Singing the Line into Existence

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All Aboard – Departing Carmarthen 22nd August 2015

Sounds of old trains greeted an audience in Oriel Myrddin on Saturday 22nd August as they arrived and received their tickets to embark…The room Ticketfilled and the audience were welcomed with a song from Joanna Bond with percussion from Ceri Rhys Matthews (this version below is accompanied by the train sounds).

All aboard they listened to how Joanna became inspired by a train journey –

‘So to start I want to paint a picture … It’s July 2012, in a sleeper carriage two newlyweds are returning from 10 days honeymoon in Prague gazing out of the train window into the blur of the world and lost in train dreaming time of each others presence. Passing Germany the female an artist who up until now mainly worked in ceramics the male an aspiring politician with a poet’s heart. The artist gazes out of the window and is fascinated by futuristic train she quickly grabs her sketchbook and starts to draw.   As she draws and writes recording the atoms as they fall into her mind, railway time, train dreaming, songlines, roots, social value, Wales and a question appears…

How can you go all the way to Prague on the train and not go from Bangor to Cardiff without going through Shrewsbury?’

With a cup of tea visitors were invited to look at the exhibition layed out around the room – a selection of documents, maps, drawings, photographs and objects from the last three years research work including ceramic tiles made on a railway platform at Aberdyfi, a carriage window and a milk churn used in a performance by Joanna inspired by the Pont Llanio creamery.

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Storyteller Peter Stevenson told a few colourful stories from the line’s past and Ceri Rhys Matthews performed some wonderful songs and music from the area including ‘Trip i Aberystwyth’ a song specifically written about a journey along the line.

Jo and Ceri's musical welcome Photographs and collage Film from the railway Documents & stories

‘Our plan over the next 6 weeks is to explore the line, its cultural and physical landscape, to discover it’s stories and sing it’s songs, to engage and enthuse people along the line by placing art at the heart of a community and political campaign.   The work we develop on sites of the old line and in the studio will be blogged about as we go and will become the core of a multidisciplinary exhibition and performance event starting at 7pm in Ceredigion Museum,  Aberystwyth on October 3rd, we hope you can join us.’

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Some great News!

Hi all, great news – We got an Arts Council Award!

“Artist and member of the Traws Link Cymru committee Joanna Bond has been awarded a Grant from the Arts Council of Wales for her project Singing the Line into Existence – a creative response to reinstating the railway line between Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. It has been 3 years in development and involves a number of local artists including Ceri Rhys Matthews, Jacob Whittaker and Peter Stevenson, telling stories, singing songs and creating video and performances along the line.

The project launches at 3pm on August 22nd with a free event in Oriel Myrddin Gallery where there will be an opportunity to learn more about Joanna’s artistic vision and her research to date as well as the ongoing campaign to reopen the line through presentations from the artists and Traws Link Cymru as well as performance and exhibition.

Following the launch event the artists will begin to explore and experiment along the route of the line, learning about the histories and landscapes and creating new video, sound and performance works for the destination event at 7pm in Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth on October 3rd (£3 entry).

Mae’r artist ac aelod o bwyllgor Traws Link Cymru Joanna Bond wedi derbyn Grant gan Gyngor Celfyddydau Cymru am ei phrosiect Canu’r Llinell i mewn i Bodolaeth – ymateb creadigol i adfer y rheilffordd rhwng Caerfyrddin ac Aberystwyth. Mae wedi bod *ati am 3 blynedd yn datblygu ac yn cynnwys nifer o artistiaid lleol, gan gynnwys Ceri Rhys Matthews, Jacob Whittaker a Peter Stevenson, adrodd straeon, canu caneuon a chreu fideo a pherfformiadau ar hyd y llinell.

Rydym yn croesawu chi i ymuno â ni wrth i ni ddechrau cyfnod newydd o’r daith, i ddysgu mwy am y brosiect drwy arddangosfa a rhannu gwaith ac ymchwil a ddatblygwyd yn ystod y 3 blynedd diwethaf, gan gynnwys cyflwyniadau gan Joanna a Traws Link Cymru a pherfformiad gan Ceri Rhys Matthews.
Digwyddiad am ddim yn Oriel Myrddin Gallery Studio 15:00-16:30 22 Awst

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Knitting the Line into Existence

