Cheryl Beer

Cheryl Beer
Award Winning Creative Director making social change through the mediums of sound, story & mantra

Friday, 29 June 2012

Wind Turbines and The Dance of the Ribbons

This is the exact image I had in my head 2 months ago when I wrote the track Dance the Ribbons for my new Fusion Inspire Production:

the dragon tree

I put out a shout on Facebook asking people what they thought of wind turbines and over 70 people responded. The response was polarised. Some believing wind turbines to the worse thing that could ever happen, others believing them to be the future for our children.

I have composed 2 musical pieces to represent this extreme perception. The first is an industrial piece written on the computer with influences from the heavy string section of Elgar's Welsh tune
 ( see earlier blog regarding how I am recording the sea at Llangrannog where Elgar wrote Welsh Tune, to fuse with the industrial nature of the music)

Our main character in the dragon tree, Dafydd, travels from the Wise Women of the West at in New Quay, to find the:

 'Children of the Wind' 

So, you see I had a very clear creative image for the projection back drop of this piece.

  • I went up to film the turbines from all different angles in the village.
  • I wrote to the company owning the land that the turbines are sited (heard nothing back)
  • Contingency: I found a Farmer Arwyn who owned the land in the next field
  • Got Farmer Arwyn's kind permission to use the field.
  • I visited the Head at Johnstown to discuss the children working with me as consultants to create the piece.
  • She arranged for me to meet the Eco Council
  • I had a meeting with the Children's Eco Council who invited me to come and do a more indepth discussion about their role within the production.
  • I went in to do a 2 hour session running through the song, discussing the facebook consultation feedback etc. The children voted to come on board.
  • This work was submitted towards their Platinum Eco -Award
  • I contacted the Dancer who had inspired my ribbon thoughts: Fiona Winter, for her availability. She was touring Canada but would be back end of June.
  • I contacted a fabulous musician who I know is a brilliant wandering minstrel. She was touring Greece and would be back ... end of June! Phew!
  • I also contacted a sketch artist to draw the children but sadly she had an accident the day before the shoot.
  • I went to visit the local garage to ask if we could park there and borrow their toilets
  • I called into school the week of the shoot to check everything was ok
  • I called up to re-assure the farmer and his wife the day before the shoot and arranged that the cattle would be kept in the dairy... Also arranged for the farmer to come up with Flea the Sheep Dog to meet the chidlren

So you can imagine my absolute heart break when we arrived at the top of hill to this ....

The thickest pea soup mist you can imagine, so thick that it was not even possible to see the 10, tall, 150ft wind turbines! In this picture there is one right behind the barbed wire fence!!! Honestly!

We decided that the chidren would have their packed luch and we would hope for a lift in the mist.

I had put a shout on facebook to the Universe (who must be on facebook!) to will the weather to be fair at 12.30pm. I also asked all my facebook chums to will it too. Well, some may say it was coincidence, but at just gone 12.30pm the mist did start to fade.

The children were on the coach and when they saw how big and how close the turbines were, the wonder, the amazement and the thrill that ran through everyone, was more electric than that being generated!

Quick sharp our Dance Leader, Director of Energy Moves,
Fiona Winter, distributed the ribbon sticks.

You can see in this picture that the turbines were coming and going with the mist!

Pretty soon everyone was getting warmed up, even Miss Brunt!

It was magical!

The mist stayed at bay long enough for us to film, to see nearly all 10 turbines, to witness the stunning views ...

One of the most moving things for me, was watching Tom, the Chair of the Board of Governors, with the children.

In the piece the children represent our future and the view that turbines might be the way forward, but they are dressed in traditional costume to represent their connection to their past and their cultural heritage, a reminder that this should not be compromised.

Having Tom there was magical because he is such fun, but also visually, he represents the intergenerational hand over of life's baton.

Thank you to Heather Summers and Fiona Winter for bringing their special magic to the day. .. and thank you to Mrs Starkey, the Head at Johnstown Primary School for her vision in supporting the children to take part in this way. To Miss Brunt and to Tom. To Farmer Arwyn, To the Arts Council of Wales for my Individual Mainline Grant. .. But most of all to the children of the Eco Council for coming, yes, but for caring enough to be part of an Eco Council and for most definitely being the people who will undoubtedly make the decisions about energy in our future.

At the end of the afternoon, I thanked everyone.

