The difference between the list and the listmaker

From conception to realisation the project has taken 18 months. I am compiling the final list of things to do before we go. I am a list maker and this is my 100th list associated with Cerbyd. I have a tried and tested system for my lists. Sections are drawn to divide each project that I have on at any one time. Each project has said amount of jobs ranging from the exciting – call Alison George Formby or the mundane complete and send press release. Each job is highlighted by its urgency.

Yellow for within a month so plenty of time

Green for next week so get going

Pink for ‘Tom, Why are you making a list? You should be doing this now?’

I know I am not alone as a list maker and this brings me considerable comfort but I believe all of us have our individual reasons and systems when making our lists.

I have made so many lists for Cerbyd that it has itself become part of my system. After a decade and more of making lists they have become the foundation and often starting point for anything that I do. They enable me to cross from one project to another with a clear understanding of the different problems and goals required by each.

I have found during this time that my lists have repeatedly become dog-eared. Although in this state they can be more aesthetically pleasing. For example, in 2005 Briaan suggested that I should exhibit my lists. Producing the opposite effect on my list making and has since meant that each completed list has been confined to the endless possibilities of recycling rather than the turgid guff of an art gallery. The fact of the matter is that dog-eared lists are useless to me. So the system took this into account and has dealt with it by refining each list after the first six items are completed and crossed off. Effectively the list lives for six items. The creation of the new list also works as a reward scheme for the completion of the first six items. Six items did not come about randomly either. I calculated that six was my average completion rate for my to-do list in the winter of 2008 and have stuck to it ever since.

And so to the list I am writing now, there are five items down and one left before I would normally start a new. In fact there are over 16 items on this list. Nothing is normal as there are two days till Cerbyd. The time has come to pick up Briaan and head to Newport Road for some last minute camping necessities.

I will not go over the many differences in opinion myself and Briaan had about the size and type of equipment we purchased but it would be fair to say we disagreed more than we agreed. In hindsight, I was right on 90% of the decisions. I am still to take back the large canister of gas that I plumped for but needless to say it is on my list of things to do. The disagreements were forgotten as broad smiles came over our faces as we lumbered increasingly more difficult to carry items across the go out doors car park and packed them into my tiny car. This would turn out to be extremely good practice for the Cerbyd trip.

Fast forward through our unloading and repacking to my back garden. Two men stand over two flaming barbeque grills, the smell of bacon wafting under their nostrils. The sun is out and I am tucking into the bacon sarnie, safe in the knowledge that today has seen 11 things ticked off the Cerbyd list with no need for an upgrade.


From the Cerbyd diaries

I am sitting at my desk at the Glynn Viv eating my lunch. Having completed another successful animation session with the drugs project. My lunch consists of pre-cooked tortellini mixed with olives, pine nuts and Parmesan. I am particularly enjoying my lunch when my mind wanders and becomes pregnant with thoughts of Cerbyd.

Cerbyd will set off in three days, I consider potential problems – arguments escalating into violence – sculptors with their beautiful hands round the throats of performance artists who throw their heads dramatically back and fore, our ominous welsh weather, car sickness even mutiny.

My thoughts return to the present as my blackberry jigs and flashes alerting me that Briaan is calling. Now Briaan doesn’t call, he sporadically sends text messages in BLOCK CAPITALS that however well meaning always make me feel as though I am being shouted at. On any other day I would be shocked to be receiving a call from Briaan but not today. Three days before the beginning of Cerbyd and Julian Barrett from the Cardiff Humanists left a message on my phone yesterday morning in response to my ‘Just checking everything is ready for Monday, Julian’ message which I left two days previous. Disappointingly Julian’s message stated that the Humanists were not going to be able to take part in Cerbyd. His reason being that their regular meeting place, The Model Inn, was closed for refurbishment.

I had left a few messages for Julian but with no response. Each of my messages asked whether the Humanists could still take part in Cerbyd if we booked another venue?

Julian hadn’t replied, the conversations were played out in a shrewd game of answer phone tennis. But Briaan was on his case or so I hoped. I answered my phone and got this:

“I’ve spoken to Julian”

“Hurrah” I say

“I told him we have the Tair Pluen booked but he has still limped out and won’t be taking part.”

“Shit” I grunt

Why had Julian done this? I had first spoken to him thirteen months back, uniquely both Briaan and I had spoken to him about the project, emails were sent back and fore. All was fine two weeks ago, I’d even joined their bloody facebook group!

“I think the Humanists are going on holiday. The last thing they want is to be hanging about explaining themselves to a bunch of artists when they could be topping up their tans in Marbella.”

I’m guessing Humanists holiday in Marbella. Briaan agreed.

The Humanists pulling out so late really rocked me. Made me think-What else can go wrong?

Briaan reminded me of the Cardiff Humanists dodgy track record. In the midst of the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten’s Muhammad cartoons scandal. The Cardiff Humanists had organised a draw Muhammad competition and their general perspective seemed to be more why not organised religion rather than why Humanism. I suppose, they are the lose canon of the groups and maybe this is a blessing in disguise.

