Music, art and ping pong

Last year Ariana Jordao and myself hosted five artists in residence at the Centre for Alternative Technology, enabling them to come up with a creative response to the considerable archive of oral history interviews collected through the Voices from a disused quarry project, now archived at the National Library of Wales. Two of the artists – Christine Mills and Carlos Pinattii – collaborated to create an art installation based around a table tennis table, which they named Receive and Return. We receive from the earth so we must also return something to the earth (in the sense of giving something back). On Friday we were extremely pleased to attend an event in a Bangor shopping centre where five students of composition at Bangor University presented five different musical pieces based around the themes in Receive and Return as part of Bangor Music Festival. I’ll post more about it next week and put some photos up but whilst its fresh in mind I just wanted to note that Receive and Return has taken an interesting creative journey. The central element – a map of the world – was first created in a three day workshop working with clay and plaster moulds, before being digitalised and  layered as a piece of vinyl on to a table tennis table and given a surround sound video accompaniment. And now the piece has a musical layer to it. The creative process can unfold in many different directions and I wonder where it will go next but this idea of starting something in the very physical world of clay and plaster and continuing it in the spiritual world of music is very interesting. One student created a piece using instruments and the table itself, with two players playing a game in time with the music. I could picture this on a grander scale with a ping pong table in a concert hall in Wales and a full orchestra.

New book coming soon

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve blogged but I’m happy to say that I’m kickstarting the blog again. My life has changed quite a bit in the last two years. I’ve moved house so there won’t be any more posts about my steep shady garden looking over the flood plain of the Dyfi valley. I’m now living with four friends in a housing co-op in Machynlleth with a big garden and lots of life, both human, animal and plant. Incredibly its south facing with a big open aspect, and we’ve got raised beds and a polytunnel to grow in. But a lot of other things have changed in my life too and I want to reflect this in the blog.

During the last three years I have been working on an oral history project about the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT). You can find out more about this at For the last few months I have been writing a book about the project Voices from a disused quarry – an oral history of the Centre for Alternative Technology. This will be published and launched towards the end of May.

So although there may well be blogs about gardening in the future it’s also likely that I’ll be posting about oral history, politics, arts, theatre, environmental change, environmental history, swing dancing (a significant passion!), co-op living and any other subject I think people might be interested in knowing about. So come back and join me soon. All the best, Allan

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