And then Miss Brunt said, 'There's one person we really need to thank because without her there would be no Dance of the Ribbons today,' and all the children cheered and hip hip hooray'd for me ... for little old me ... the dreamer who stared out of the science lab window thinking of what could be; Me, up on the tallest hill with the longest views, in the most beautiful place with a whole cast of wonderful people, dressed up and dancing for a song I have written for a production I am creating ...

Diolch Yn Fawr!

 Far bottom right: Me!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Stonehenge Rain!

We had the children out of school at Kidwelly Castle for Tai Chi and it just so happened that on the same day, in the afternoon there would be a replica of Stonehenge as part of a national tour, stopping in Wales for one day only, at The National Botanic Garden.

The brilliantly 'outside the box'  bouncing recreation of a world heritage site offered us a new and quirky way of enjoying history ...  I couldn't miss the opportunity of filming the children in slow motion laughing and jumping around on it in such a beautiful setting.​

The 'pop-up' Stonehenge is stopping off at Heartlands, Pool, and Exeter's Belmont Park

"Sacrilege", the inflatable is the brainchild of Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller.

He described the air-filled landmark as "a way to get reacquainted with ancient Britain with your shoes off".

The installation was jointly commissioned by London Mayor Boris Johnson and the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. Arts Council England have also provided financial support to the work.


 But sadly, looking was all we could do ...

 Because the heavens more than opened
 just as we had taken our shoes off and gotten ready to be tigger-tastic!

Photo by Mair Watts

We stood beneath brollies and trees gazing longingly at probably the bounciest welsh stone we had ever seen!

From my Fusion Inspire point of view, this is the 2nd opportunity to film this month that has been thwarted by a wet June! Usually I take it on the chin and believe that it is what is meant to be, but the production tour starts in January so I need to get things 'in the can' so I can start to focus on the music and story lines ...

There's only one thing for it!


All Aboard the Gwili Steam Train!

Until last week, I didn't know how absolutely wonderful steam trains are! What fun!

I had decided that our main character Dafydd should leave the Dance of the Ribbons at The Wind Farm and travel to the next part of his quest on a train .. I have written a banjo piece to represent the chug of a steam train struggling up hill and then racing off into the distance ...

I was coming back from a meeting at The Arts Council of Wales with my Grant Supervisor when I passed a sign for The Gwili Steam Train.

I popped in and the trains run regularly throughout the day (best to look on line and check before you go though)

So, the next day I took my cameras and tripod and set off to throw myself back in time. I half expected to meet Poirot on the platform!

I set up myself up in one of the compartments. The Guard was lovely. We chatted about Fusion Inspire, my Individual Mainline Grant & the blog, then about his life before he retired in banking and how he now enjoys volunteering at the station as a Guard.

When we got to the end of the short track the driver, fireman and guard asked me if I would like to film 'up front in the plate room.'

This is the actual steam train bit at the front!
With the fire and the driver! WOULD I!!! WOWOWOWOWOWOW!!!!!
It was AMAZING!!!

It is from this very priveliged vantage point that I have made the film scape to go with the piece of banjo music which will be projected during this part of the story line. You'll be able to see it when you come to the production tour  in January/February next year :)

When I got off the train I immediately joined as a member/volunteer because the money raised by this, goes towards keeping a very beautiful piece of our  history alive.

It is the dedication, passion and love of steam trains from the volunteers that make it happen & live on.

They only have a few miles of track and are raising money to build further lines to link up to others, but even so, the whole experience is magical and definitely worth the £8.00 ticket.

On thursday afternoons, they bring the dining coach out and you can go for afternoon tea on the train for an extra £3.50 .. I quite fancy that, tea and scones on the steam train & will definitely be sipping from bone china in the luxury of a by-gone age!

They also have evenings on the dining coach such as Murder Mystery or 1940's which sound like really good fun.

Here's an information film about the station that I found on youtube:

Thank you so much to the Gwili Steam Railway & in particular the Fireman, Driver and Guard who made me so welcome and gave me a lifetime memory which I will always cherish :)

Monday, 25 June 2012

600 Castles: Tai Chi Film Shoot at Kidwelly Castle

Photographs taken by Mair Watts, Deputy Head at Bigyn Primary
I have written a song for my production called;
600 Castles

There are 600 castles on the coastline of West Wales all in varying states of decay and/or repair.

