Friday, May 30, 2008

Radnorshire Arts Update

Work continues apace on Llandrindod's newly discovered inner gateway, we'll post pictures as soon as the installations are installed. Can't wait.

Meanwhile some sad news from St Peter's Church, Evancoyd where a 500 year old painting by the Italian artist Bernadino Luini was stolen from the church. Who even knew that such a treasure was to be found there?

Finally lets mention a challenging new work from that little known Breconshire artist Steffan Powell (right) called "Soggy Soggy Soggy Olé Olé Olé" - a collection of sodden Panama hats collected from this year's Hay Literary Festival field.

UPDATE, I've always been a great supporter of Breconshire artist Steffan Powell, sometimes against my better judgement, so it was with sadness I heard that, since his recent critical success, Steffan seems to have ditched his old friends - admittedly a rather sad and desperate bunch - for a newer, trendier crowd. On a totally unrelated matter it was good to hear that the Liuni has been recovered from a Mid-Wales art gallery.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ffransis Payne

"Et nous, dont le nom connu des goélands et des cormorans, Fut banni de tous les langages humains, De toutes les bibliothèques, de toutes les cartes terrestres"

Having been educated in 1960s Radnorshire it was an easy thing to relate to the words of the Breton singer Alan Stivell. Our history, too, was untold, buried in dusty manuscripts, replaced by stories that had no place for our heroes, our writers, our songs. My first real inkling of all this came in 1968 in the sedate surroundings of the Ty John Penry bookshop in Swansea's St Helen's Road. Here I came across two recently published volumes by Ffransis G. Payne, Crwydro Sir Faesyfed.

Supposedly part of a travelogue series covering the thirteen Welsh counties, the two Radnorshire volumes contained much more, the broad outlines of a suppressed and forgotten history. Two books written about, rather than for, the people of Radnorshire, folk who were, in Payne's words, unaware that the fragrant names of their parishes and farms sparkled like gems in works that would be an adornment for any literature. Struggling to understand these books with the help of a Spurrell's dictionary, I soon became aware of another truth about Wales in the Sixties. Payne's elegant prose was quite beyond many of my Welsh-speaking friends, the education system had left them practically illiterate in their mother tongue. Clearly the liberation struggles of 1968 needed to be fought far closer to home than many imagined.

Ffransis Payne was born in Kington, Herefordshire in 1901 and it was perhaps the tomb of Elen Gethin and Tomas ap Rhosier Fychan in the local parish church, where he was a choirboy, that awakened his interest in the history of Radnorshire and the border lands. In the 1920s Payne got on his bike and cycled west, working as a farm labourer in order to learn the Welsh language. In 1936 he found a post as an assistant keeper at the National Museum of Wales, coming to wider notice in 1943 when a collection of his essays was hailed as a modern classic of Welsh prose. Despite his lack of academic qualifications, Payne's meticulous scholarship saw him appointed as deputy curator of the Welsh Folk Museum in 1948. In later life Payne did infact study for a degree and had the amusing experience of having to answer a question on one of his own essays in his final examination. In 1969 Payne retired from the Folk Museum and moved back to Radnorshire, he died in 1992.

They were not followed by their betters was Payne's judgement on the old uchelwr class who sustained the civilised society in Radnorshire deep into the Sixteenth Century. As a scholar of Radnorshire and her history a similar judgement can surely be passed on Payne.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Llanbister's Outraged Moralists

A quaint Radnorshire custom from 1898, just click on the cutting to enlarge

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Verdun Edwards - Wesh Formula One Driver

Welsh Formula One drivers are few and far between but now, thanks to an illuminating post from his grand-daughter on the TNF site, we can safely add another to the list.

Verdun Edwards was born in Brynna, Glamorganshire in 1916. For the 1958 season Verdun and his business partner Ken Flint purchased one of the B-series Connaught Formula One cars which had been auctioned off when the company was wound-up in October 1957 - I wonder if this car had passed through the hands of one Bernie Ecclestone?

In any case, on April 19th 1958, Edwards drove the Connaught in the Formula One Aintree 200 mile race. The event was won by Stirling Moss, a car's length ahead of Jack Brabham, with Salvadori and Scott-Brown third and fourth.

Edwards had spun out - a spectacular gilhooley in the words of Autosport - at Country Corner and did not finish. Although his race ended somewhat ignominiously with a stalled engine, Edwards had joined, on that Easter Saturday afternoon, the select company of Welshmen who raced in Formula One.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

100RMI (update)

It's more than a year since I posted about Innes Ireland's Lotus Eleven with the personalised number plate 100RMI. At the time I rather naively believed that this was an Irish registered car with a Wexford plate. Of course I underestimated Radnorshire's most famous racing motorist .... the plate was, as Ireland later admitted, "entirely fictitious."