Borth's Lost Legends...
On July 22nd 2017, Layers in the Landscape (LitL) sprang an offshoot via an exhibition at Borth Station Museum. The King of the Sea Trees (KST) has stepped out of his film to take pride of place there for the summer, along with his story and various items from the project.
Many, many people have been involved in this endeavour for even a small deep mapping exhibition is a large adventure, bringing together amateurs and professionals, locals and visitors along with art, science, poetry, literature, music and film. My thanks extends to them all.
This poem tells some of the story of a spririt of place, called The King of the Sea Trees - Brenin Y Coed Mor. He is a creature who was born with the land and has seen everything that has ever happened here. From the roaming hippos to the glaciers, from The Battle of the Trees to the truth behind Cantre'r Gwaelod; he knows all of Cardigan Bay's oldest secrets.
The poem myth itself is a Macalla, an After Echo, which reflects many of the poets the KST has met across the centuries. Including (in no particular order): John Milton, Rudyard Kipling, Dafydd ap Gwilym, R.S.Thomas, Dylan Thomas, W.B.Yeats, Percy Byshe Shelley, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Walter de la Mare, William Shakespeare, Gwerful Mechain, Llywarch.Hen, Seamus Heaney, R.Williams Parry, Dewi Emrys, Saunders Lewis, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Taliesin.
Sponsored by Denis Bates, I commisioned Dafydd of Three Legg'd Mare to become the King's voice. He took the poem, studied the texts from which it catches echoes (he's a Medievalist at the National Museum of Wales) and then applied a dozen different traditional melodies to the task, tying in shanties and his own bilingual interpretations and lines of poetry.
Some of our 72 VIPs, crowding in for the speeches and shanty. With 100 visitors during the day on top of this, KST certainly began his new reign in style.
If you go to the exhibition you can hear the entire piece on a recording in the fantastic acoustics of the heritage space - 13 minutes of deep mapped sea shanty. It will also play in the link above. Together we performed it for the 72 VIPS who came to the exhibition opening, but ultimately the intention is for it to be developed further by the band.
When you go to the museum you might meet George, who (if you're very lucky) might be persauded to tell you about the night he and the KST first met, outside The Friendship one dark night...Jo might even show you some newspaper cuttings of the miraculous event.
We also have a Little Green Book, where we'd like visitors to write, draw, comment or link to a website etc with your responses, adding your own branch to the deep map.
Alternatively please use Twitter @BreninYCoedMor or Facebook @KingoftheSeaTrees.
Ros Coard is featured here she conserved the antlers, assisted with the exhibition's constuction and is keeping an eye on their welfare throughout the display period.
Martin Bates' contribution is a schematic profile of the sedimentary sequence of Borth beach. It sits next to an image of the auroch and two Macalla poems by me; one is Digging Without Heaney (after Heaney) and the other (not pictured) is Not Cantre'r Gwaelod (after Gillian Clarke).
By the Little Green Book you will find a translation of the praise poem 'Seithenhin' from the Black Book of Carmarthen, circa 1250 AD, by Diarmuid Johnson @LitL 2016.
Harvey is one of the station volunteers, he (along with Geraint Coles), made the King's throne. He also found a basalt core or scraper of possible Neolithic date, just by the beach. This is the oldest artefact we currently have from Borth. In this pic, he is speaking about it with Denis Bates, who was once his geology lecturer at Aberystwyth University.
Also in the exhibition are flyers about the submerged forest, postcards to purchase, a Thin Deep Map which attempts to acknowledge the layers covered by the short film - and the short film itself, which is playing on a loop - and is also available via the image link below.
For further information regarding the making of Litl, please go to the project page, here.
Want to get involved? Then post us your story about The King of the Sea Trees, to:
The exhibition is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11am to 4pm, and Sundays/Bank Holidays from 12noon to 4pm. Admission is free - but donations are very welcome!
*UPDATE* In the first fortnight we have had over 1,000 visitors to this tiny space, that's twice the usual footfall the museum is accustomed to experiencing in the same period during previous years. It's been a substantial mix of very local locals, locals, the regular tourists and new tourists who have come to the town specifically to see the display. You can also now buy postcards to help contribute to the upkeep of the museum and this historic station, which is not for profit, a true community creation.
As mentioned above, part of the exhibition includes a little green book in which people can join in with the deep mapping. It's more than just a place for comments, it's a gallery of responses, interpretations, new stories and inspiration. Jo has even left a smaller book by its side, for people who prefer to be less formal (she thinks of everything!).
Here is a selection of some of my favourites, from dogs to ghost trains, rainbows to visual perspectives on the display - it's a work of art in it's own right already. My thanks to all who have contributed ; keep them coming!
Thanks to Kev in the college print room for his unwavering patience in the face of our Windows/Apple design challenges (postcards, posters, banners). Ditto to UWTSD and the ISRF for funding the film; Ashley and Sarah at Y Stwdio Brint, Lampeter, for the wrap around art work (more design challenges...anyone want to buy me Photoshop and an Apple Mac?!); Harvey and Geraint for the antler mount; Dafydd and Denis for the shanty; George, Jo and their team for letting us invade their summer space and the team members of LitL 2016 who produced their share of the project for display - particularly Jake for all his additional footage/recordings and Martin for his constant support and general assistance. May the sea always be your friend.