The main  character  in my production is Dafydd who sets off to find
'The Stillness of Decay'
on his quest and finds himself at Kidwelly Castle.

A group of nearly 50 children & teachers from Bigyn Primary School came to the Castle, all dressed in black, ready to represent the stillness and slowness of decay...

... and Teena Gould kindly and beautifully led the group in a Tai Chi session. The very slow movements representing the almost unnoticed changes made in our architecture before our eyes.

I filmed them as a whole and then took off small groups who used their Tai Chi Inspiration in other settings .. the dungeons, the turrets, the hilltops  

It was really interesting that some of the children that we might have least expected, really connected with the Tai Chi on a deep level embracing an inner sense of calm.

Some children played out characterisations.
This is Jasmine as Princess Gwenllian the Brave who died on the battle fields at Kidwelly.

& off course, castles are also
a great place for a picnic!

I will edit this filmscape along with a series of Coastline Castle photographs kindly being taken by an amazing photographer; Darren Boxer 

 ... so that it becomes a projection backdrop for my song 600 castles, one in a series od song & filmscape as part of

the dragon tree

which is the produciton growing and now moving into bloom from my Fusion Inspire: Journey through the Creative Mind.

Many thanks to the Head, Deputy Head & dedicated teaching staff at Bigyn Primary School for trusting the fusion of inspiration & supporting their children to come and take part.

Warm thanks to Tai Chi Instructor Teena Gould.

Many thanks to Kidwelly Castle and Cadw

And special thanks to The Arts Council of Wales for my Individual Mainline Grant.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Mr Blue-face strikes the right chords!

I can not tell you how absolutely thrilling it is to know that so many ukulele players are learning my song for my film shoot re. my fusion inspire production.

I am so excited about it that I could absolutely burst!

We will be in the fabulous setting of The Tin Shed Experience in Laugharne, where Dylan's heart beat echoes as loudly as if it were still beating ... and I think that just maybe it is!

I'm sure he would love being celebrated in this way.

For those of you who would like to come, here are the chords in advance so you have an idea of how it goes! Richard Gent who runs the Swansea group will be going through the chords at his regular meeting this week.

Don't worry too much about the chords folks, we can run through when we get there & EVERYONE will be able to take part whether you can play the chords or not! :))

Diolch x Starts 2.00pm please bring your own uke although I will have my gang of Luna's at the ready!

For those of you wondering, Mr Blue-face refers to the Dylan Thomas Trail Signs
along our West Wales coastline ...

Friday, 22 June 2012

Signing & Singing: A Personal Insight

When I was growing up I had 3 friends who were deaf and one of my closest friends, her mum was a teacher with deaf children.

One of my friends taught all of us the basics in BSL so that we could talk with our hands. 

I used to sit on the grass outside my house playing my  old rusty stringed  guitar, writing my little songs, and sometimes she would come and sit with me.

One day, she pressed her head against my guitar while I played. I thought it meant she could hear the music but in hindsight, I expect she could feel the vibrations of the strings. I showed her my lyrics scrawled on a scrap of paper ... she twigged that I was writing songs and she starting signing my lyrics, with her head still against the body of the guitar.

'You try it' ... I pointed at her .. 'YOU' ... then mimed writing ... 'WRITE' ... and then over exagerated singing ... 'A SONG'

She looked puzzled, then smiled and nodded.

She carefully pushed the side of her head against my guitar and signed her song as she felt it ... she was singing with her sign, writing her own song.

I didn't know what her lyrics were but it was so moving that it stayed with me thoughout my whole life and is probably instrumental in my finding as many ways as possible to bring song to everyone: promoting equal access to song.

When I was thinking about my new production and growing a piece of music from complete silence, it was through this inspiration from my childhood that the idea originally came.

It is very special indeed to be making that so with the help of Maggie Hampton, Director of Disability Arts Cymru and percussionist Rachel Hargrave, thanks both. 

Composing a song in this way is something I have wanted to do since being that child sat on the grass signing and singing. Having an Individual Mainline Grant has given me the space to pursue this as part of Fusion Inspire. 

Mermaid Scales: My first 'Behind the Scenes' Fusion Inspire film

the dragon tree

Sailor Speak, Mermaid Scales & Guinivere Seasalt are the first 3 tracks of my Fusion Inspire production: the dragon tree.

They are a combined concept composition, based on the sign language of my lyrics by Maggie Hampton.

