Future Memory in Place

PRESS RELEASE - 1st October Events Swansea

Ancient history meets contemporary life through multi-platform art project in Swansea

Saturday 1 October sees the climax of a six-month project which has united visual art, migration and ancient history, and given over 2,500 school pupils in Swansea the opportunity to learn about how people relate to the place where they live or have lived, and how memories and the experience of migration can be expressed in art.

Whether you have been somewhere for days or generations, your memory and ties can be equally strong or weak. If you have travelled 10 or 1,000 miles your journey stories can be just as powerful.  Future Memory in Place is about the shared experience of all of us, here, now and in the future.

The historic port-city of Swansea is the perfect environment to explore and create alternative meanings of place with the help of thousands of school children from numerous real and imaginary backgrounds.

The three focal points in Swansea on Saturday 1 October will be:             

  • the unveiling of the collaborative sculpture Tessera Hospitalis at the National Waterfront Museum (12pm)
  • a performance in the Castle Gardens, with choir, using 1,000 Colours Blue made by participants as music score (2pm)
  • an exhibition of some 800 postcards and art at Oriel Bach, Mumbles (opens Friday 30 September with private view at 7pm)

The Future Memory in Place project was created by the Exeter University-based historian and archaeologist Dr Elena Isayev and Welsh artist Catrin Webster.  The project unites visual art and ancient history through contemporary landscape painting and research on migration in the ancient world, archaeology, manuscripts, objects, journeys, uncharted maps and music.

Dr. Elena Isayev says:  ‘The aim was to create an experimental project to explore alternative ways of understanding place - not simply as a territory - but as the sum of interactions and imagination. Catrin's ground breaking landscape paintings and drawings capture our fragmented and multi-sensory experience of place. Art, alongside ancient objects and stories would be used as the vehicle for this exploration involving children and other members of the community in Swansea.'

The result was a programme of activities that culminated in a number of artistic creations. The first is a sculpture, based on the ancient tessera hospitalis, a symbol of friendship that lasted over long distances and generations. Hundreds of mobile pieces make up this 1x6m steel monument which will be installed at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. 

The second was inspired by the landscape of Swansea, as the children collected different shades of the colour blue that will be the focus of the Castle Gardens performance. These 1,000 Colours Blue will be projected on the BBC screen in Swansea city centre, and will form the music score that will be sung by a choir. The music will be orchestrated by music director Marion Wood and the overtone singer Michael Ormiston, who translates sounds of landscape.

The third arose from the many connections of the participants with places around the world. These ongoing links are the foundation for the 800 Swansea skyline postcards that the children made, and having been sent around the UK, they have now returned to Swansea for a final exhibition at Oriel Bach.

This exploration has been carried out through workshops in schools and in community gatherings around the City of Swansea, with support from the University of Exeter, Glynn Vivian Gallery, Centre for Migration Policy Research at Swansea University, National Waterfront Museum, and Swansea Metropolitan University.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, (AHRC) through its Beyond Text Scheme and by the Arts Council Wales (ACW).

Contacts and Project Leaders: 

Elena Isayev  (, 07969 642927

Elena is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classics & Ancient History at the University of Exeter her work is based on history and archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean, and especially on ideas of place, identity, and ancient mobility. She has also done work on ancient youth, and led excavations in Italy, Wales, and Kazakhstan. She is now working on her 2nd book Mobility and Place in Ancient Italy.

                    For her full profile see:

Catrin Webster (, 07588 622381 (Welsh speaker)

Catrin Webster is a painter interested in contemporary landscape. Examples of Catrin Webster's work are held in public collections including the Arts Council of Great Britain Collection, Hayward Gallery London. She has also been featured on BBC 1 Wales: Breaking Through, & BBC 2 Wales in Pembrokeshire Painted. She is furthermore an expert in community projects which include the award winning Travel Project, that developed ideas of mobility in place within a community context.

                     For her full profile see:

Project Website:

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Notes to Editors

Project activities

Phase 1: Artist in Residence in Schools & Brunswick Centre - Refugees & Asylum Seekers - May-June 2011

  • Catrin and Elena set up art and place workshops - creating prints from postcards in the Brunswick Centre.
  • The workshops in schools were centred on Catrin's mobile van/studio which was brought into the school grounds. Activities were based around the pupils helping Catrin as she made her large scale paintings. They also drew and painted postcards of their landscape which were then sent to Elena in Exeter.
  • Additional workshops were also conducted with Over 55 Art Group at the Glynn Vivian, and the English as a Second Language programme students at Gower College.

