In 2018 Wrexham-based artist Paul Eastwood received an a-n Artist Bursary to fund work with Celtic language specialists at Bangor University. With their help he developed his hybrid language project, Dyfodiaith, compiling audio and video work that was exhibited at Chapter in Cardiff earlier this year.
With Welsh being a prominent language in Eastwood’s upbringing and current life, he utilises its Celtic origin, which derives from an original Brythonic vernacular, to produce new scripts and work with voice actors and composers.
He is not, however, entrenched in history. Instead, Dyfodiaith is an investigation that looks into the future of cultures that might visualise, punctuate, speak and sing using the new hybrid form.
Eastwood sets out his research in the blog Dyfodiaith – Tafod Dadweirlled, which explains more about the audio work produced for his exhibition at Chapter. Further aspects, including other past work fuelling current concerns in his practice, are featured this month on a-n’s Instagram feed.
How did you develop an interest in working with the Welsh language, and with linguistic research into Brythonic?
I have always seen my work sitting closely to invention, and have never seen myself as comfortable with ‘art speak’ tropes and vernacular trends. I was searching for something I could push against, pull apart, manipulate and call my own. I wanted to try and find my own voice; something that resonated with my life experiences and dealt with who I am, or even who I might be.
By working in Welsh, and hybrid future-Brythonic, I can explore notions of otherness. Being educated in Welsh, and since experiencing a distance from it within further education, I can question, reflect and explore how it can inform a different world view.
What did you use your a-n Artist Bursary for?
I was keen to develop further collaborations and bring different specialist backgrounds together. After securing the funding from a-n, I was able to approach the Welsh department at Bangor University with the aim of them helping me find someone who specialised in linguistics. I worked with Llŷr Titus, a PhD student in Bangor with interests in drama and Celtic languages. Working with him enabled me to strategise how to create a way of writing in a speculative, or hybrid language. Ideas were built naturally, from our conversations and collaboration.
A considerable amount of time was spent reading and researching at Bangor University’s library and The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. Once Llŷr and I had completed a rough draft for Dyfodiaith: Tafod Dadweirlled, we started approaching voice actors to perform the script and ended up working with Wyn Bowen Harries.
What prompted you to begin visualising the languages you were researching for the video work Dyfodiaith: Iaith Bwystnon?
First and foremost I wanted to have ownership on this elusive language; shine some light on it and dust away any misconceptions and stereotypes. During searches for etymological links between the Celtic languages I became especially intrigued by alternative spellings as a means to explore different pronunciations. By understanding the construction of the language, I was able to then construct new words.
How are languages of Celtic origin, such as Welsh, used to preserve cultures, and are they used to promote discussion around contemporary cultural production?
Do these platforms even exist outside of, say, a university, school or home setting in Wales? I don’t think they do, at least not for me. There is a trend in Wales to turn to the dominant language of English. So, there are very few places that talk about art production and visual culture in the Welsh language.
I feel there is an inherent danger when there aren’t public spaces or social platforms to engage with the visual arts in a certain language; you only get certain perspectives.
Can you tell us about your plans for the XVITH International Convention of Celtic Studies in Bangor, and why you got involved?
I was approached by Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre in Bangor about the possibilities of showing Dyfodiaith: Iaith Bwystnon. From initial conversations, they were interested in showing the work in their cinema. They also suggested to show the work at the same time at the XVITH International Convention of Celtic Studies [22-26 July 2019]. I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to share the work with new audiences.
How do you think we will be communicating in the future?
My concerns are less about how we might communicate in the future and more about the dangers we might face along the way, especially the loss of language. Do collectives speak in unison and what happens when lone voices aren’t heard? I think it is more important to explore subcultures within marginalised communities, and how to create spaces for these voices to be promoted.
Paul Eastwood is this week’s featured a-n blogger at www.instagram.com/anartistsinfo.
Follow the Dyfodiaith – Tafod Dadweirlled blog here
From 3 May – 13 July 2019 Eastwood will be showing work in the group exhibition ‘Rumblestrip’ at g39, Cardiff
1. Paul Eastwood, Dyfodiaith : Iaith Bwystnon, 2019, still from HD Video, 00:22:30
2. Paul Eastwood, Dyfodiaith : Iaith Bwystnon, 2019, still from HD Video, 00:22:30
3. Paul Eastwood, In ois oisou, 2018, mono rubbing on paper, 29.7 x 42cm
4. Paul Eastwood, Tuag at Segrgair | Towards a Beautiful Relic, 2017, neon, 120cm x 45cm x 12cm
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