Care home residents in Wrexham are working with a top textile artist on a pioneering project celebrating links with Patagonia.
The residents of Pendine Park are creating a 3D model of the Mimosa, the clipper ship that took the first settlers to the Welsh colony in South America just over 150 years ago.
Leading the project is Cefyn Burgess, who is based at the Ruthin Craft Centre, and it also involves residents of Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd dementia centre in Caernarfon.
The idea was inspired by a project called Perthyn during which Cefyn worked with pupils of Ysgol yr Hendre in the Patagonian city of Trelew to produce tapestries depicting life on the River Camwy.
The tapestries have been exhibited at Galeri, Caernarfon and pupils of Ysgol Yr Hendre, Caernarfon are also involved in the project which will include images of Liverpool, from where the Mimosa sailed from in 1865.
Cefyn, who has designed fabrics for Paul Smith, Liberty, Medici and Gallery 5, says the aim is for children and Pendine Park residents to work together to collect stories and images of life in North Wales.
The stories and images will then be used to create a series of tapestries which will be hung in Pendine Park Care Organisation care homes.
Cefyn said: “The idea is to produce three very different collages. One, which is being done in Caernarfon shows the buildings and life in Snowdonia and Caernarfon in particular.
“The second, which we are doing here in Wrexham will look at the buildings and skyline of Liverpool, which is where the Welsh migrants sailed from, and the third will depict the immigrants final destination which is the beach at Porth Madryn, Patagonia where they landed.
“Once we have done the three collages we will cut, iron and sew the textiles to make a tapestry telling the three stories as one.
“Here at the Pendine Park care homes in Wrexham, Sarah Edwards, the artist in residence is working with residents to make a 3-D model of the Mimosa which will then go on display in front of the three tapestry panels.
“We will then photograph the model and the tapestry and make a print from the image.
“The residents here at Wrexham are creating mono prints depicting Liverpool buildings that the Welsh immigrants would have seen as they sailed from the port on board the Mimosa.
“They are doing a wonderful job and producing some fantastic work. It’s great that we even have a resident who hails from Birkenhead and grew up opposite the Mersey front at Liverpool.”
Sarah Edwards said: “We are making our model of the Mimosa from chicken wire and papier maché. Once we have finished it will stand 3ft high and will be 4ft long.
“Residents, who come from Bryn Bella, Highfield, Penybryn and Bodlondeb care homes, are really enjoying the project and working really hard.
“We are also working with the Hallé orchestra on a Patagonia project. We are learning Patagonian and traditional Welsh songs and sea shanties as well as traditional Patagonian music.
“We are baking bara brith from a Patagonian recipe and writing poems to go with our work. It means residents are challenged and also enjoy a really good opportunity to interact socially with each other.
“I’m really looking forward to finishing the project and seeing the finished tapestry and our Mimosa model. It will be something residents can be very proud of.”
Stroke victim Tony Ithell, 58, a resident of the Penybryn brain injury and neurological care home, grew up in Birkenhead and says he has really enjoyed making mono prints of the Liver Building.
He said: “It’s been fantastic. Being from Merseyside I know the Liver Building really well. It’s the first time I’ve done this but it’s been really good and I’m pleased with my work.”
Fellow Penybryn resident Sian Walley, 45, said: “It’s really educational and something different. I didn’t know anything about Patagonia.”
Highfield House resident Steven Ferrier, 55, also enjoyed making mono prints for the project.
He said: “It’s a really interesting project and I’m enjoying what we are doing. I went to Caernarfon and worked with some residents of Bryn Seiont Newydd too which was good.
“It great to have the chance to mix with other residents and have an opportunity to work on a project you can get your teeth into. It’s going to look good when it’s finished.”