Evaluation: SWOT

16/04/2019 | Finding Maindee

SWOT is an acronym.

To 'SWOT', is to analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an organisation as a form of appraisal. From it, you can discern the organisation's current position at a given point in time and forecast future potential.

Finding Maindee has undergone several SWOT analyses in its time. In this blog post, I will be discussing what observations can be made from these analyses, from 2014 to today. 

SWOT analysis taking place at Llyfrgell Maindee Library

Evaluation: What are we doing?

05/04/2019 | Finding Maindee

April is Autism Awareness Month. World Autism Awareness Week tak is takes place during the first week of April, and Earth Day is celebrated on the 22nd of the month. In Maindee Unlimited's calendar, April will be dedicated to evaluation.

 Blog banner for evaluation


With this blog post, I will be sharing what we are doing as part of our evaluation, from SWOT analysis to a Hockney-esque patchwork of Chepstow Road (and a few other bits in between).

Finding Maindee: Reflection & Evaluation

25/03/2019 | Finding Maindee

Finding Maindee is coming to a close. Financially, the project closed on 28th February, 2019, and we have now entered the final phase of reflection and evaluation.

This blog post, and subsequent posts, will be used to formally and professionally evaluate what has happened; to reflect on what went well and what could have been improved, to document lessons learned, and to look to the future role of art, regeneration and place recognition in the lifespan of Maindee Unlimited.

The informal and the personal will inevitably creep into this evaluation, partly because that’s how I think and write, and also as I have become intrinsically intertwined with Finding Maindee, Maindee Unlimited and the library over the last three and half years.

The push and pull of place

08/02/2019 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Development & Building, Community, Opinions

In January 2019 a seminar was held in the library to reflect on the Finding Maindee project. The delegates and presenters were asked to question the role of the arts in ‘place-recognition.’ This blog by Aled Singleton breaks down that complicated question and looks at some of the themes that emerged.


St Mary's Community Garden

18/01/2019 | Finding Maindee, Community

The green spaces in Maindee have always been a priority for Finding Maindee.

This blog post shares the journey of a group of volunteers who are refreshing a previously neglected, grassy knowle on the corner of Corporation Road and Wharf Road, that they have named, St Mary's Community Garden. 

Child running in the St Mary's Community Garden

Maindee Library: A Quiet Place?

16/08/2018 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Community

A few weeks ago, Maindee Unlimited invited applications for a Sound Artist, or Artists, to produce a new art installation for the newly refurbished Maindee Library building, with the commissioned work to be situated and made in response to aspects of the social and cultural ecology of Maindee.

Beyond this remit, the brief was open, and our plans for the outcome equally so.

This blog post will detail the choices and decisions we made to appoint a Sound Artist. 

Maindee Library: Business As Usual

06/08/2018 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Community

In case you haven’t already seen, heard or wandered in… we are back in Maindee Library. 

Welcome board in the foyer of Maindee Library.

Nonsensus – A Journey Into Being Sung

17/05/2018 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts

Over the past two months we have been developing the infrastructure and systems of Maindee Library. In the background work has continued with the artistic community of Newport to create pieces of work that interpret how people have been Finding Maindee. 

In this blog article Rhian Hutchings explains how the findings from Steven Jones' Nonsensus work are being produced into a unique piece that can be sung. Rhian and Steven are pictured above with a copy of the Nonsensus

Stuart Farnsworth - Maindee Nonsensus Q&A

08/03/2018 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts

On Tuesday 27th February over 30 people squeezed into the Holbrook Studio on Chepstow Road to meet Stuart Farnsworth as he explained the story behind the 188 pages of raw data found in the 2017 Maindee Nonsensus.

According to his clipboard Stuart met 12.85% of the householders [and homeless] living within Maindee. Some of the responses to his 3 questions were short, but some people shared personal experiences about their lives and one lady recited poetry. At one property Stuart’s singing technique was tested. All of these words, including the ‘yeahs’, ‘ha has’ and ‘innits’ are faithfully recorded in the book.

Can you help?

This blog is account of the Q&A session. Although Stuart recorded the whole conversation - and could potentially type if out two-fingered as he did for the book - we have had to interpret and group together some of the conversations. If you want to get a copy of the book there will be some copies for sale at £10 in the Maindee Library and the pdf can be downloaded here.


Reflections on Maindee Triangle Winter 2017-18

01/02/2018 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Development & Building

In mid December 2017 we went up to the Kickplate Project’s 76m2 exhibition space in Pontypool to have a chat with Dafydd Williams. Dafydd spent a week in October as an artist in residence in Maindee - taking portraits next to the toilets at the Triangle on Livingstone Place.

Commercial St Pontypool

This blog article recalls how art projects help us sense whether towns and settlements of all sizes have a centre - or not. What are the conditions that change relationships with places? How does Maindee in Newport compare to industrial valleys towns like Pontypool and Abertillery where populations have more than halved in 100 years.

