Rhondda Voices

Sharon Magill

Rhondda Voices is a participatory installation that seeks to challenge the subjective and objective viewpoint by merging conversational contributions with photographic views of the Rhondda valley.

Rhondda Voices (2016)
Photo print on fabric, 6 channel audio installation, duration 12 minutes

During the summer of 2016 nine people with connections to the Rhondda met on a bench with the artist and spoke about their Rhondda. The artwork forms a collective conversation of shared histories, coincidences and contradictions that make up the diverse views and landscape of the valley.

Contributors and bench location
Cynthia Lewis, Tyntyla Avenue, Ystrad
Ryan Danahar, Sandy Bank Road, Ystrad
Ann Davies, Brynheulog Terrace, Tylorstown
Ann Lord, Brynheulog Terrace, Tylorstown
Keith Rhodes, Brynheulog Terrace, Tylorstown
Rob Cullen, Glyncornel Lake, Llwynypia
Kirsty Parlour, Pleasant Terrace
Lisa Powell, Penryhs Road, Penrhys
James Clemas, Eisteddfa Road, Ystrad

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SAMHAIN/THE GATHERING – On the Celtic Origins of Halloween

Balkan Celts


“……He was their god, the wizened Bent One with many glooms;

the people who believed in him over every harbour, the eternal Kingdom shall not betheirs.

For him ingloriously they slew their wretched firstborn with much weeping

and distress, to pour out their blood around the Bent One of the hill”.





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“Struggle or Starve”

“Mam was thirty-nine when she died. … I was not used to looking after a house and family, let alone a baby not quite two years old. It was one thing helping Mam; being in sole charge was quite different. Dad’s only contribution was to give me money each Friday and let me carry on as best I could.”

“Drawing on the memories of those who were young girls and young women at the time, this collection vividly recreates the lives of working class women during this difficult time of depression, dislocation and dramatic industrial and political struggle.

It mingles fragments of reminiscence of previously unpublished writers with extracts from published autobiographies – some, like the work of Elizabeth Andrews, long out of print – to protray women’s struggle, not just for survival, but for dignity, recognition and wider opportunities.”

“Struggle or Survive” Honno Press

is a must read in these times of austerity. Rob Cullen.


Why so the anger, Oh Myfanwy,
That fill your dark eyes
Your gentle cheeks, Oh Myfanwy,
No longer blush beholding me?
Where now the smile upon your lips
That lit my foolish faithful love?
Where now the sound of your sweet words,
That drew my heart to follow you?


What was it that I did, Oh Myfanwy,
To deserve the frown of your beautiful cheeks?
Was it a game for you, Oh Myfanwy,
This poet’s golden flame of love?
You belong to me, through true promise,
Too much to keep your word to me?
I’ll never seek your hand, Myfanwy,
Unless I have your heart with it.


Myfanwy, may your life entirely be
Beneath the midday sun’s bright glow,
And may a blushing rose of health
Dance on your cheek a hundred years.
I forget all your words of promise
You made to someone, my pretty girl
So give me your hand, my sweet Myfanwy,
For no more but to say “farewell”.



For the little children.

Bitter limp fruit

Bitter limp fruit



Imagine fishermen labouring in a heavy seas swell

Pulling in the trawl to find a bitter limp fruit

Entwined in the mesh of drip wet green nets

The dead eyed souls of their young children

And we stay silent for our history is never told

Silenced from the hour, the days, and the years

For we are edited out of the hour of our times


Imagine coal miners hollowing out the seams

Men stripping coal a mile underground and more

And the hooters above ground calling them away

And brought up into the blinking light see the black tip

The harvest of their toils washed into the village

Spewed over the school where small children

Had read rhymes, sang hymns, were supposed to be safe

And we stay silent for our history is never told

Silenced from the hour, the days, and the years

For we are edited out of the hour of our times.


Imagine the trail of letters written foretelling

The concerns, the fears that a disaster would occur

And the NCB replies not days, not months but years later

And on a grey fog filled October day after weeks of rain

A small children’s school and a day of devastation

Exactly in the manner and the way foretold

And imagine if no one was held to account

And those families told make the slag heap safe

From the proceeds raised for the disaster fund

And we stay silent for our history is never told

Silenced from the hour, the days, and the years

For we are edited out of the hour of our times.


Imagine the miner, the father, the brother, the son

Looking out at the sprawl of waste they’d dug

Imagine the mother, the sister, the daughter

Looking out at the grey listlessness of another day

Of the silent keening, the numbed grieving

Of the impossibility of using words to describe

And we stay silent for our history is never told

Silenced from the hour, the days, and the years

For we are edited out of the hour of our times.


Imagine the mothers bringing up children

The happiness and hopes for the future

Imagine the sisters who stayed off school

Imagine the brother too slow and was late

Imagine the vacuum where a life had been

Imagine a young life where a vacuum is now

And we have been silenced, our history just words

And our future is silent and will never be told

Silenced from the hour, silenced from those days

Silenced from the years, silenced from all that might have been.



The Aberfan Tribunal found that repeated warnings about the dangerous condition of the tip had been ignored, and that colliery engineers at all levels had concentrated only on conditions underground. In one passage, the Report noted:

“We found that many witnesses … had been oblivious of what lay before their eyes. It did not enter their consciousness. They were like moles being asked about the habits of birds.”

No NCB staff were ever demoted, sacked or prosecuted as a consequence of the Aberfan disaster or of evidence given to the Inquiry.