Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Catch the magic

P1070369In Pembrokeshire (again), I’m starting to prepare some workshops for Pembrokeshire National Parks. They’ll be training sessions for wardens, rangers and volunteers. But more of that anon. This week’s unmissable experience was another kind of storytelling – an art installation in Narberth.

Place of magic

Narberth – or Arberth in Welsh – is a crucial place in the Mabinogion, the epic cycle of medieval Welsh stories.  It’s where the stories and their magic begin. Today, Narberth is a dynamic little town where many varied artistic events take place – including oral storytelling. But the installation I went to see is an unique work of storytelling of another kind –  in painting, carving, words, animation and film.


Sarah and Tim Williams are the makers. Sarah is becoming well-known throughout Wales as an artist. I’ve known her since she was born and value her work very highly. Tim is an enormously skilled craftsman in wood and also a musician. Tim and Sarah got married a few years ago and Tim recently persuaded Sarah to sing with him on one of his albums, thus revealing that she also has a fine voice.

Together, Sarah and Tim have created an extraordinary, gallery-filling piece about their Pembrokeshire world. Sarah’s place of upbringing is in the north of the county, Tim’s in the south. Their new work brings both parts together in a circular installation which you enter to view. (Tim used a portable swimming pool as its basis).

The installation

P1070366Painted round the inside of the installation is so much – the wild sea, the fields, a lighthouse, trees, houses, churches. Represented in 3D metal is one of the huge chemicals-related plants that went up in South Pembrokeshire some years ago on what used to be farms. All this unfolds before you as you look round the circular tableau. A host of shaped carvings – a tractor, two boys, a motor car, birds – create a second dimension in front of the painting while placed on the painting itself are moveable pieces such as the doleful-looking owl that can travel up and down along the branch of the tree where he sits.

To the distinctive and loveable world they’ve created, Sarah and Tim have given a title which evokes something else very special about it. In a way the piece is about something most ordinary – the specialness of the world around us that we can all too easily take for granted. The title, Un Funud Fach (one small moment) is taken from a widely-known poem by the much-loved Welsh poet, Waldo Williams. In the poem, the poet seizes that minute – the moment before the sun leaves the sky and the late light comes into its own – to remember all the unremembered things of the family of man. Tim and Sarah’s piece is likewise about the ordinary things that compose the specialness of the world around us that can all too easily be forgotten or taken for granted.

Dal dy Dir

That’s not all. In another room near the circular tableau is the animated film that’s another part of Sarah and Tim’s installation. Here we not only see, we also hear voices. They are the voices of local people, several of whom I know very well, saying things about their lives in their Pembrokeshire world. The film is inventive and funny, clever and lovely, and I feel particularly moved by it because I am a part of it too.  Sarah and Tim recorded me reading a poem which Tim composed that you hear at the beginning and end of the film. The last line of the poem is in Welsh and has a very strong meaning. 

P1070368Dal dy dir, that last line,, means Hold your land. Hold on to your land. It’s a clarion call to all of us who love this land of Pembrokeshire, all of us who value its rural beauty,  its people and its past.

But I think what’s special about the message is that it is also transportable to every countryside wherever it is. Whether in Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland or any other country in the world, we have to hold on to what we value.

That’s why I wish everyone who appreciates the ‘ordinary’ life  and the beauty of the places where they live could see this very special exhibition. It’s on for another week. Catch it if you possibly can.

Un Funud Fach by Sarah and Tim Williams is on at the Queen’s Hall, Narberth until June 6th. And if you can’t get there in person, you can view the animated film by going to the following link on the web:  

P.S. My photos this week are of three small parts of the installation. They are included here with Sarah and Tim’s permission.

P.S.S. Thanks to the lovely comment below from my friend, Felice Tombs in New Zealand, I’ve been able to update this blog with the web-link above. I’m such an internet-innocent,  it hadn’t even occurred to me to ask Sarah and Tim if such a thing was available.


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2 Responses to “Storytelling Starters ~ Catch the magic”

  1. Felice Tombs Says:

    Mary your description of this piece sounded so wonderful , and as I am so far away I thought perhaps I could google Tim and Sarah. Low and behold there is the animation for all the world to see, and it is truely wonderful. Having been to Te Mathry I just loved the essence of Pembrokeshire that they have captured. Here is a link, if you want to share it.
    It really is delightful, and wonderful to hear your voice.
    Much love

  2. Mary Medlicott Says:

    Felice, so lovely to get your comment (and, as you’ll see, I’ve amended the blog to include it). You’ve been much in my mind over the last few days. I’ll write you a catch-up email over the next day or two. Meantime, thanks again and love.

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