“Time to call in the favours” I say

“We have the venue booked”

Briaan chips in “It’s a pub – let’s get them drunk. It would be a good bonding exercise.”

“Let’s give them the option to get drunk but there needs to be an activity. Look I’ll call you back mate.”

After a quick chat with Sean then Gordon, the wheels were back on. Cerbyd presents an evening of short informal talks by artists about things they’re into using the format of speed dating. Not revolutionary but hopefully nor would the Humanists have been. Eight hours later we had our speakers –

Tiff Oben and Helene Roberts on the town of Newport

Tom Porridge on break-dancing and street culture

Gordon Dalton on the considerable myth and legend of Evel Knievel

Sean Edwards on the Boss – Bruce Springsteen

And Richard Higlett on football messiah Jimmy Hill.

We should have sold tickets. No one would have bought them but still what a line up! I stay up late putting the finishing touches to the Cerbyd posters.


I thought I’d wait a while before I shared this

I am still finding it difficult to clearly describe the Cerbyd experience without something going off in my head and entirely loosing my grip on reality. Each morning as I drive to work my mind takes me on a detour North, preparing food is no longer the delightful collaborative experience it once was and at lights out I dream of my time under canvas… WHY THE HELL CAN’T EVERYDAY BE LIKE CERBYD?

It is clear to me that although my plans for the 8 days were rigorous to the point of being obsessional and possibly bordering on anally retentive. I was not prepared however, in any way for the massive hole that would appear in my life after we got off the bus. I am disappointed with myself for not being able to forsee this. I should have devised an aftercare plan that would have kicked in as soon as we all arrived home. The exhilaration of such an all consuming and intensive experience could leave the artists drained requiring emotional support and if this was not administered could lead to trauma! Well, this is certainly the experience I have been through post-Cerbyd. Thinking and questioning everything that once made me comfortable has knocked me for six. Was Cerbyd akin to doing my MA?

Everyone involved in Cerbyd made the last 18 months of administration worth it. Eight days solid with 11 artists is, I’m sure/i know, many artists idea of hell. Without sounding sentimental we were blessed with a fantastic gang that made the whole experience. The gang galvinised one another in every action – from putting up tents (which wildly varied in size), inventing and playing Creative frisbee and the simple enjoyment you can have when packed in like sardines between bags, tents, kettles, pots, pans, lentils and strangers in a bus that sometimes wound its way through small roads with a few choice U turns thrown in for good measure but always accompanied by a backing track of laughter, singing and smiles.


Being on the other side of the table in an interview situation is certainly more taxing than I ever thought or gave the position credit for. I have always imagined (pre-interview) that interviewers were half bloodthirsty ogres and half Jeremy Paxman. Or at the very least 1 part Good cop, 1 part Bad cop, 1 part Robocop and 1 part Bebop and Rocksteady, the henchmen from Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles.

In preparation for the interviews, the synergy between criteria and questions was tricky to ally and the actual barefaced interviewing of candidates quite simply terrifying.

In my attempts to keep parity throughout all interviews in everyway, I regrettably found myself descending into the realms of insanity and my self-awareness being subsumed by full-blown paranoia – ‘Was I stuttering through some of the questions?’

‘Had I rushed through questions too quickly giving an unfair advantage to one candidate over another?’

‘Did I give more water to one making them more hydrated and able to perform better?!’

The interviews were excellent despite my misgivings. I felt a whisky like warming emanating from my toes as I was filled and then refilled with a creative distillation worthy only of the Irish. The interviews took place at the always hospitable g39 a perfect venue albeit difficult to erect tents in…but we managed!

Drunk on entertaining presentations and sit up and take notice visuals, I retreated home for the first of my ‘let’s sleep on it’ sleeps. I dreamed of camping, George Formby and blue skies. I’d settle for two out of three.

After much deliberation, three days and two arduous sleeps later. As it is always best to sleep on these things! A decision was finalised. There were some regrettable omissions but justifiable ones. The trouble with such a strong shortlist is the decision will never be easy, instead your final decision is what is most comfortable and exciting. I still worry if the decisions were the right ones but only time will tell. What I do know is that I was knocked out by the standard of presentations and still, two weeks on, excited by the different possibilities each of the artists will bring to the project.

See the list of selected artists at www.cerbyd.org


Where does the time go?

The route is finalised but we currenty have a call out for artists/institutions and artist led groups to be part of Cerbyd by proposing a stop on our journey. So far we’ve had some fantastic and plain weird suggestions and we can’t wait to receive more.

The shortlisted artists have now been contacted, ready for interviews on June 14th & June 18th. 18 artists have been selected for interview. We’ve still not quite got the hang of blogging and weren’t really sure how much was healthy to pass on about the selection process. So we decided to board up the hatches and keep stum.

Interview questions are formulating and we expect them to form part of an interesting day for all. We can’t wait to see our selected artist’s presentations and these are proving to be exciting times for the project.

We’ll be back with our selections in the next two weeks and hope to be snowed under with proposals for interventions.