I take the bus from Carmarthen to Bala (where I’d just completed the documentary Trysor Sir Gar / Carmarthenshire Treasure for Joio ) and begin the process of putting TIr Sir Gar and its many splinter projects to bed . I had dreaded the journey as it was a ‘ normal’ bus , a bit like taking the one from Canton to Fairwater but for an extra 3 and a half hours, luckily I soon found sonic solace in James Blake’s wonderful Overgrown on my tweed headphones. Thanks Steve !
En route , the golden waves of the superabundant gorse conjures up Barmouth and ‘For Mountain, Sand and Sea’ reminding me of the purpose of the trip, to restart the PATAGONIA 150 research and hopefully locate a suitable site to stage the work in North Wales .
We had decided to base ourselves in Bala, as after all Michael D Jones the architect
behind the mini exodus hailed from these parts. I’d never really been before, it’s a stunning location but Sian isn’t convinced that it’s the right place….I put my judgement on hold.
I begin the day with a mini jog, well more of a jiggle (that’s too many dinners in Llandudno’s Osbourne House for you) around the lake, it’s surface is pure mirror and I attempt to get my head together, put Tir Sir Gar behind, LLAWN01 to one side and shift focus back on to PATAGONIA150.
In the light of day ( which is glorious sunshine) I too am now unconvinced that Bala is the right location, it’s difficult to get to, very popular with die hard, out-door types which begs the question as to how a large scale piece of site specific theatre would go down.
So we decide to open up our search and head to Corwen, the terrain reminds us both of Cwm Hyfryd in the Andes but in a much smaller scale, like the landscape of a model railway. On cue we see an actual steam train puff along the valley towards us, so we divert to Carreg Railway station, Its a resplendent site as the pristine locomotive pulls up, we discover that the station was built in 1865, the same year that they left for PATAGONIA. Perhaps it was the the threat of the railway, the ‘negative’ effect of the encroaching industrial revolution that motivated them to leave, that triggered the desire to transport and transplant their religion, tradition and attempt to preserve it 8000 miles away from home, in the wilds and desolate plains of Patagonia?
Upon approaching Corwen I see an amazing corrugated iron shed, not too dissimilar to the Galpon in Gaiman back in Patagonia …it seems perfect but there’s aggressive fencing all around it and a big demolition sign….we seek a local and quiz its history and fate …the Corwen Pavillion is 100 yeas old and came from LIverpool ……relocated by the community for cultural events
( mainly the towns eisteddfod but then for wrestling and boxing matches ) then handed over to the Denbigh County Council who now want rid of it due to health and safety, asbestos and other such nasties are coming out of hiding and gorging on the buildings innards.
We go to the local library and remarkably they hand over the minutes from the numerous council meetings that relate to the Pavilion’s fate. It becomes evident that its a very contentious issue, basically the towns folk want to restore it and the council want it erased.
It was built by a Taliesyn Rees from Liverpool and part constructed in Rhosllanechrigog, from wood and clad in my beloved corrugated zinc…. sadly the space as a potential venue is not to be…such a shame….what a building…what a history!
Next stop Llangollen, home to the International Music Eisteddfod, the last time I visited it was in the dead of winter and empty but this time its bustling with life, the steam railway to Corwen begins here and there’s even a Taxidermy shop !!!!! Well, you never know, perhaps he could stuff a few Guanacos ? We’d arranged a meeting to look at the Royal Pavilion, purpose built to hold the annual International Eisteddfod every July, it’s a massive permanent tent like structure with moveable seating. The great thing is that it has the infrastructure to hold large scale events , easily cope with a large audience and the road/rail links to the town are excellent …very intriguing and we could widen the engagement of local communities much further…surprisingly I can imagine staging the show here……and PATAGONIA150 at the Royal Pavilion, Llangollen has a nice ring to it!