Saturday, 31 January 2015

KNIT A CHILD WARM









KNIT A CHILD WARM

So, there I am on a cold October morning, preparing to take the children out for a Story Trail in the 'watch your breath make cloud shapes' air. 

It's very chilly, so I put on my big coat, gloves, hat, and off course, my lovely 'cwtch in warm' scarf. 

I go to get the children.

It's tough times everywhere, but particularly in low income areas and the funding for my work places me mostly storytelling in areas such as the Heads of the Valleys or the top of the Rhondda. Money is tight.

Whilst I am wrapped up snug, increasingly I have found that the children do not have gloves, nor hats, no scraves nor mittens.

As I drove along the M4 back home, I cried. I couldn't believe that right here on our doorsteps children are cold. 

How can you possibly have the same access to the opportunity for learning if you are freezing cold? 




I thought of the words of Ghandi ...
Be the change you want to see in the world.

When I got home, I opened a project on facebook called:
 KNIT A CHILD WARM

It's a simple concept. If you knit, are in a knitting group, or if you have a family member, neighbour or friend who is always knitting and would like a 'cause' to knit for, tell them about my project.

Pat Price, the Headteacher at PenPych Primary School, Treherbert, has very kindly agreed to be the central collection point for the project and your woollies are then disseminated to children as and when they come for outdoors activities. They get to keep them.

Funny thing is. Do you know what has happened? 

Woollies have become a 'thing'. A trendy must have accessory! It's very exciting when they arrive.



Staff have started being more woolly aware, children walk up to me in break times to show me their hats and scarves, pleased as punch.


I can not begin to tell you how much that warms my heart.

So here's the next phase! We are going to learn to knit and make out own woollies so that we can ... 

KNIT OURSELVES WARM 
next winter

                   


There is no funding for Knit a Child Warm. 
I do it because I can.

We have had boxes of beautifully hand made woollies from Knitting Groups all over the UK. Bless you. You have kept little fingers, heads and necks tucked away from the cold.

Because there is no funding , please provide for your own wool and postage to school from wherever you are. 

This is where you will be sending your lovely hand knitted things, to a little school tucked into the foot of the Rhigos Mountain in South Wales.

Miss Patricia Price

Head Teacher
PenPych Community Primary School
Blaenrhondda Road
Ty Newydd
Treherbert
Wales
CF42 5SD

& to finish this blog post, I will leave you with a story that no doubt you as well as I, were told as a child ...

The Little Match Girl

Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening-- the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.

One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other should have children himself. So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from cold. She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and she held a bundle of them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole livelong day; no one had given her a single farthing.

She crept along trembling with cold and hunger--a very picture of sorrow, the poor little thing!

The flakes of snow covered her long fair hair, which fell in beautiful curls around her neck; but of that, of course, she never once now thought. From all the windows the candles were gleaming, and it smelt so deliciously of roast goose, for you know it was New Year's Eve; yes, of that she thought.

In a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other, she seated herself down and cowered together. Her little feet she had drawn close up to her, but she grew colder and colder, and to go home she did not venture, for she had not sold any matches and could not bring a farthing of money: from her father she would certainly get blows, and at home it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.

Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a world of comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw it against the wall, and warm her fingers by it. She drew one out. "Rischt!" how it blazed, how it burnt! It was a warm, bright flame, like a candle, as she held her hands over it: it was a wonderful light. It seemed really to the little maiden as though she were sitting before a large iron stove, with burnished brass feet and a brass ornament at top. The fire burned with such blessed influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl had already stretched out her feet to warm them too; but--the small flame went out, the stove vanished: she had only the remains of the burnt-out match in her hand.

She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room. On the table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon it was a splendid porcelain service, and the roast goose was steaming famously with its stuffing of apple and dried plums. And what was still more capital to behold was, the goose hopped down from the dish, reeled about on the floor with knife and fork in its breast, till it came up to the poor little girl; when--the match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind. She lighted another match. Now there she was sitting under the most magnificent Christmas tree: it was still larger, and more decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door in the rich merchant's house.

Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and gaily-colored pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when--the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a long trail of fire.

"Someone is just dead!" said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.

She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.

"Grandmother!" cried the little one. "Oh, take me with you! You go away when the match burns out; you vanish like the warm stove, like the delicious roast goose, and like the magnificent Christmas tree!" And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of keeping her grandmother near her. And the matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day: never formerly had the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety--they were with God.

But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall--frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Stiff and stark sat the child there with her matches, of which one bundle had been burnt. "She wanted to warm herself," people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.



Come gather with me

                                   

So, what is gather?

Essentially, gather is an idea I had and if you read my blog regularly, you know what happens when I have ideas!

The idea was based on a growing need to feel more connected with the events I  organise. As they grew bigger and bigger (the last one had 13,000 people through the gates in 2 days) so my creativity became marginalized and I seemed to spend all of  my spare time organizing events for other artists to share their work, whilst having no space to pursue my own journey. The balance had become unequal (again).


My view is that a large sector of society has come to equate 'success' with BIG but actually, through my MA, I have come to realize distinctly, that depth can be equally, if not more powerful and far reaching as breadth.


              



The first of my gathering experiments was in Burry Port this week, in a lovely little cafe owned by Alex Norton called The Surf Bar Cafe. 



                             


I live in Llanelli and I have been working in Plas Y Mor Day Centre for Older Folk as a Consultant for Joseph Rowntree Foundation as part of the DEEP Project based at Swansea University. (Developing Evidence Enriched Research). 

Using Storytelling and Poetry, Music and Song, I have created a self help CD to help people with dementia lead their own table top choirs, working closely with Betti Williams, a 96 year old woman living in Burry Port.