Phase 2: Ancient History, Archaeology and Art Workshops in Schools - June 2011

  • Elena and Catrin worked in schools introducing concepts from the project using 2,500-year-old tokens of long distance friendships (tesserae hospitalis), scenes from ancient comedy, and alternative mapping through history and art.
  • Pupils made their own tesserae - which have been made into the sculpture for the National Waterfront Museum. Pupils also created journey maps, acted as investigators with original ancient artefacts, drew large scale world maps, real and imaginary, using their whole play ground as the world - considering where they and their ancestors came from, where they would like to go, and the multiple origins of footballers of Manchester City and Swansea City.

Phase 3: Art, Myth & Music Workshops in the Glynn Vivian and National Waterfront Museum - July 2011

  • Drawing on the landscape of the Swansea Marina, pupils and participants developed ideas through experimental drawing, painting, colour collection of blues, digital capture, as well as ancient mythical journeys and created adventure stories - exploring the numerous ways of visualizing, representing and connecting to place.
  • The Blues that were painted by the participants will form the 1,000 Colours Blue that will be used by the choir as a music score on 1 October, will be projected on the BBC screen in the city centre, and recorded as a music piece.
  • In addition to Elena, Catrin, the Education Officer at the Glynn Vivian, and Tom Goddard led art tours around the Glynn Vivian.
  • Part of the workshop introduced musical elements, including the quality of sound, singing colours, and making sound maps. These were orchestrated by Marion Wood and Michael Ormiston.
  • One of the activities used the Glynn Vivian Gallery's Chinese ceramics collection and local Swansea Early Modern imitations of these ceramics, to consider cultural influences and exchange, with the help of current research by Martin Pitts from the University of Exeter, which compares the ancient Roman pottery trade with the 17th century European China trade.

Phase 4: Saturday 1 October Events in Swansea: Sculpture, Performance and Exhibition

Phase 5: Ongoing activities 2011-12

  • Strong focus on future memory, rather than past memory, and the notion of mobility as the norm.
  • Proposals from the project will be made for UK government migration policy, especially concerning divided communities, integration and concepts of exclusion, in conjunction with Prof. Heaven Crawley at the Centre for Migration Policy Research, Swansea University.
  • Community meetings will be held, especially with educationalists, the police, and members of the Swansea City of Sanctuary to discuss the findings of the project and community cohesion.
  • Creation of an Education Pack for Schools based around art, archaeology, mapping and mobility activities
  • Creation of media productions, art collection, music composition, and publications, both artistic and academic.


The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC): Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes hundreds of research awards ranging from individual fellowships to major collaborative projects as well as over 1,100 studentship awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.

The Beyond Text research programme aims to support a multidisciplinary community of scholars and practitioners drawn from Higher Education, museums, galleries, libraries, business, policy, media, technology and the law to explore the ways in which communication is articulated, transmitted, received and controlled. It also aims to enhance the connections between those who make and preserve works, and those who study them.  Beyond Text centres on five thematic, interdisciplinary areas: Making and Unmaking; Performance, Improvisation and Embodied Knowledge; Technology, Innovation and Tradition; mediations; Transmission and Memory. These themes provide a framework to investigate the formation and transformations of performances, sounds, images, and objects in a wide field of social, historical and geographical contexts, tracing their reception, assimilation and adaptation across temporal and cultural boundaries. The programme has a budget of £5.5 million over 5 years and runs from 2007 to 2012.

Press contact: Dr Elena Isayev  (, 07969 642927

The following downloads are available
Text and Image of Tessera Sculpture
PDF2.27 Mb
INVITE for Swansea Events 1st October 2011
PDF950.22 Kb
INVITE for Swansea Events 1st October 2011 - Welsh
PDF874.34 Kb
Tessera Sculpture - Text and Image English an Welsh
PDF2.27 Mb
Mapping Exercises Education Pack ages 7 - 16
PDF64.92 Mb

Arts & Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,000 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute nearly a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. See Arts & Humanities Research Council website.