We also also talked about Warsaw in Poland, where the majority of the city had been destroyed in WWII. What happens when people have to think again about what they want from their town or city. Above all we confirmed in our minds that arts activities help to bring people together and help us make conversation.


Finding Blaenavon & learning about Enterprise Facilitation

30/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Learning

For the last couple of years we have been trying to find Maindee. To be honest this is hard as the people living in this place keep on changing and there are other names which confuse the geography... like Corporation Road, Victoria and even Beechwood. Last week we went to the end of X24 bus route from Newport - to the town at the top of the valley called Blaenavon.

Jayne and John in Blaenavon

This article mostly centres on what we learned from Jayne Skyrme [pictured above left], who lives and works in Blaenavon. What we found were some lessons about facilitating enterprise and understanding what it means when a place has a strong sense of its own identity.

Library Refresh about to get real!

29/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Library

This week we will receive quotations from contractors to carry out the first phase of works to the building. With a written proposal we will then be in a situation to enter a contract for the work; gone will be the big questions about how long the work will take and how much it will cost. 

Contractor visit Maindee Library

This blog is essentially a diary entry written before the big event. We explain some detail about the Arts Council of Wales' socially-engaged process which got us to this stage and some of the challenges which we have confronted - or maybe about to properly face...

New Paths November 2017: Creative Ways of Making Money?

23/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts, Development & Building

The November New Paths session explored creativity and asked about ways of making money. The main focus for the session was the presentation delivered by the student group making the mobile cafe, with updates on Cinema Speaks from Bernie and Fez giving us some background on how the Newport Photomarathon been shaped and delivered.

New Paths Gathering Nov 17

We also moved the session from the library over the road to Holbrook Studio, which was the HQ for the Newport Photomarathon and also the venue for a new creative business that Fez is developing.

Responding to Toilet Debate: 3 Questions for Localities

10/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Community, Learning

On Tuesday 7th November 2017 we hosted a memorable and successful seminar which started with presentations on the specifics of public toilets, but broadened out [as we had hoped] towards wider discussions about public space and social justice. To pick one message from the day is quite easy: Clara Greed said that: “We have to talk toilets because if we’re too embarrassed to talk about them then we won’t get policy right.”

Attendees at seminar

This blog article gives us a resume of the day and sets out what a small charity like Maindee Unlimited, based in a very specific locality, may be able to do to protect and provide public toilets in a place like ours. As such we will explore the following questions:  (1) how can communities organise around issues of provision e.g. for consultations like the one which we learned will happen in Wales in 2018; (2) can toilets become/make desirable urban destinations and (3) Are Local authorities still the best-placed provider for toilets?


Toilets, Public Space... and Social Justice?

03/11/2017 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Development & Building, Community

Next week we run our first public seminar since the event on Church Road in June 2014 which helped to plan Finding Maindee. Three years on many artists, volunteers and members of the public have gained experience of running the library and working through the challenge to Find Maindee. In the wider world of public space the impacts of austerity have continued; in Newport - like every locality in Wales and the UK - we are collectively having to make very difficult decisions about what is worth sustaining.

Toilet seminar

Though the event next week focuses on the important issue of toilets, with some excellent speakers and links to policy-makers at Welsh Government, we want to go further and ask what this means for social justice. For example, are models such as the Business Improvement District [BID] an alternative way to manage public space and to what extent are the civic or the community, that’s to say volunteers, willing to go in taking on responsibilities for public services and public facilities? Is this fair?

This blog article outlines the social justice debate that this seminar will explore and why the arts are providing opportunities to explore the use of public space in Maindee.

Update on Maindee Triangle at Livingstone Place

19/09/2017 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts, Development & Building

Since the summer of 2017 architects and artists KHBT have been working on design proposals for the triangle-shaped land at the junction of Chepstow Road and Livingstone Place. In July they made a first visit and then came again the present initial proposals to the New Paths Gathering in August. Since then views and ideas have been sought; there have been changes to the design and we now have more detailed proposals and a hand-made scale model in the library [see below].

Karsten with Triangle model September 2017

This blog explains the process that we have gone through: the inspiration; the constraints and what has changed in the design proposals. We actively invite people to comment on the designs to get a stronger idea of what is possible.

Newport Photomarathon - Maindee Sat Oct 28th

14/09/2017 | Street Media, Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts

The first Newport Photomarathon comes to Maindee Library on Chepstow Road to start at midday on Saturday 28th October. Over the following 24 hours the photo marathon entrants will be going around the city taking photos and also sampling some of the 6 workshops on offer. 

 Newport Photomarathon

This blog article gives an insight into the collaboration behind the scenes, not only between artists but also from businesses and organisations ranging from the Camera Centre to Newport Transport and Coleg Gwent.

Evaluation of Finding Maindee

04/09/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Learning, Library

On Monday 4th we welcomed Endaf Griffiths from Wavehill Consulting to the library for discussion about evaluation; how we are gathering data and how we learn. We had a diverse range of views and perspectives at the meeting, including from PhD researcher Eugene Dubens, Maindee Unlimited trustee Angela Lloyd, artist Stephanie Roberts and somebody quite new to the library Kay Flatten.

