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16 October 2014

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Murals, Life and Me

By Alison Chaplin
September 2006, Merthyr Tydfil
A digital story from Capture Wales

Life's Mural

Friends, family, work, places and memories all takes shape in Alison's life mural.

"It's strange to think how much like a mural, my life is - coming together piece by piece.

I get my pleasure from helping others and over the years I've been a milk monitor, dinner table monitor, prefect, trade union activist, political activist and community activist as well as being a sister and a daughter.

For 22 years, I worked for a bank servicing customers' needs. But I wanted to help my community more.

So, in 2002, I left the bank and joined a housing association where I work as a community development project officer. This involves me bringing different groups and individuals together to enable residents to complete projects that are dear to them. It is important that they own the project.

For example, the Mount View Mural Project started life as an idea to create a community garden in the Mount View Community House. It morphed into a fruit garden project with children growing, picking and turning the fruit into smoothies. But when we spoke to the local residents, they wanted to do a mural with the children instead.

So a number of community organisations got together to help them achieve this goal. An artist was hired who created four different designs from pictures the children had drawn. It's a collage of all of their ideas with a map of Mount View as its central feature. The children picked the one they liked the best and this is being sketched out for them to colour in. It's a wonderful project.

I feel really lucky because not everyone gets paid for doing what they really love to do.

My life has been like a mural and one day I look forward to see the picture I have created. I hope I like it."

Alison Chaplin

Please tell us about yourself.
For the first 11 years of my life I moved from place to place as my father was in the RAF. My immediate family became my roots. Then we moved to Merthyr Tydfil, a place I love and defend vigorously. I share it's people's passion for fair play and social justice, mirrored throughout its history. Long may that continue.

What's your story about?
The importance of everyone working together to bring the different stages of a community project together. How this mirrors the different stages of my life, starting off in one direction and through various people and events, moving into another.

This is a metaphor for how I feel about life - friends, family, work, places and memories.

What did you find the most rewarding about the workshop?
Listening to the other participants' stories and the way the workshops helped bring us together in a shared experience that belongs to us alone, creating a shared bond ... and learning how to make digital stories which I hope to pass on to other residents.

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