March New Paths Gathering & Looking Forward to April

This review of the last New Paths Gathering has taken a little longer than normal, but this is because it was even more packed than the previous two sessions with event more presentations and discussions. In brief we sampled four main presentations.

  • Rohan Bishop - Outdoor Music Making Day on Chepstow Road 12.00-17.00 Sat April 22

  • Justin Cliffe introduces the work of Tin Shed Theatre

  • Data Collector Stuart Farnsworth pitches to carry out his hyper-local research work

  • Robin Bobby explains his passion behind the MAP Project

We also had a few pitches for different events and ideas, including Rhian Hutchings for the Express Yourself event on March 25, Bernardo Kerr with the idea for a Maindee cinema club project centred around The Neon and Robert Muza (below) for bringing Africa Day to Rodney Parade in Maindee on Bank Holiday Monday May 29.

Robert Muza


Before you read further we invite you to the next gathering on Wednesday 12 April at 5.30pm. This time Stuart will give us a fuller presentation on ‘big data’ and what to do with it and we also have Eugene Dubens explaining his approach to researching arts and local cultures.

1. Rohan Bishop: Sounds Alive

Rohan has been running weekly Wednesday evening music tuition sessions in the library since autumn 2016 under the name of Sounds Alive. Rohan’s approach has always been to guide and facilitate rather than control. Part of his technique includes using popular samples of music which people can slow down, speed up and eventually overlay with their own sounds. He played us a short sample.

Some of the Sounds Alive tracks can be sampled here and on Instagram Now that the weather has got better - and the group gained confidence - they will be taking the sounds outside on Saturday April 22 from midday to 5pm. They want to mark up areas near the library on Chepstow Road which may have good sonic qualities and then play. All are invited to come along and have a go...

To help future collaborations Rohan has offered to put some of basic building blocks of music online. From this month Rohan will be moving his evening music sessions to a Tuesday evening between 6pm and 8pm.

2. Justin Cliffe: Tin Shed Theatre

Justin and Tin Shed recently performed a fundraising event for Mind at Horton’s Coffee Shop on the Maindee side of the Usk pedestrian bridge. Tin Shed were set up in Newport a few years ago and collaborate with visual artists, local businesses and many others. Justin explained the core of Tin Shed as:

  1. Performance in theatres, disused buildings and even out of the back of a taxi

  2. Education in schools in Newport, Cardiff and further afield.

  3. Events, such as one-off and pop-up happenings

Justin explained that Tin Shed want to engage with those who wouldn’t usually get involved in theatre: they sometimes take on things which might seem complicated and maybe impossible, but they trust the process.

A good recent example was a project called AGE:Less where they worked with two groups of Newport residents [one older and one younger] to run sessions from the Barnabus Arts House over a Saturday and Sunday. The work aimed to bring together stories from these two groups and it was very successful. There were many parallels in terms of how people have travelled to Newport at different points in their lives and how people have (and continue to) confront their fears.

3. Stuart Farnsworth: Nonsensus

Stuart Farnsworth presented himself to us as a suitably well-attired man in search of knowledge. He explained his proposal to conduct a 2,000 home door-step survey in Maindee in pursuit of subjective truth. Stuart would like to gather data from the local community and then work with 5 selected artists to interpret his findings. He is very keen to present his work locally so that people can see themselves in the data.

Ismael Velasco asked what type of questions that he wants to ask include: he replied ‘what is your most treasured possession?’

Angela Lloyd asked how many questions: he replied a maximum of 3.

Stuart explained that he does not have a vision for the eventual art work; more that he wants to go out with a clipboard and a badge to collect stories and ideas that can be used in other ways - such as through the 5 other artists. The work could also find its place within the Maindee Legend opera preparations and the library working become a resource for local knowledge.

Stuart Farnsworth

Sometimes it was interesting to ask ourselves where artist Steve Jones stopped and the persona of Stuart Farnsworth (above) started. For example, it was probably Steve who asked us how much we are willing to swallow: pointing at the Donald Trump situation in America and the stories of people in the past who agitated for change. Could Steve play on the idea of Stuart being an ex-employee of the Statistics Office in Newport? It was clear that having something of a character [Stuart Farnsworth] would be a useful approach as Steve's work certainly challenges received wisdom.


Robert Muza argued that some people may not get this approach; and that people from minority groups may find lots of questions to be unsettling...

Marega Palser asked if he would introduce himself as an artist straight away...

John Hallam asked if he would limit himself to just 3 questions...

Ismael Velasco wondered whether he would need any assistants in his work...


Fez finished off Stuart’s session by saying that people sometimes give away power when they impart knowledge and that Steve should consider such factors. As can be seen abover, there were lots of questions that we hope prepared Steve for his future adventure at Stuart.

We are pleased to say that Steve has subsequently been awarded a New Paths grant and that he will be presenting his approach to the next gathering at 5.30pm on April 12th.

4. Robin Bobby: Mamhilad Art Project (MAP)

Robin Bobby came to the library to present the case for a centre for science and the visual arts at Mamhilad - on the road north from Pontypool towards Abergavenny. He argues that we should try to save this building - the first modernist structure in Wales - from destruction. A longer article about MAP can be found on our website.

What Robin articulated through the story of the British Nylon factory was the crossover between science and the arts. We learned that the Courtauld company had been one of the founders of the British Nylon company in Mamhilad; and though the name of Courtauld is no longer known in the world of commerce it lasts on through the famous gallery in London. We found a similar link between the arts and science when we visited the Wellcome Collection in London last year.

British Nylon Spinners

Robert Smith will be showing his photographic exhibition about the people who worked at Nylon as part of Diffusion ‘17 festival this May in Cardiff 


Our next meeting: 5.30pm Wednesday April 12

We will be spending some time in the company of Stuart Farnsworth as he starts his New Paths project on hyper local data collection. Stuart will be joined by a proper researcher Eugene Dubens who is doing a PhD specifically about the Arts Council of Wales IPP programme that is funding our work. We also hope that we will have somebody to present from our sister project Arts & Minds in Blaenau Gwent.

Why collecting stories (and other forms of data) is important to us?

We would not be running this project today if people like Gareth and Marega from Mr & Mrs Clark had not helped us gather stories about Maindee. Since then New Paths artists have taken very different approaches to data collection and this is where we arrive at Steve reincarnated as Stuart Farnsworth.

We have some great records and stories on our blog and through our Instagram page which we fully intend to develop further.

Working with Wavehill

As artists and supporters involved in our project we hope you can help the evaluation exercise conducted by Endaf at Wavehill. The document that they prepared can be viewed by clicking here. If you are willing to be interviewed over the phone or answer questions by email then please let Aled or Fez know. Otherwise, please contact him on or call 01545 571711.

Stuart Farnsworth needs you!

We hope that the meeting on April 12th will be a great way to take a wide approach to research and evaluation. Please invite other people and also share the Facebook listing here

Related Links

Sounds Alive Outdoor Music Making Day Sat 22 April 

Find out more about Tin Shed Theatre

Story behind the MAP Project

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