Eisteddfod Special 3: The Maes goes green

Nathan Lewis Williams explains how a space at next year’s festival will draw on the inspiration of Iolo Morgannwg

Next year’s Eisteddfod at Llandow in the Vale of Glamorgan will see a completely new departure with the creation of a festival within the festival to celebrate everything green. It will be a Maes Gwyrdd (Green Field) where green campaigners and alternative energy pioneers will share the field with small crafts stalls, children’s activities and a solar powered music stage – the Triban, named after an ancient poetic metre local to Glamorgan.

The Triban, created by musicians and environmental campaigners in collaboration with Coed Hills rural arts and crafts centre near Cowbridge, is a solar powered music venue and cafe situated within a Moroccan Marquee. It provides a magical space for musicians, poets, and cabaret acts, and already tours alternative events such as the Workhouse festival in Powys, the Small World Spring Festival in Kent, and the Sunrise Celebration in Somerset.

At next year’s Eisteddfod we will be mounting informal concerts of Welsh folk music in the Triban throughout the week. These will draw on the input from the Triban collective, which includes technicians, musicians, artists, performers, and others who work together as a non-hierarchical and non profit organisation.

The Maes Gwyrdd team have been successful in a bid for £24,000 from the Arts Council Wales to support the Maes Gwyrdd. This will enable us to create five art installations, including an Aeolian Harp, cauldron, labyrinth and a monolith dedicated to the founder of the Eisteddfod as we know it today, Iolo Morgannwg. The Arts Council is also funding a Welsh legends and mythology storytelling tent.

As the Eisteddfod’s Chief Executive, Elfed Roberts, put it, “This will be an interesting addition to the Eisteddfod field, and an opportunity to show that the Eisteddfod is not only about singing Cerdd Dant and reciting poetry. It will also raise awareness of environmental issues and perhaps touch people’s consciences”.

The Maes Gwyrdd will also have a tent for lectures and discussion, named the e-Coleg (after the Welsh word for ecology) but with the added meaning of ‘e-College’. There will be presentations on environmental subjects and issues of sustainability – alternative technologies, permaculture and sustainable ways forward for the 21st Century – as well as historical lectures on ancient Welsh heritage.

We are aiming to produce a pioneering addition to the Eisteddfod, with an emphasis on green matters, both in our ancient Celtic and Druidic heritage, with the spirit of Iolo Morgannwg very much included in the aesthetic of the field and in our presentations at the e-coleg and through an exploration of alternative technologies, permaculture and sustainable ways forward in the 21st Century.

We hope that the Maes Gwyrdd will becme a permanent fixture at the National Eisteddfod. We hope, too, that its influence will help the Eisteddfod to become more green. In the first place we will be working with the Eisteddfod organisers and the Vale of Glamorgan Council to ensure that the festival will ensure that all its waste – and there is tons of it – is properly recycled. We also hope in the longer run to enable the whole Maes to utilise green energy.

We are exploring ways that small green organisations from throughout Wales can participate in the Maes Gwyrdd by operating in collective collaborative ways, without competing with the established rental charges for exhibitors which are essential to ensure that the Eisteddfod can pay its way.

Nathan Lewis Williams is a freelance musician, teacher, sound engineer and events organiser. The Maes Gwyrdd team are looking for support and sponsors as well as approaching people to lecture and perform on the field. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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