‘Between the Plagues’: Covid-19 and Brexit inspire poet and artist collaboration
A bilingual collection of poems is the product of a collaboration between poet Siôn Aled and Welsh artist Iwan Bala.
The volume called Rhwng Pla a Phla / Between the Plagues includes both their reactions to the impact of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic on Wales and the world.
The volume’s poet, Sion Aled was born in Bangor, and has lived in Morneo, Scotland and Australia, and Iwan Bala, now of Cefneithin, is an award-winning artist who has worked internationally.
Siôn Aled said: “When Brexit happened – and the cruel prospect of avoiding it before allowing the disastrous December 2019 Election – it felt as if nothing worse could happen. And then, right on Brexit’s heels, came an even worse plague!
“COVID highlighted the differences and the divisions between the different parts of the UK, and I believe it promoted the prospect of moving away from Westminster and closer to the rest of Europe and the world.”
Siôn Aled said that the book is bilingual because “I was especially enthusiastic for making sure that the non-Welsh speakers understand the true implications Covid, Brexit and so forth could have on the Welsh language and Welsh communities and their culture.”
Iwan Bala, the volume’s illustrator, said that an artist has an important role in the political world.
“I have always felt that the artist has a duty to be provocative and to discuss social, political and cultural issues,” he said.
“Responding to an exhibition of Brexit ‘cartoons’ in Penarth in 2017 proved the value of the work to me. The audience was split into two groups, those who claimed the work was ‘pornographic’ and others who praised the work and the thought process behind it.”
Publishers Gwasg Carreg Gwalch said that the volume was a glimpse through the eyes of a poet and artist “as the world continues to wrestle with the impact of COVID-19, and as the devastating aftermath of Brexit is merely beginning to manifest itself”.
“Here is a record of how the flow of our normal day-to-day lives continued throughout, as life has to. Here is a diary, in the form of art and poetry, of an unprecedented time in our history.”
Rhwng Dau Bla / Between the Plagues is published by Gwasg Carreg Gwalch. A virtual launch can be attended here.