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Nurturing the Spirit: Yr Aelwyd

credit: in partnership with Rhian Thomas

“In front of the fire
With you, the folk song
Of the mind in the chimney and the sparks
Embroidery of the soot- eternity
Is here in this small room…”

RS Thomas, ‘The Hearth’

Nurturing the Spirit was a collaborative residency at Ruthin Craft Centre funded by Arts Council Wales that brought together the Osamu Ishiyama Laboratory, Tokyo; Smout Allen of the Bartlett, UCL; and Matthew Jones and Rhian Thomas.
Our installation aimed to explore the hearth in Welsh and Japanese culture. Print based explorations of traditional hearths in Welsh vernacular houses revealed common elements: Settle- a seat; Pentanfean- the fireback stone; Y Fainc- a stone for a water vessel; and Niche. Similarly, elements were drawn from Japanese examples: Ro- the sunken hearth; tatami- the floor mat; and rules of geometry and proportion. These elements were abstracted into an artwork using cast and stacked paper, framing the vernacular elements in a new light and becoming re-inventions of tradition.