REVIEW: Green Arts at the Eisteddfod
All last week, Swansea played host to the National Eisteddfod of Wales - an annual festival dating back to the twelfth century celebrating Welsh art and culture and supporting the continuing use of the Welsh language. Green minded visitors would not have been disappointed by the numbers of stalls and organisations supporting local food and crafts. Gwalia Stores were selling produce from all around Wales including rather trendy welsh wool blankets, including those designed at Melin Tregwynt. There was new cheese to be sampled from Pont Gar - excellent! Naturals Cymru were displaying smart clothing woven from welsh wool and made in Wales. If you wanted to take up the harp, this was the place to be as well as watching skilled performers there were Welsh harps for sale (at a price!). Welsh gold and other locally crafted jewellery was also on sale (try Menai jewellery).
Highlights for me including viewing the craft and design gold medal winning jewellery by Carol Gwizdak of Nantgaredig. Her rings made from silver and other natural materials were ecologically inspired which understandably impressed the judges. In contrast a far more humble craft on show was rag rugs made from discarded sheets from a local Swansea hospital (Loomessence). In a similar vain 'Zalingai' had a beautiful range of women's accessories and rugs using recycled textiles.
As well as being a great place to listen to choirs, singers, musicians and poets, the Eisteddfod is an effective way of charities and public organisations reaching to the Welsh public and those who'd travelled from afar. There were representatives from Wales Fair Trade Forum (Fair Do's shop, Cardiff), Environment Agency Wales, Oxfam, Organic Centre Wales and Women's Institute. It was great to see so many people supporting sustainability; Organic Centre Wales was giving out local organic directories and even the good old WI were chatting about their campaign against supermarket packaging. My only real bug-bear (apart from that awful dusty gravel surrounding 'y maes' (the showground)) was all those disposable pens, badges, carrier bags and leaflets being handed out. Well done to 'Keep Wales Tidy' campaign who gave out keyrings made from recycled coffee cups and the Environment Agency for their hemp reusable bags - I didn't get the latter I am sorry to say, apparently people were queuing up every day for this freebie!
Other interesting notes:-
The Wales Fair Trade Forum will be holding their annual conference in Newtown 11/11/2006.
The first Eisteddfod is commonly thought to have been held in 1176 at Cardigan Castle. However I picked up information from the Organic Farms Network that a soil association approved farm in Carmarthenshire - Dolcoch - has a standing stone commorating an eisteddfod in 1140.
Browse and buy Welsh crafts at Ecco Wales [Pictured - Flower rag rug from Zalingai]