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A Day for Stepping Lightly

By  Claire Barber 2001
In the summer of 2001 I took part in the third of a series of residencies on Bardsey Island in collaboration with the Bardsey Island Trust supported with funds from Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno. I arrived at a significant moment in the island’s cultural history. The last of the flock of Welsh sheep, resident for hundreds of years were leaving the island and I acted quickly to retain some of their fleece. Renowned for being the burial ground for 20,000 saints, I paid homage to the sacred ground by centring most of my felted work upon the notion of ‘treading softly’. Living in the cowshed, I became part of the island community and performed a series of artworks led by an interest in repurposing things found and through the construction of a series of swings from driftwood planks I created the means for not actually treading on the ground at all. The swaying movement across the swings inspired me to reconsider daily patterns of a day, such as walking across a room to make a cup of tea, unsettled by the island’s remoteness and the constant presence of the sea lapping at the shoreline. Suspended via ropes and pulleys the swings enticed island visitors to the space and generated interest so that we became united in our common activity of walking on the driftwood planks. This body of work was filmed for the cultural programme Double Yellow, BBC Cymru Wales, programme 3 series 2, 2001, by Lucy Donohue.
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