An Oral History of Performance Art in Wales (1968-2008)

Respondent or information from other source
Dr Heike Roms, Lecturer in Performance Studies, Aberystwyth University – Principal Investigator/ Project Director

Aims, policies, purpose/ impetus for project:
An Oral History of Performance Art in Wales was a series of publicly staged conversations with key artists who have shaped the history of performance art in Wales since the 1960s.
The project aimed:
– to uncover and document an important part of Welsh art history
– to offer a forum for critical debate on performance art in Wales
– to make innovative work more accessible and comprehensible to a wider audience
– to provide artists, above all early-career artists, with a sense of history and continuity, thereby contributing to their professional development
– to establish the distinctiveness of Welsh performance art
– to raise the profile of Welsh performance at a national and international level
– to create a vibrant, performative, interactive “live archive” of performance art in Wales

Dates: Start Date: October 2006, End Date: January 2008.

The project is part of a larger research enquiry, “What’s Welsh for Performance? Beth yw ‘Performance’ yn Gymraeg?” – A research project devoted to uncovering and archiving the history of performance art in Wales.
Details on a current follow-up project are listed under “Oral History Project 2”

Key individuals and roles involved:
1 – Heike Roms – researcher, interviewer, organiser

Paid or voluntary, training in oral history:
Employed as lecturer in Performance Studies, Aberystwyth University
Completed Oral history training by Oral History Society/ British Library Sound Archive.

Project funded by: Arts Council of Wales/ National Lottery Grant

Management of project: Within a University Department.

Format of interviews:
– mini DV
– minidisk audio recording – later transferred to MP3

How interviewees are selected and located: through extensive research

Interview running time: Around 2 hours per interview

Copyright in interviews. Assignment rights?:
Copyright holder – Heike Roms/ What’s Welsh for Performance?
All interviewees have signed assignment of copyrights.

Location of interview copies. Accessibility to public/format:
All interviews were staged as public events in front of a live audience (approx. 80-100 per interview) at locations in Cardiff (Cardiff School of Art and Design) and Aberystwyth (Aberystwyth University).
DVDs of the interviews are stored as follows:
Mastercopy (on Archive Gold DVD) stored in What’s Welsh for Performance? collection, Heike Roms, Aberystywth University;

Further copies (on DVD) will be stored during 2009 at: Centre for Performance Research, Aberystwyth University; Live Art Archive/ Theatre Collection, Bristol University; National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales; British Library National Sound Archive.

Collection contact details/website.

Interview transcripts/lists of topics or other content indexes:
Full transcripts of the interviews are published in publication listed below

Transcript summaries are in preparation to be published on the project’s website.

Future plans for project/interviews?:
See Oral History Project 2 details.

Materials used for publications, exhibitions, conferences, radio/TV programmes or performances etc or future plans for this?:
Heike Roms, What’s Welsh for Performance? An Oral History of Performance Art in Wales (vol.1), Cardiff: Trace Samizdat Press, 2008 ISBN 0955392721 RRP £10.
Includes full transcripts of the interviews with Ivor Davies, Shirley Cameron & Roland Miller, T.E.Jones, J.C.Jones & A.Knight, and Anthony Howell.
Volume 2 is in preparation for publication in 2009.

Project website:

List on a joint (possibly STR website):Yes

Join listserv/emailing list/forum:Yes

Further information: For more information on the project see: – Heike Roms (2008) ‘Eventful Evidence: Historicizing Performance Art’, Maska. 117-118 (Issue: History – Experience – Archive) (Autumn 2008), pp. 69-77. – Heike Roms (2008) ‘What’s Welsh for Performance? Constructing an Archive of Performance Art in Wales’, Cyfrwng Media Wales Journal 5: 54-72. ISSN 1742-9234 – Heike Roms (forthcoming) ‘Remembering Performance – Performing Memory: An Oral History of Performance Art in Wales’, in Capturing the Essence of Performance: The Challenges of Intangible Heritage, Proceedings of the 27th International Conference SIBMAS, Glasgow, 25th-29th August 2008, Brussels : Peter Lang.

List of interviewees provided: Yes (see just below)

What’s Welsh for Performance?
An Oral History of Performance Art in Wales (1968-2008)

A two-year series of events devoted to key artists who have shaped the development of performance art in Wales since 1968.

Conversation 1: Ivor Davies
12 October 2006, Cardiff School of Art and Design
… in conversation about his performance work in the 1960s, the Destruction in Art Symposium in 1966 and his involvement with the Beca group
Duration: 111min48sec

Conversation 2: Shirley Cameron & Roland Miller
23 November 2006, Cardiff School of Art and Design
…in conversation about performance at the legendary Barry Summer School and their joint performance work in Wales in the 1970s Duration: 103’26”

Conversation 3: Timothy Emlyn Jones, John Chris Jones and Andrew Knight
22 February 2007, Cardiff School of Art and Design
…in conversation about the international performance programme at the National Eisteddfod 1977
Duration: 128’12”

Conversation 4: Anthony Howell
15 March 2007, Cardiff School of Art and Design
…in conversation about his work, Cardiff’s performance scene in the 1990s and his involvement in Grey Suit and Cardiff Art in Time
Duration: 90’47”

Conversation 5: Janek Alexander, Geoff Moore & Mike Pearson
18 October 2007, Cardiff School of Art and Design
…in conversation about Cardiff’s performance and alternative theatre scene in the 1970s and their involvement in Chapter Arts Centre
Duration: 115’50”

Conversation 6: Richard Gough
22 November 2007, The Foundry Aberystwyth
…in conversation about alternative approaches to teaching, archiving and publishing performance and on the role of internationalism for performance art in Wales.
Duration: 101’56”

Conversation 7: Phil Babot, André Stitt, Simon Whitehead
24 January 2008, Cardiff School of Art and Design
…in conversation about the contemporary performance art scene in Wales, the role of artist-run spaces and networks and the significance of place in performance.
Duration: 110’47”