Y Tŷ Celf - The Art House is a collective of local artists and makers working in Llanelli since 2017 to provide gallery and making spaces in the town centre. We have been delivering arts and craft workshops in the community since 2019.
We focus on the hidden and emerging artists to draw out the treasures from the land and it's people. Valuing the culture and industrial heritage of Wales, making art the heart of the community
Taking inspiration from the positive effect creatives have had in other areas – Stroud, East Durham and Portsmouth, to name a few the idea for an artisan quarter in Llanelli town centre emerged in 2016. We saw the possibility of a new identity for the town centre and wanted to play our part in its renewal and reviving it’s heart.
We obtained funding for a feasibility study and Business Plan for a Creative Hub that provided gallery space, studio and making spaces and rooms for workshops. From our online and face to face questionnaire responses there was a clear need and appetite, particularly amongst young people for accessible arts and crafts activities and events.
Unable to access the use of empty shops on meanwhile leases we were supported initially by Llanelli House who gave us the use of their Gallery Shop to host monthly artists/makers lunches to begin to gather creatives who wanted to work together. This really gave us a platform to begin to build from.
Many artists/makers that gathered were taking a first step into exhibiting and this chimed with our desire to support those emerging and exploring their creative expression. In July 2019 we opened our first gallery space in Stepney St and began delivering arts/craft workshops in the community. We were all set to fly when in early 2020 Covid-19 meant we had to close and adapt to the new landscape.
We received Cultural Recovery Funding through Arts Council Wales in November 2020 and June 2021 which enabled us to run 2 Covid Recovery Arts & Craft Workshop Programmes until September 2021. These face-to-face and zoom sessions aimed to support people through the pandemic, give them a safe space to talk about how they were coping and provide a creative activity. The sessions had a profound effect on many participants, bringing joy, connection and company to many people who were struggling, together with a sense of achievement at having learnt a new skill or discovered something new about themselves in the creative process.
Quotes from participants:-
“You are doing amazing work. And I really feel that the fact of making connections is what it's all about these days. The isolation is really crippling and crazy making. Things that bring us together are so important. You do this all with such flair & joy. I can't say enough how inspired I am by what you're doing out in the world”
“Workshops are more to do with giving time to do something new & enjoyable & meet new people & make connections.”
“It is a gentle welcoming atmosphere which provides a very nurturing and safe environment for attendees”
“The groups were small, but they were not people I would usually spend time with (strangers), so it was really helpful in getting used to being back in the world. Also, being absorbed in art for a few hours helped you to forget COVID, briefly, which was a welcome respite.”
“My mental health has improved by taking time out just for myself and socialising whilst producing art and feeling a sense of achievement.”
“Sharing my work with other people to gain their thoughts made me realise there is nothing wrong in my style of work”
Connecting with and receiving Arts Council Wales funding has been a major step forward for us and we are now running 2 programmes through 2022.
Health & Wellbeing Fund: We are partnering with Platfform4Change working with young people 13-16 years old with mental health issues and delivering ‘The Art of Belonging’ workshops in Swansea
Create Fund: At our new premises in Lllanelli we are continuing to support people explore their creativity and support local artists/maker with practice development sessions through the Create funding of “Exploring identity’ workshops. PICS of workshops
In February 2022 we finally found a new permanent home for the Creative Hub at 1 John St, Lllanelli and we are very excited about the future.