Ancient Connections: Bedwyr Williams
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Do the Little Things is a public artwork by Bedwyr Williams designed for two locations: Ferns, Wexford and St David's Cathedral, Pembrokeshire. Commissioned by Ancient Connections, an EU-funded cross border arts, heritage and tourism project, and managed by *Consultancy, the project connects the two communities through the practice of beekeeping, reflecting the medieval story of St David and his friendship with St Aidan, who, legend has it, brought bees back to Ireland from Wales.
Three oversized skeps (traditional beekeeper’s hives) made from Canadian cedar wood have been installed in Wales, with three more in Ireland. These living sculptures contain bee colonies that are being cared for by local beekeepers and community groups, who will be harvesting and selling honey in labelled jars designed by local children and the artist.
Williams says of the work, “I’m interested in objects that invite communities to become active participants to make the artwork whole. St David’s last words were ‘Gwnewch y pethau bychain’ or ‘Do the little things.’ This ethos has guided the development of my work, which is founded on the story of St David and St Aidan and steeped in the magic and history of these two intertwined locations.”
Sited in the grounds of St David’s Cathedral, the first edition of the work opened to the public in November 2022 with a launch that brought community groups to the site with a Q&A with the artist and local beekeeper Gayle Twitchen, storytelling, and a performance of ‘The Bee Song’ by local school children led by composer Sam Howley.
“Bees have linked St David's and Ferns since the sixth century, when St David gifted a hive of bees to St Aidan to keep, after the monastery bees twice followed their favourite monk home to Ireland and had to be brought back” said the Very Revd Dr Sarah Rowland Jones, Dean of the Cathedral. “We’re delighted to welcome this striking symbol of the ties between us.”
Do The Little Things marks the beginning and end of the new pilgrim route between St David’s Cathedral and St Edan’s in Ferns - another legacy of the Ancient Connections project. Managed by The British Pilgrimage Trust, the Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way encourages low impact tourism in both regions and will open to the public in 2023. Similarly, sustainability and a respect for the environment are at the heart of the artwork, which is endorsed and supported by the local authorities of Pembrokeshire and Wexford in partnership with local organisations and community groups.