The lyrics from the first 3 songs are based on the old tales from the West Coast of Wales and introduce the audience to a new folk story, one written for yesterday, today & tomorrow ...

I will be making a series of films throughout the process of writing, filming, composing & producing 'the dragon tree' to give you an insight into the layers, the thoughts and reasoning, the creative journey I have taken for each piece.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Quick update Folks!

Hello folks
I am so busy living Fusion Inspire that I haven't got time just now to tell you all about the inspirations this last week, but just had to leave you a quick note to say that ...

I ended up in the actual front of the steam train with the driver when I went to film the Gwilli Railway this week! How totally cool is that! Have written a banjo piece to fit with the rhythm of the tracks ...

It didn't rain for the film shoot of my song 600 Castles, where I was joined at Kidwelly Castle by 45 children with teachers and Tai Chi instructor Teena Gould .. BEAUTIFUL!

It poured down when we took 45 children to a life size inflatable of Stonehenge to film them bouncing on welsh stone at The National Botanic Garden of Wales . The inflatable installation was there as part of the Cultural Olmpiad!

I have almost finished composing & recording the introduction to the production which feels completely magical ... will explain why in more detail but short story, feels like fulfilling a childhood dream!

My Ukuele film shoot at The Tin Shed Experience in Laugharne is set up now for July 1st with Swansea Ukulele Group and others (YOU IF YOU FANCY IT!) who will all be learning my song Mr Blue Face about the Dylan Thomas Trail!

Seriously, ...  if you DO fancy joining us, drop me a line on facebook or email

It's all falling magically into place!!

Will tell ya the full story very soon ... ttfn!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Dylan Thomas The Boathouse: Paned o De?

As you know, I've been longing to go to The Boathouse since finding myself drawn to all the places on the Dylan Thomas Trail at New Quay.

Laugharne has a special magnetism to it. Let's face it, any place with the word 'Laugh' concealed within it, is flirting, winking, beckoning you in; And 'IN' I am!

I thought I might take you on the walk with me from the Car Park, which will be especially nice for those of you who haven't been to Laugharne yet or live so far away that a visit would be a once in a lifetime trip, but that would be a trip worth making, especially if you are a writer or a creative, especially if you love contemporary history, especially if you want to feel close to the heavens, if you feel a compulsion to be part of 'the strangest town in Wales' Although, I do not find it strange, neither do I feel strange within it, it is as if I have always come here to visit, as if my childhood days were spent running back and for to Dylan's writing shed; his seashaken house ... On a breakneck of rocks


So, I start here in the Car Park and this is a wooden sculpture/bust of Dylan looking out over the Taf Estuary & 13th Century Laugharne Castle 

Up past the castle I walk following the immacualtely polished and laid local slate stone pathway until I reach ...


Just time for a quick sit down and a moment to ponder over how I might explain
never going home ...

Now then which way next?

I'm not sure if this is the Graveyard where Dylan and Caitlin are buried. There is just a little white cross for them in St.Martin's Church I know this, but I could not see any signs here so I'm not clear which Graveyard it is. Still, it matters not who is buried in this place, only that many are and where better to rest your forever sleepy head than peeping through the trees to the West Wales coast line; The very coastline that has inspired such wonderful and inspirational  words, beaded like threaded jewels and hung around the neck of one so tall his gifts will always be just out of reach for us mere mortals to assimilate.

Past the marsh ...

Follow the walkway ...

Rows of newly painted railings stand on guard ...

Nearly there ...

Dylan's Writing Shed ... I want one!

I peeped through the door and this is the window on the other side of the writing shed above his desk, so this view is THE view that he will have wistfully gazed from while drinking beer or having a sneaky ciggie & being a genius!


It really is very beautiful indeed, isn't it. Completely inspirational!

The Writing Shed is staged exactly as it would have been had Dylan still been using it ... and if I'm honest, I'm not entirely sure he isn't still there!

And just up from the Writing Shed .. The Boathouse. I didn't take this photo. I've taken it from their website so that you can see what it looks like from a distance.

But I did take these .. down the stairs to the cafe for a  Paned o De ( which is Welsh for a Cup of Tea!)


My Conclusion? Laugharne, The Dylan Thomas Boathouse: A place more beautiful than words can paint, more inspirational than melody can sing & more moving than choreography can leap ...