Artist Lisa Hellier at Colony 14 Cardigan –
‘Conversation’ is a knitted response to Joanna Bond’s project Singing the Line into Existence. My response was to support them by Knitting the Railway Line into Existence through a series of knitted conversations as if we were sitting on a train. I always knit on trains. Actually usually people are very curious to see someone doing something so personal, so tactile,
so colourful in that sterile environment, it brings some homeliness to the carriage. I like to make myself at home on trains. It takes the awkward edge off sitting so close to strangers, having something interesting to do.
The actual knitted railway line is simply inspired by rail depiction on old OS maps, the black and white line wending along the contours of the map punctated by the round red stations.
Someone sits down right opposite us on a train and there is an intimacy right there, immediately a gleaning of information and subconscious judgements are made. Sometimes nothing is said ( white or black section with pattern). Sometimes we test the water with a small comment or joke ( one line of colour – ‘one liner’). And then perhaps a conversation is struck up (and as it develops judgements we have made get left behind with the passing landscape) and we begin to see the person in colour.  Actually I enjoy making a whole story up about the person opposite me.  The colour changes as we get to know the person. We are both knitting different ends of the same line, heading in different directions but ultimately connected. As we are all connected.
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Coversations vary.  Sometimes a short passing of a piece of information (grey?) is enough, or a comment about the lansdcape/weather (dusky plum and silver?) which could lead on to a more in depth conversation about anything at all, (red and orange? or maybe mustard yellows with pink?). Humour is there (fluffy wool?) and sometimes the story is very complex (pattern, cable stitch) we learn something we didn’t know (for this I have an old book of fancy stitches). We hear the same thing again (repeat patterns) sometimes it’s not the full story (holes), sometimes when we need the person to share some information with us (a knitting lesson, or help with a stitch that we didn’t know before). People get off. (drop a stitch) people get on (add a stitch) people swap seats (cable stitch)
The whole journey is represented. Perhaps the colour or texture of the passing landscape is knitted, maybe an atmosphere is created – maybe something red catches the eye in an otherwise green scene. Metaphorically speaking the conversation may have red warning flecks in it. People knit what they are going through at the moment. This is reflected in the tension of the work.
Tension is important in knitting; there is tension when we have to sit that close to a stranger. We pay attention.
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Sometimes we can have a conversation with ourselves as we try and work something out (learn a new pattern) sometimes we need impartial advice to help us (read out the pattern to someone as they execute it)
In life we carry conversations with us on our journey through life, skills we learn are passed on through conversations – knitting itself is passed down through generations – down the line. The knitted line can be seen as a printout of our lives’  journey.
And it would also be very nice if they would reopen the line south from Aberystwyth. I’m going to keep knitting the line until I can get on that train.

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Keeping on Track

So our crowdfunding campaign has ended and unfortunately we didnt meet our goal….BIG BIG thanks to all of you who contributed, you are great and are now listed on our thanks page!

But we really believe in this project and are not giving up!

Undeterred we are applying for funding for the project

Please share our project widely and keep people talking, help connect us all through art and better, greener transport everywhere!

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News and Newspapers

TrainssignAll this weekend we hear of a growing interest in re-opening and renationalising British railways heres links to some of the stories –

Click on Wales –

BBC Wales –

The Independent –

The Guardian –

ProgressOnline –


We get a mention in this one from the Cambrian News –

Although we are in the TivySide print edition they seem to have left us off the website!


Please continue to spread the word about our project and help us raise the funds needed to Sing the Line into Existence!



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Singing the Line into Existence

Liz Whittaker

Singing the Line into Existence

Singing the Line Into Existence, is an incredibly imaginative and exciting art project in the making, set up by a group of local artists. As yet it is in the early stages and they are  seeking Crowdfunding as a way of raising money to get the whole thing done.. The group are determined to get what is really an important multi-discipline project off the ground and are doing their best to raise £8,000 to put their ideas into action.

There has been a movement for some time to see the rail line from Carmarthen to Aberystwyth re-opened, and it would have a profoundly beneficial effect on the whole of West Wales. It would be great from a green perspective, and it would re-connect places that have been virtually out of touch for years. Until people come to this area they have no idea of the vast spaces between towns and…

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A Carmarthen to Aberystwyth train waits in the down platform of Llanpumpsaint station in the 1960s. 7826 was built at Swindon works by British Railways in December 1950 to the C.B.Collett Manor design of the GWR. Named ‘Longworth Manor’, this 4-6-0 was one of a class of 30 and had a working life of less than 15 years, being withdrawn from Cardiff East Dock shed in April 1965 and cut up at Birds of Bynea (Carmarthenshire) in July of that year.
Photo from Mike Morant collection