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Plans afoot for new projects on island of 20,000 saints

01 Jan 2024 4 minute read
Ynys Enlli picture by Zabdiel (CC BY 2.0).

Ant Evans 

Ymddiriedolaeth Ynys Enlli, the Bardsey Island Trust has announced an ambitious series of projects for the island, located 2 miles across Bardsey Sound on the tip of the Llyn Peninsula in Gwynedd.

Ranging from the artistic, to restoration as well as spirituality and community heritage projects, the island of 20,000 saints will soon become a hive of activity.

That’s certainly the hope of the island’s Trust, who are keen to develop a variety of sustainable projects following the pandemic induced lockdowns, when the island was closed to visitors.

Artists

One of these projects is an Artist in Residence Project for the spring and summer of 2024. The intention is to invite artists who live and work in Gwynedd, or who has a close connection with the county, with an interest in the island’s landscape, ecology, the Welsh language as well as the culture and heritage of the island who could benefit from a residential experience.

The artists’ output will be both artistic and social in nature, for the benefit of the island’s visitors, residents, volunteers and Trustees. Artists will be expected to engage with islanders and visitors and to promote the project via social media.

This is an opportunity for six artists to spend up to four weeks on the island between the 1st of April and the 30th of September 2024. Accommodation and a studio will be provided, as the artists will be expected to stay on the island for the duration of the placement. There will be opportunities to display their work produced during the placement on the island.

The Trust is now appointing a co-ordinator and mentor for the artists in residence, a part time position for a period of 6-9 months (January to September 2024) to offer support, co-ordinate and to arrange the placements.

Retreats

A recently completed project is the restoration of Y Storws. This is one of the oldest buildings on Enlli, the hope is that it can serve as a multi-purpose space to be used for a wide range of purposes, including shelter, a space for small meetings or workshops, as well as a possible shop for island produce.

An important aspect of the project will be the social inclusion dimension, ensuring that different groups of people are engaged with and introducing the benefits of island life retreats to disadvantaged and homeless people.

The Heritage Lottery Grant awarded recently (three years’ worth of funding) will enable the Trust to establish over a dozen heritage projects and key new posts.

The Dark Sky Sanctuary & Webcam project will aim to reach out to new and diverse audiences online and the educational projects will engage with the next generation from local communities, such as pupils from Ysgol Crud Y Werin, Aberdaron.

Heritage

In addition to the Dark Sky Sanctuary and Webcam projects and an Education and Engagement Heritage Project, other project briefs managed by a new Project Officer will include Brenin Enlli and Diaspora projects, Enlli Historical, Spiritual and Religious Heritage, Oral and Photographic Histories and Social Inclusion and Heritage.

The new Buildings Conservation Manager will also begin to plan and restore the islands’ architectural heritage. All projects will take place on Ynys Enlli, with associated events at Aberdaron and the surrounding area as well as online, in order to reach new and diverse audiences.

The Trust’s development manager Menna Jones is enthusiastic about all of the future plans:  “The Heritage Lottery Grant for a quarter of a million pounds is the most significant investment on the island since Lord Newborough built the island’s existing houses in the 1870s – over 150 years ago!

“We have a team of committed trustees, members, staff and volunteers, as well as thousands of visitors and our ambition is to be an example of Welsh island life, supporting a vibrant island community, economy and sustainable ecology.”

With this level of enthusiasm and commitment, the island’s future is looking very bright indeed. The Trust is very much looking forward to working in partnership with several mainland social enterprises and key stakeholders.

If you’d like to find out more about any of the projects mentioned in this article, you can email [email protected]


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