The volunteers of Mae Gen i Go’, a project to record the memories of Caernarfon residents which is led by GISDA, have completed months of gathering and the first memories are now almost ready to see the light of day in the form of an exciting network around the town.
The project is curated by STAMP, an organisation funded by the Arts Council of Wales with the aim of bringing together the arts, the work of regenerating Caernarfon, and the town’s residents. Mae Gen i Go’ was designed by GISDA, a charity providing assistance and opportunities for young people, in order to ensure the voices of the young are heard, as well as giving young volunteers the chance to feel a sense of ownership for some of the regeneration projects occurring in Caernarfon.
Earlier this year, a group of volunteers were trained by the theatre practitioner Iwan Brioc and since then their endeavours have created a collection of 30 valuable recordings of people of all ages and backgrounds recalling their memories of Caernarfon. Participants were asked about the sensory triggers – sights, sounds, smells, feelings and tastes – around Caernarfon that bring back memories of the town. These memories vary greatly, some being quite recent whilst others were from long ago.
One participant, Emyr Parry, recalled being at school with teachers who were mostly very kind. However, his Latin teacher was difficult to connect with and had no interest in Mr Parry because he was ‘thick’. The teacher later became a barrister, and Mr Parry recalls that one day he had a free afternoon from school so he went along to court to watch proceedings from the gallery. There was his old teacher, in her capacity as a barrister, being treated quite rudely by the judge. But Mr Parry didn’t feel sorry for her at all; rather, he was delighted that she was getting a taste of her own medicine after treating him so badly in school.
Another interviewee, Tomos Williams, remembered tasting a tuna sandwich for the first time, at Babs Gwyn. Another memory came from Nora who recalled an old bakery on Snowdon Street where the baker’s apron had turned white with all the flour, and the wonderful smell of the bread every time she walked past. Daf Owain recalled the story of the goat which was kept in the barracks field some twenty years ago. Dafydd remembered stretching to see if he could catch a glimpse of the goat from his bathroom window on Victoria Street, noticing that the goat was never to be seen when Wales were playing rugby.
During the coming month, two artists, Menai Rowlands and Rebecca Hardy-Griffiths, will be creating special QR (quick response) codes for each of these memories. A QR code enables you to hear whatever information it contains by scanning with your smartphone. The QR codes will be located at the exact locations recalled in the memories, and the purpose is to create a network of memories around the town so that everyone can hear them. Look out for the Mae Gen i Go’ codes dotted around Caernarfon over the coming weeks.
The filmmaker Eilir Pierce has been documenting the whole project and releasing the material as a series of short films on the internet to promote the project and to show development. The short films (three have been released so far) can be viewed on the GISDA YouTube channel as well as the STAMP website, at www.stamp.cymru