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Joanne Masding


St Edeyrn's Village, Cardiff

Public art commission for a new housing development
Commissioned by Persimmon Homes and Studio Response

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#makefuturevillagehistory is a permanent public artwork for St Edeyrn’s Village that will be installed in late 2021.

To understand the local context and history of the site I ran a series of clay making workshops with residents and invited Dr Simon Dixon from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of Birmingham to research with me in public.

The clay workshops were to explore with residents what St Edeyrn’s Village might leave for the archaeologists of the future. In researching St Edeyrn’s Village, I met with the archaeologists who had recently excavated the land underneath the village, recording and preserving the archeology before building works began. They found evidence of Roman settlements, dating back to over 1,600 years ago. Discovered artefacts show that Roman communities worked together on industrial activities like casting and smelting, making objects such as tools and jewellery, and they also came together to socialise and worship at shrines. As a new village, St Edeyrn’s is in the process of developing its local identity and this is shaped by the community living here. With question prompts such as ‘What tools do you use?’ and ‘What is the voice of the new village?’, residents made over 100 objects including chips, a unicorn horn, an iPhone and an ambulance. These objects form the collection of raw material from which I will make the public artwork.

I ran a celebratory event where we threw ceramic objects into a pit in new village green, which continue to live on under layers of mud, grass and weeds.

I invited Dr Simon Dixon from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University of Birmingham to discuss the geographical and geological history of the site, using a variety of maps to ask questions about where St Edeyrn’s Village got its shape and form from. Simon spoke about how the Earth is far from being static, and instead is being constantly being reshapes in subtle, and not so subtle ways, by both natural forces and by humans. We talked about how pas evidence of reshaping can be traced in the present landscape, discussing the changes to field boundaries at the onset of mechanised farming, a path cut into the ground through use over more than 14 centuries, and the formation of Cardiff bay with movement of ice and rock over 10,000 years ago.