During my lunch break one day, I popped into the Surf Bar Cafe and got chatting to Alex who offered to help at the Day Centre. He was so kind and community spirited and trying so hard to make a go of his business in Burry Port, that I wanted to give him something back. To help him in some way so that his generosity was reciprocated. I talked with him about gather and asked him if he would like me to organise one for him.

I decided that the space lended itself well to a small intimate Spoken Word Evening where experienced, through to novice,performers could come and experiment or share their work.

Then I put a shout out on my facebook.

The following team were allocated spots:

                                              



Me: 
I gave a Haiku or two about presence, experimented with a tibetan singing bowl to restore peace in the room & shared a song I had written with Betti about her time as a girl growing up in Parc Howard, Llanelli

Sam Collins from Llanelli
Gifted and experienced creative Artist Sam, performed her experimental Live Blog for the first time.


                              


Mark Montinaro
A Touring Actor  from Laugharne gave us poems and monologues from his recent tour.

Ron Savory from Cross Hands
Known more for his vast experience and talent as a singer/songwriter, this was only Ron's 6th Spoken Word Event, we would never have known tho.

SJ Alexanderson / Arthur Pineapple
I hadn't met Arthur before in person but I knew his work from a facebook poetry gallery that we both belong to. I am so glad that he was able to come and share his 'poetry with social conscience' 

                              



Alongside these gifted & very experienced Artists, I created  Open Spots for:

Marilyn Williams who read us her own story
David Wallington who took us back to the 1950's
Lee Weston shared his journal from a trip to Scotland
Kymer gave us a Spoken Word rendition of Jimmi Hendrix
Shelly Underhill-Savage sung us her beautifully crafted self penned songs
& Alex Norton shared the story of The Surf Bar Cafe


    foto by Lee Weston

The evening was a resounding success on 2 very important levels.

First, because everyone had a fabulous time. I had tremendous feedback. Lee Weston said:

'Such a fantastic night, I hope the energy created seeps into every orifice of Burry port and it's neighbours, soul medicine!!'


The second level is the one that meets my core aim of gather, the reason why I  give of my time to do it. Lee Weston and Alex Norton have decided to run their own gather Spoken Word Events on a regular basis at the Surf Bar Cafe and Ron Savory is planning to run a gather Spoken Word Event in Cross Hands, where he owns and runs his Music Shop Sticks and Picks.

Like I said on the night: 'You do not need a 'Cheryl' to run your own gather-ing!'

... on the night Ron said to me 'from little acorns...' and the end of that saying is ' big trees grow' but it got me thinking that actually, some really beautiful little and equally as important trees can grow from small acorns too.

My next gather event is on the land of the very beautiful Morfa Isaf Farm in May. I have invited 8 artists  to share their creativity with each other and bring friends. We will promenade from the edge of Llangrannog, overlooking the sea, inland Kirtan singing with 'Louise Thorndycraft Blue Sky Yoga' and spend the day trying out new creative ideas together, building partnerships for the future.

In June, I am taking an inter-generational team of 12 Artists to the Promenade Festival in Tramore, Ireland having been kindly invited to put together a Welsh Team by Artistic Director Sean Corcoran & Tramore Tourism.

I feel that in Burry Port this week, I have begun to plough the land, planting the first of deeply considered saplings . I will smile knowing that they do not need me to grow but that I made them possible. 


PS: There is no 'funding' for gather. I do this because I can. Thanks for reading.


PPS. Keep an eye on the Llanelli Star over the next 2 weeks. They are kindly accepting a story that will be written by Kay Owen who came along on the night.

www.cherylbeer.co.uk


Friday, 30 January 2015

The Promenade Festival 2015. Tramore, Ireland






I am so utterly chuffed to be invited for the second year running, to put together and Co-ordinate the Welsh team of Artists for The Promenade Festival, Tramore, Ireland.


Sean Corcoran & Sam Collins

My dear friend, Sean Corcoran, is the Artistic Director. Last year I took a team of 6 of us and we had a blast.


This year I am taking a  team of 12 of us!

Last year's Welsh Team


So what considerations did I make this year?

First off, I decided that I would try to take equal numbers of men and women artists, all of whom are outstanding and totally committed to the arts in Wales. 



Secondly I thought long and hard about offering opportunities for experienced artists alongside breakthrough older artists, rather than the traditional younger person: to create opportunities for Welsh Artists from across genres and from across all decades.




So, that's what we have!

Poets & Artists, Singer /Song Writers, Dancers, Performers, Actors, Storytellers, in their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's & 70's.


I am still waiting for all the photographs to come in but here is the team, hot off the press:

Cheryl Beer: People Poetry & Meditative Sound
Anne Lister: Singer/Song Writer
Mab Jones: Spoken Word Poet
Sam Collins: Creative Artist
Fiona Winter: Energy Moves
Amanda Rackstraw: Storyteller
Paul Edwards: Singer/ Song Writer
Ron Savory Singer/Songwriter/Poet
Mark Montinaro: Actor
Bob Edwards: Actor
Lloyd Roberts: Graffiti Artist
Dominic Williams: Spoken Word Poet

Thank you so much Sean for inviting us and to the Tramore Tourist Board for funding our trip




Wednesday, 7 January 2015

too personal



This Saturday I am beginning a new creative journey so deeply moving, so intense, that I am still breathing in the joy of it and bathing in its beauty. For the first time since I opened Fusion Inspire, I feel unable to blog about this aspect of my creative journey, it is almost too sacrosanct. Does that make sense? 

Needless to say, I want to share with you the immense depth of joy this gives me in my soul to have found this precious jewel for myself and to acknowledge that it's ok for me to feed my own soul in this way.

Doubtless, when I have the journey under-way and am re-balanced on the earth beneath my feet , I will share with you, but my friends, the point of my blog today is just this; that sometimes the joy is so great that there does not need to be a point.