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Abertawe

Abertawe (Swansea), janvier 2019, canon, Sylvie Ge

Il fait bon de passer quelques jours dans une ville qui proclame que l’on a besoin de la poésie. Abertawe (Swansea), le lieu de naissance de Dylan Thomas (oui, lui, encore une fois), dont il a dit qu’elle était  « a pretty ugly town » (un jeu de mots difficile à traduire en français, puisque « pretty » a le sens de « jolie » et de « assez », donc « assez laide » ou « jolie laide »), qui traduit admirablement bien ce que l’on ressent à Abertawe. La ville a été reconstruite en hâte après avoir été rasée pendant la seconde guerre mondiale, et cela se sent un peu partout. On peut tout de même avoir une idée de ce qu’elle a été grâce à quelques bâtiments et la trace indéniable de Dylan Thomas, qui y est né, et référencé un peu partout dans la ville : le Centre Dylan Thomas, le théâtre, les citations, etc., lui confère un charme indéniable, du moins à mes yeux. C’est sans compter la marina, le bord de mer et Mumbles, au début de ce que l’on appelle les Gowers, une série de baies, plus magnifiques les unes que les autres. Et une ville qui ne craint pas d’affirmer que le monde a besoin de poésie me fera toujours sentir la bienvenue.

Banksy and Port-Talbot

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I got to know Banksy, unknowingly, behind the Nelson supermarket a few years ago in Nelson. I had talked about it at the time, on the blog, without knowing that it was the big star of the street arts. I learned it last year, a little by chance, seeing circulating on the canvas, his mural, Trolley hunters. The artist from Bristol lives incognito and is inspired by the French, Blek the rat, considered as one of the pioneers of the street arts. I have been working since, because I was absolutely fascinated by Nelson’s mural (a copy, of course). What was my surprise and joy when I learned, during my stay at Tenby, that he was responsible for the mural that mysteriously appeared on the walls of a garage in Port Talbot (near Swansea). We intended to spend a few days in Swansea before returning to Nelson, which would give me the unique opportunity to see one of his original works with my own eyes. I was immediately amazed at the subtlety of her work. In fact, we first see, on one of the walls of the garage, a little boy who seems marveled in the dark night where small white flakes fall. When we look at the other wall, we realize that the blackness and the white flakes come from a cloud of pollution caused by the chimneys making steel (we see also the chimney in the distance, behind the garage ).

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Port Talbot is an industrial city that has been the center of steelmaking in Wales for many years, but has been suffering from Chinese competition for some years. In fact, the workers had to resign themselves to accepting retirement pensions that were much less generous than those promised to them. Banksy’s genius lies in the choice of location, while the effects of industrialization on the regional populations are seen from the economic point of view as well as from the point of view of physical and psychological health.

Trouble, however, did not take long to appear in the small town of Port Talbot. It was quickly feared that the mural was damaged and had to protect the mural vandals (thanks to the generosity of the actor / activist Michael Sheen) with a glass panel, a fence and a security guard.

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The garage owner quickly felt overwhelmed and made the decision to sell his garage. An art dealer from Essex bought the work and he committed to keep the mural / garage in Port-Talbot, which will be exposed soon in a mall (!). I have a lot of sympathy for the owner of the garage and I easily understand his dismay, but I can not help wondering about what will happen to this work beyond three years (why not five, or twenty-five, or a hundred, or in perpetuity?), as well as on the merits of the exhibition of a work that makes sense in the place where it was first conceived in a shopping center.

I almost did not see this work, which could have been moved before my visit, but I arrived there. To get there, you have to take the train from Swansea to Port Talbot, which is not, but really not, a tourist destination. There was hardly anyone on the train. On arrival, we must find the garage / wall asking right and left, walk a good twenty minutes in the city, where we see on the one hand the effects of industrialization and pollution on Port -Talbot, as well as the effects of the collapse of the steel industry on the population. The garage is located near a highway, at the end of a small street. Although I had to look at the mural behind the fence and the glass, I was extremely moved by this experience. In return, I could see the clouds of pollution in the distance, which can not leave indifferent.

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Moreover, for those interested, Banksy himself has put a little video that shows much better what is on his Instagram account to present his latest son. This visit to Port-Talbot closed my adventures this year on a very strong moment, which I’m not about to forget.

Dylan Thomas’s country

_mg_2908_1-2A stay in Tenby seems incomplete if it does not include a visit (a pilgrimage might be a fairer term) to the country of Dylan Thomas, Laugharne, where he lived and wrote for a significant part of his life. Everything contributes in Thomas’s magic, the winding road leading to it, the peninsula, the Norman castle, the house where Dylan lived, the little boathouse where Thomas wrote (photo), or the pub where he spent perhaps a little too much time. This time, I wanted to visit him at the cemetery (where he is buried near his wife Caitlin), his grave marked with a simple white wooden cross (I expected nothing less from him). I am reassured to see that it still has a beautiful view of the hills. I then return to the boat shelter, which I had not been able to photograph last time because of the reflections. The visit of course must end at the pub with friends, where everything recalls his presence. I guess in the summer the place is invaded by visitors, but today it’s only us and a few local. A truly perfect and inspiring day.

Au pays de Dylan Thomas

_mg_2908_1-2Un séjour à Tenby semble incomplet s’il n’inclut pas une visite (un pèlerinage serait peut-être un terme plus juste) au pays de  Dylan Thomas, Laugharne, où il  a vécu et écrit pendant une bonne partie de sa vie. Tout participe à la magie de Thomas, de la route en lacets y menant, la péninsule, le château normand, la maison où Dylan vécut, le petit abri à bateau où Thomas écrivait (photo), jusqu’au pub où il passa peut-être un peu trop de temps. Cette fois-ci, je tenais plus particulièrement á lui rendre visite au cimetière (où il est enterré auprès de sa femme Caitlin), sa tombe marquée d’une simple croix de bois blanche (je n’attendais rien de moins de lui). Je suis rassurée de voir qu’il a toujours une belle vue sur les collines. Je retourne ensuite à l’abri à bateau, que je n’étais pas arrivée à photographier lors de ma visite précédente, en raison des reflets. La visite bien sûr  se doit de se terminer au pub Brown avec des amis, où tout rappelle sa présence. Je suppose que l’été l’endroit est envahi par les visiteurs, mais aujourd’hui, il n’y a que nous et quelques gens de l’endroit. Une journée parfaite et inspirante.

I like it

Tenby, North Beach,  December 2018, canon, Sylvie Ge

I wanted  this post to be entitled  « 50 shades of gray », but I resisted the temptation, although that’s what I said to myself when I saw this sky. Who said that gray is sad? I like this intense landscape that leaves no room to think about anything else. A kind of visual meditation,  a  mindfulness exercise  without the effort (my kind of thing). I only have to watch.
The other day, it was the wind that had the same effect. The waves crashed furiously against the stone walls, the wind blew with a force that I had never seen before, so strong that it took up all the space. I even had to hang on to a fence at a certain moment, because I was afraid I would be blown away, but I could not resist  admiring the sight of the  crashing waves. I returned from my journey, elated,  my head full of thoughts and fresh air.