History in our hands

The project combined poetry and participatory visual art to raise awareness of and celebrate the Haverfordwest Townscape Heritage Initiative.

Local writer, Kerry Steed was commissioned to write Building Stories – a new collection of poems focussing on the historic heart of Haverfordwest. The project began with research in the County Archive and Haverfordwest Town Museum as well as with key members of the town’s Civic Society. Then, using a method called Poetic Transcription, where dialogue is recorded and recreated in poetry or short prose,  people’s memories of the buildings and the social history associated with them was recreated in poetic form.

Every afternoon throughout the winter half term spacetocreate ran drop-in workshops with artist Pip Lewis to create portraits of the beautiful buildings that make Haverfordwest such a unique and special place.

Using old and contemporary photographs, alongside digital applications such as google maps, simple drawing, tracing and collage techniques built a unique picture of the town, seen through the eyes of those that live, work and play here.

Nearly 100 people took part in the project as a whole, ranging in age from 7-77, including 15 Welsh speakers. 80% of people who took part in the workshops said they had learned lots of new skills and techniques and 70% felt fantastic about Haverfordwest.

Fantastic workshop! Relaxed atmosphere, creative techniques, local focus, community nourishing…great opportunity for meeting new people!

It’s made me think in a different way about creating experiences for the  community. We need to think of other ways of filling the buildings with experiences retail giants can’t. My head’s buzzing

It’s funny, when you start talking about the buildings, you realise how much they mean to you. I hadn’t realised how much I love them actually. Thank you.

It’s great to actually be able to talk about how I feel about the town, about the experience of growing up here. It’s not often you get to stop and actually take time to think about it, to think about how you feel about where you live.

Building Stories was printed in a limited edition of 200 and distributed to all those that took part, or came along to the launch of the exhibition at spacetocreate on 23 March 2019. Copies are available from the Library and can also be seen here in an online edition.

The project has been supported by Pembrokeshire County Council’s Haverfordwest Townscape Initiative and the Heritage Lottery Fund.