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New artist in residence at National Wool Museum

Laura Chamberlain

Welsh poet Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch has taken up a new post as artist in residence at the National Wool Museum in Dre-fach Felindre.

Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch. Photo: Keith Morris

The artist in residence post is a result of funding awarded by the Leverhulme Trust, which makes awards for the support of research and education.

During her time in residence, Samantha will work towards her fourth collection of poetry, on the theme of textiles.

Working at the museum for three days each week, Samantha will hold free writing surgeries where individuals can gain feedback on a piece of prose or poetry they have written and help in improving writing skills and techniques. She will also hold writing workshops at the museum, again free of charge, and will guide people in creating a piece of poetry from beginning to end.

I recently paid a visit to the National Wool Museum and during my time there, in amongst being shown how the various machinery works and watching the fascinating looms in action, I met Samantha.

We talked a little about her residency and what it entailed, and earlier this week she followed up our brief chat with an email with some more details.

"I am thrilled that the Leverhulme Foundation have awarded me this residency to work with the National Wool Museum," she said.

"The residency will enable me to interview and record the voices of weavers at the National Wool Museum and in the local area around Ceredigion in order to create a sound archive that will then form the basis for my fourth collection of poems.

"As a poet I am fascinated by the use of voice in writing, both when reading other poets' work and when writing my own. The residency will give me the opportunity to explore the full spectrum of weavers' working experiences and will allow me to give voice to those whose experience of working in mills lives on only in archived diaries and letters.

"The sound archive that I am planning on creating will then be available for researchers and members of the public to consult and some of the recordings will be available on the People's Collection Wales site.

"In addition to the research and writing that I will be undertaking at the museum, I shall be running regular writing workshops for museum visitors, staff and the local community.

"I spent some years of my childhood in Lancashire against the backdrop of the mills and it was there that I first became interested in textiles.

Banjo by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch

"I now live where I was born, in New Quay, Ceredigion, near the Teifi Valley, which was once a bustling industrial centre employing hundreds of weavers and exporting its produce all over the world.

"This residency will give me the opportunity to collect orally and preserve in poetry the traditions, memories, expertise and processes associated with the weaving industry. The finished audio recordings and the collection of poems will then form a lasting memorial to the industrial history of the Teifi Valley."

While Samantha embarks on the journey towards her fourth collection, her third collection of poetry Banjo will be published by Picador in June 2012. It celebrates the centenary of Captain Scott's arrival at the South Pole in 1912.

Her second poetry collection, Not In These Shoes (2008) was shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year award in 2009.

Visit the National Wool Museum website for more information, including the dates of the writing surgeries and workshops and how to book places.

To read more about Samantha's work visit her website

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