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.


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. 

Preparing to Re-inhabit Maindee Library

25/05/2018 | Arts, Development & Building, Community, Library

Many people have found a home at Maindee Library and have missed the space during its closure. Thankfully the contractors So Exclusive will take away their tools at the start of June and the community will begin to re-inhabit Maindee Library. This blog article gives an idea of the changes that we can expect to see - such as fluted glass in the image below - and how the personal touches to this community building will be made over the summer.

Starting in June we have a range of art and design workshops - from product to interiors and mosaics - as we add personality to the space. Between 10am and 12 midday on Saturday June 2nd product designer David Henshall introduces the work to customise the library shelving system; 3pm-5pm on Monday 11 June architect George Lovesmith helps us plan flooring and fittings and on Wednesday 13 June artist Stephanie Roberts starts her library residency.

In this blog article we give you a guided tour of the spaces in the building. We connect these spaces with the opportunities to add what our art projects have found in Maindee!

Investing in Maindee Library’s Shelving

18/05/2018 | Arts, Development & Building, Learning, Library

We are about to make a series of investments in the fixtures and fittings in the main reading room at Maindee Library. As a place which holds a collection of books we are pleased that the first things to happen is an improvement to the shelves!

As with the spirit of the work done to the building so far, we are looking to create some new and functional from what is there already: we are going to ‘hack’ the current system with an elegant design - see image above - inspired by a group of Cardiff University Architecture Students. This blog explains the process of working with the student group and what happens next.

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.


First Meeting of Maindee Makerspace

13/02/2018 | Arts, Learning, Opinions

David Henshall hosted the first meeting of the Maindee Makerspace on Monday 12th February. This short blog tells a little about the 5 presentations to the group, including the news from Jason Reilly that 3D printing is actually pretty affordable and the message from Marion Webber that people can get into making from very different angles.

Maindee Makerspace Feb 2018

The blog finishes by explaining what the organisers hope will happen next, including a meeting on Monday 12th March and some ideas for a focus for making things!


09/02/2018 | New Paths, Arts


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.


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.

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.

Final New Paths Grant Awarded

26/10/2017 | New Paths, Arts, Community

Last week Maindee Unlimited made the final award from the New Paths Fund. Community House Eton Road will be running a project to create a mural which represents the diverse group of cultures who live - and have lived - in the Maindee area.

The project idea was devised by Brian Selby [pictured below sitting at the table] and comes at the right time as it taps into the stories which have been uncovered by the 1,000 Voices project. 


Marilyn Priday [pictured above second from left] said that: "Community House is delighted and grateful to have the last grant from Maindee New Paths."

This blog article gives some information about this latest project and gives some background on what has happened through New Paths since it was set up in 2015.

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.


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.


10/07/2017 | New Paths, Arts, Community, Library



How Maindee's Community will shape Art & Architecture in the Library

10/07/2017 | New Paths, Arts, Development & Building, Community, Library

We are starting to plan how the Maindee community will shape the artistic and architectural changes which support the refurbishment and re-alignment of the library building.
Over July 2017 library volunteers Maggie and Kim will be leading the conversation where we find out what people want from the space. From August we will start working more closely with artists and makers to try out practical and creative ideas. By the end of summer the pratical and creative should start to come together and the first set of changes should start to appear.
Start of timeline
For a recap on architects Sarah Hollingworth and George Lovesmith and their approach to 'playful provocations', 'invitations to collaborate' and 'practical infrastructure' [as pictured above] please read this blog article from earlier in the summer.
Please read on to find out about the approach that we plan to take and how to get involved.

Celebrating the Healing Words Project in Maindee

17/06/2017 | Arts, Community, Library

On Tuesday 13th June we had a powerful and enjoyable evening which concluded the Gwent Arts in Health creative writing sessions held at Llyfrgell Maindee Library during May 2017: the Healing Words project.

The session was introduced by Mike Church and was a chance for members of the writing group to read out some of their own work. We also heard from other Newport poets and were able to connect with other people in south Wales doing pioneering work with community building.

Healing Words Maindee Library June 2017

We are grateful to Sarah Goodey from Gwent Arts in Health for managing this work in the library and also for sourcing the funding and other support from the Gwanwyn FestivalLiterature Wales and Newport Live. This blog article provides some reflections on the evening.

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.

New Paths 4th Gathering: Evaluating the Arts

18/04/2017 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Learning

This article centres on the task of evaluating and researching the work that is done through art projects such as this that we are developing through Finding Maindee. Sympathy is already felt for the role of evaluator as we write this blog and try to capture ambitious and challenging presentations; and the reactions from a group of people who attend this monthly discussion space.

Our main speaker was Eugene Dubens discussing how to evaluate the arts and culture. Eugene is pursuing a PhD about the Arts Council of Wales’ Ideas: People: Places  (IPP) programme which financially supports our Finding Maindee project as well as 6 others. We also heard from Steph Roberts with reflections on her 2016 Mosaic Maindee project and the future work of Steve Jones (AKA Stuart Farnsworth) as he starts the Nonsensus survey of 2,000 households.

By the end of this article it is possible to perhaps see that the question we are really asking is how to go about the task of Finding Maindee; that’s to say how are the artists we work using their practice as a process of gathering data about people in the place of Maindee?

Countdown to Creative Practitioner Project

07/04/2017 | Finding Maindee, Arts, Development & Building

There are just over two weeks left until the Sunday 23 April deadline to apply for the Creative Practitioner role advertised through Addo. This is the single biggest activity within the Finding Maindee Project and one that it both scary and exciting.

 Setting on Chepstow Road

It is two months since we got people together in the library to consider priorities - blog article here.This short article re-affirms who we are doing this project for.

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