save the date!

We have a group exhibition opening on Saturday 5th November at the ever supportive Galerie Simpson, Swansea.
4pm-7pm – All welcome.

At the beginning of 2016 I was very fortunate to be asked by the gallery to curate a group exhibition.  I instantly knew the topic and who I wanted involved.
The themes of Austerity & Nostalgia in all it’s guises run through the work they’ve created for the show.

Here’s the official press release:

Galerie Simpson is delighted to present ‘Austerity Nostalgia’ –  a  show of our time,  curated by Catrin Saran James.  Our second exhibition with Catrin, this promises to be a real catalyst for thought, discussion and debate.  Austerity Nostalgia has recently become a cultural and artistic obsession and Catrin looks to explore artistic response to this current trend for sampling public modernism. She says of the ideas behind the show,

 ‘‘I’m interested in how the recent past is re-interpreted. With my Archivist hat on, it’s something that’s on my mind a lot. This covers social history, politics, fashion, domesticity, design, music etc. I’m looking at the time between the 1930s to the 1980s. These decades are continually being rediscovered and possibly mis-interpreted to reflect a false authenticity. This could possible change future generations perspective of what was the recent past. You see it already with sanitised versions or rose tinted spectacles of what it was like to live in WW2 with the term ‘Blitz Spirit’ being over used, a new festishisation of Brutalist architecture and the like and possibly looking back to even the Miner’s Strike in the early 1980s with films like Pride. Austerity Nostalgia is a question more than a statement, a subject I’d like to talk to others about and does it really matter?’

As in her solo project at Galerie Simpson, this show is set to ask as many questions as to give answers.   She cites  – ‘Are those sampling their way through eras and cultural movements ripping it up and putting it back together in a tasteless manner?   And if so, is this because they are simply taking visual nods from popular culture to create a morphed past of cross-culture mulch? By doing so are they ultimately giving young people who are interested in scratching the surface in mid 20th century history the wrong information? Are we devaluing our cultural and social history?’ 



Above – Mark James


Hope to see you at some point over the duration of the show.

The Galerie Simpson Selection Box has arrived and what a beauty she is

The Galerie Simpson Selection Box is a very special limited edition fundraising portfolio project.
Managed by Jane Simpson, Jane has spent the last 6 months working very hard bringing together 18 artists to create brand new pieces of art especially for this unique box of tricks. Each box is hand varnished, laser cut and houses all 18 pieces of art.
Artists include Peter Blake, Jamie Reid, Gavin Turk, Gary Hume, Rachel Whiteread, Simon Periton amongst many others!

Mid varnish workshop


Limited to 50 Selection Boxes the 18 artists include  many of my heroes.

I’ve been very fortunate to be selected to create a silk screen and digital printed piece for the Selection Box.


Gavin Turk – ‘G.T’ Biscuit 2016

‘Tuck Shop’ – Silk screen and digital print on Somerset satin. 2016


This gold plated leaf by Simon Periton is stunning and is placed on a red velvet bed in the Selection Box. A delicate feast to the eyes.


Above is the Peter Blake print that is included in the Selection Box and a beauty it is too.

More details to follow to how to purchase this unique work of art.

Galerie Simpson is part of The Arts Council of Wales, Collector Plan.

We have a party at Galerie Simpson on Friday 22nd April to launch the Selection Box and there will be a London launch later this Spring.




February 2016 – Hackney Archives

I spent the whole of February working at Hackney Archives. This local authority Archive contains all documents relating to the borough of Hackney. Based at Dalston Junction, I rode the number 56 bus everyday to work on the historic photographic collection held by the archive. My role was to clean up and restructure the metadata held by the archive collection system. The photographs will then be taken to the Digital Preservation company Max Communications who specialise in digitising large archival photographic collections.
Once the photographs are digitised Hackney Archives are able to give digital access to the thousands of fascinating images that they currently hold from the 18th to 21st centuries. It was great to have the opportunity to be a part of the process to make this happen.


I worked with a small team of Archivists who were absolutely wonderful and made my short time working with them very memorable and welcoming. It’s a fascinating archive with community firmly at its heart. I witnessed several community and outreach projects while I was there, with visitors using documents to delve deeper into their own personal social history.
I felt like a bit of an expert on the area even after the first week. As I travelled back and fore to work I saw the areas from the photographs on my route and I began to have an affinity with Hackney, its people, its businesses and industry. I was also very interested to learn about the many social housing projects that sprung up from the 1930s to the 1970s in the borough and I was fortunate to work with many photographs from the 1950s that covered these new urban living spaces.
It was great to be back working at a local authority archive again and I felt privileged to work with such a unique collection of photographs that will have a new lease of life in the digital world once the project is completed.



It’s The Clash at Victoria Park in 1978!

12825295_10153297231537181_2142042295_nImages copyright of Hackney Archives, Hackney Borough Council.

Post War Swansea photo exhibition

A piece I wrote for an interpretation panel to be displayed next to the images which are now on display at The Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea.

The destruction of Swansea in the Second World War left the town centre with the largest bombsite in Wales. Its reconstruction gave opportunity for young architects to refine a style of modern architecture. Due to the restriction of materials the post-war programme of building a new town centre was based on priorities and budget.
A development plan for Swansea was born.

Town planning advanced in the war and Oxford Street and The Kingsway are two large areas of Swansea’s town centre that were redesigned during the 1950s post-war reconstruction process.



This exhibition of photographs from the 1950s and 1960s are exclusively from Swansea Museum’s collection and have never before been on public display. Swansea artist Catrin James has curated these images and they will play a part in a larger collaborative exhibition of Post War Swansea between Catrin, Swansea Museum and The Taliesin Arts Theatre in the near future.

Swansea city centre is changing again. This exhibition is about reflecting on the square mile of land in Swansea’s city centre where groups of modernist buildings have now stood for over half a century.
It is about considering the materials used, the use of space. It is also about the beautiful design features such as shopfront lettering and coloured tiles as much as the rethinking of new principles in town planning. It is about celebrating Swansea’s post war legacy.


With many thanks to Swansea Museum and The Taliesin Arts Centre.