Stephanie Roberts and Kay Flatten

This blog article explains the conversation we had and gives an approach to project evaluation. We provide some detail about how we are gathering data and reflecting on practice as we: (1) develop capital projects such as work to Maindee Library; (2) work individuals and organisations as part of our monthly gatherings and running projects such as through New Paths; and (3) how we are learning by doing.


13/08/2017 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts


New Paths Gathering - July 2017 retrospective

09/08/2017 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts, Learning

We try to write up a record of every New Paths before the next one takes place. On this occassion we are only just going to get one in before the session tomorrow on August 10th at 6pm with Stephanie Roberts and KHBT.

Last month we had an update from George Lovesmith on the library project which then linked us into three presentations from art spaces in south Wales. First of all we heard from Dan at the Elysium Gallery in Swansea, followed by Dai from Made in Roath in Cardiff and then Zosia and Dafydd from the Kickplate Project which is currently working in Pontypool.

Kickplate Project at New Paths

We moved on from these presentations to hear a little about plans for the the 2017 Newport Photo Marathon with Fez Miah and the finishing with Karsten and Bernd giving their perspective on the Maindee Triangle. There is a longer write up about KHBT on our blog; they will be joining Stephanie Roberts on the agenda to host a workshop at the New Paths session on Thursday 10th August.

Drawing, Space and Articulation - Workshop with Stephanie Roberts 10th August

26/07/2017 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Learning

Maindee Library invites you to a workshop on Thursday 10th August [1pm to 4pm] hosted by talented local artist Stephanie Roberts. Stephanie introduces us to her new project Out of my Mind and she wants the community to join in.

Stephanie Roberts drawing
We were lucky enough to meet Stephanie at the library to talk about her project. This blog account, with insight and emphais added by library volunteer Victoria O'Hagan, describes what we learned.

Introducing KHBT to Maindee Triangle

19/07/2017 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Development & Building

Starting last week Maindee Unlimited are working with architects and artists Karsten Huneck and Bernd Truempler - known as KHBT and pictured below - to develop proposals for the Chepstow Road public toilets and surrounding land at Livingstone [we also call this the Triangle]. 

KHBT have worked widely across the UK and Germany. The impressive portfolio that presented at the July New Paths gathering proved that they always work hard to understand and appreciate what is already on the ground; that is to say that they never produce something that conforms to a 'signature' style. As we are already starting to push ideas like 'incredible edible' around different sites on Chepstow Road we feel that this is a good time to work with people like Karsten and Bernd to produce proposals for the Triangle space.

KHBT at the New Paths Gathering July 2017

This blog introduces KHBT and also gives a borader understanding of where we can go with this project.

Maindee library is having a make over. Maggie and Kim need your input.

11/07/2017 | Finding Maindee, Development & Building, Library


Maindee library is having a makeover. We would really like to know your views in order to help this process.

We have attached a simple questionnaire for your consideration and would appreciate it if you return your responses to us by the 31st July 2017 

Should you wish to discuss your thoughts face to face. Volunteers at the library would be more than happy to meet with you. If you have further questions please contact Maggie and Kim. 01633 309443 or email library@maindee.org or our Facebook page www.facebook.com/maindeelibrary

Selecting Creative Practitioners for Llyfrgell Maindee Library +

18/05/2017 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Development & Building

Last week we selected the joint practice of George Lovesmith and Sarah Hollingworth to work with us on the project to develop the fabric of Maindee library building on Chepstow Road. We have put a lot of thought into the process; all the time questioning ourselves who this project is designed to support and why. This quote from George and Sarah helps understand the approach that we can expect in the period of working together which will last until spring 2018:

"This brief brought together long-standing shared interests in the co-production of whatever can be called public - an approach that aims to collectively build capacities, ownership & better buildings. Our strategy is three-fold: playful provocation, physical enabling, and an invite to collaborate."

This blog article will give a little background on the process we made for this appointment; and sets a baseline for how we hope that regular communication will lead to a successful project.

May New Paths - Focus on the Library

14/05/2017 | Finding Maindee, New Paths, Arts, Development & Building

This gathering was a chance to explore what is possible with the fabric of Maindee Library. We had the first opportunity to meet architects Sarah and George [who will be working with us until March 2018] and get some perspectives how the library space could be re-designed. The meeting was also a good chance to start exploring opportunities and also remind ourselves about what exists already that is really valuable. Specifically Sarah Goodey discussed her experience of using Maindee library as a centre for creative workshops and John Hallam also provoked us to consider the space terms of being a place for social prescribing. Standing alongside these two presentations Rob Smith was able to outline his process for recording stories and how this would contribute to the library project and an eventual artwork.

Maindee Library New Paths Gathering

This blog post is a resume of the discussions with some pointers for us all to consider as we plan the architectual and artistic work which will last until March 2018.

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