books

Sitting for Bernard

November 12, 2017 0 Comments
Sitting for Bernard

For over forty years, and with increased energy since 1990, Bernard Mitchell has been collecting people.  The people are artists and writers working in Wales, and his means of collecting them is the camera lens.  Many people have seen parts of his great project, the Wales Arts Archive, over the years.  In the 1990s the […]

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John Ystumllyn: an African in 18th century Eifionydd

August 27, 2017 7 Comments
John Ystumllyn: an African in 18th century Eifionydd

It wasn’t his real name, ‘John Ystumllyn’, but one the locals gave him. Another was ‘Jac Du’ or ‘Jack Black’. How he arrived, unwillingly, in north Wales is obscure. What is certain is that his origins were in Africa, and that he found a home for himself and his family in the Criccieth area in […]

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Reading and silence

August 20, 2017 1 Comment
Reading and silence

I’m working my way, slowly – that seems the best way – through Sara Maitland’s A book of silence, and I’ve reached the part where she discusses the paradoxical relationship between reading and silence.  On the one hand, reading the way we do it today is a silent communion between writer and reader.  Silent, on […]

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Philip Gross’s ‘Betweenland’

March 6, 2017 0 Comments
Philip Gross’s ‘Betweenland’

A while ago, I can’t now remember where, I saw a relief map of Britain as it might be a few centuries from now.  Most of England was under water, though Wales and Scotland were largely intact.  The queues at the borders, it occurred to me, will be lengthy. Many people prefer to turn their […]

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Some books I read in 2016

January 2, 2017 0 Comments
Some books I read in 2016

If last year was a desperate time in the public world, there were plenty of comforts closer to home.  As always, reading was one of them.  These days I read more than I have since I was a teenager, with the added advantage that if I find a book unreadable I’m now happy, time and life […]

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Peter Lord’s ‘The Tradition’

October 8, 2016 0 Comments
Peter Lord’s ‘The Tradition’

In front of me is a copy of The artist in Wales, the first book to attempt a full conspectus of art in Wales, past and present.  It was written in 1957 by David Bell, when he was Curator of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery.  It’s a drab volume, even taking into account the austere […]

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An archaeological nightmare

October 2, 2016 1 Comment
An archaeological nightmare

In my experience – and I confess I haven’t lifted a trowel in anger for over forty years – archaeological digs bring nothing but lasting pleasure.  For some, though, it’s obviously a different story. Quite recently a friend alerted me to the writings of Sarah Moss.  Her speciality, in fiction and in books of travel, […]

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Ymchwil fel celfyddyd peryglus: ‘Cai’ gan Eurig Salisbury

September 17, 2016 0 Comments
Ymchwil fel celfyddyd peryglus: ‘Cai’ gan Eurig Salisbury

Ei nofel gyntaf yw Cai (Gwasg Gomer, 2016) gan y bardd a’r ymchwilydd Eurig Salisbury.  Enillodd hi Fedal Rhyddiaith Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Y Fenni eleni, ond dyw’r beirniaid, na’r adolygwyr wedyn, mae’n ymddangos, yn gallu cytuno ar y rhesymau pam. Myfyriwr ôl-raddedig ym Mhrifysgol Aberystwyth yw Cai.  Mae’n cael trafferth ffindio ffordd ymlaen i’w ymchwil ym […]

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Generosity of a bookseller

September 11, 2016 2 Comments
Generosity of a bookseller

In Swansea institutions don’t get more crustily venerable than the Royal Institution of South Wales.  But people too can grow into institutions.  Jeff Towns, the first speaker in the RISW’s new season of talks, can’t deny that he too is a Swansea fixture.  True, he doesn’t go as far back as 1835, but since he […]

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Wales and whales

August 29, 2016 3 Comments
Wales and whales

Last week several very unusual sightings of long-finned pilot whales were recorded off the coast of Wales. Pilot whales rarely leave the deep sea, but cetologists think that these examples were following food – they eat squid and small fish – that have also wandered on to the continental shelf. Today whales and other sea mammals […]

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