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Brushes with Time

By Ken Guy
November 2006, Llandysul
A digital story from Capture Wales

Lifetime Holiday

A theatre set designer swaps a home in the big city for a lifetime holiday in Wales.

"I was bread and buttered in Urmston, Lancashire and the only time I visited the countryside as a boy was to go with my mum and dad at weekends in our old Ford Anglia.

Mum drove on 'L' plates for 11 years. So when I could drive and decided to come to Wales for good I couldn't get over the feeling that it wasn't permanent ... and at the end of the week we - my wife and I - should be packing our bags and going back to the big city.

I'd loved my job painting stage sets for London's Festival Ballet. I now lived in an old cottage in Banc-y-Ffordd near Llandysul and had given up on the idea of ever working in the theatre again.

But the feeling that the holiday would be soon over persisted. I had to record everything that I saw. So I started taking mental photographs - spiders on the window; thrushes cracking snail shells on the milk stand; the way the cottages seemed to snuggle into the folds of the hills; sunlight slanting down between the beach trees.

This lasted for two years. Then things started to fall into place. A phonecall led me to a job in the brand new Theatr Felin Fach and I decided I could be on holiday for the rest of my life.

The other day I was talking to a lovely old lady in Llandysul. She asked me how long I'd lived in Wales. 'Oh, about 30 years' I replied. 'And do you think you'll like it?' she said.

'Yes, I think I will, given time.'"

Ken Guy


Please tell us a little about yourself.
I worked for Theatr Felinfach, near Lampeter for three years, then went freelance. Made furniture for a pub in Tal Sarn. Then a call came from Newcastle-on-Tyne asking me to paint scenery for a big Panto, featuring David Jason as Buttons - so long ago, we both had hair. Two more pantos followed and the money helped to build a studio of my own. At 1000 ft. above sea level it must be the highest scenic studio in Wales.

What's your story about?
The story is about how a jobbing artist came from England and ended up living up a Welsh Alp. This story is in answer to my most asked question: "What brought you to Wales?" I hated to think that people saw me as a holiday maker. Just here for the summer, then going back to a mansion in London.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
The rewards of the workshop were many (the food was yummy). I found the computer programmes very user friendly - only use mine at home to draw stage sets on. Lots of fun, hard work and dedication. Oh, and the food was yummy.

Your comments

"What a truly beautiful story! Thank you Ken, great to hear your voice on the other side of the world." Alex Hubert, Queenstown, New Zealand.

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