Hanes Llanddynes - Llandudno through the stories of women
Hanes Llanddynes is a telling of the 16,000 year-long story of Llandudno, through the lives of women who have been part of it. It is the result of a month I spent walking the streets of Llandudno residency with Culture Action Llandudno in Autumn 2017, as part of their Ideas-People-Places project.
Llandudno – as you probably know - is situated on the North Wales Coast, an Isthmus town on the Creuddyn Peninsula, best known as a Victorian seaside resort: The Queen of Welsh Resorts. But Hanes Llanddynes shows Llandudno’s roots reaching way back, into ancient geology and the origins of human habitation in Britain. Her branches reach forward to an uncertain future built on events that relate their origins – as a proverbial butterfly flapping its wings – to the beginnings of neoliberalism and its results, including patterns of land ownership, consumerism and climate chaos. This is also, after all, the Venice of the North (as well as God’s Waiting Room), and this maybe a Siren Call to action.
On the way, we will celebrate the interplay between the everyday and the extraordinary. We will see common themes like the bond of sisters and collective action, and some classic Llandudno favourites come through too, like the intimate connection to rock and water, strong characters, active citizens, a love of history and the sea. We also discover a multi-faceted relationship to washing machines and quite a few queens. There is some going with the flow, some standing up against it (although we didn’t quite get the pink hotel in), and a bit of running from it. There is quite a bit about being an angel or a harridan (or the face of an angel with a harridan inside), especially when the story turns to pioneering change.
Hanes Llanddynes challenges Llandudno’s ‘history’, because, as it turns out, there exists just as strong a ‘her’story, and it seems impossible to go back to believing it is possible ‘know’ Llandudno without it.
Particular thanks go to Wanda Zyborska, with whom I spent a day hunting down and reflecting upon the meaning of Llandudno’s (lack of) monuments and memorials. Her insights are the inspiration for the project. You can see (and hear) more of that initial walk here
There are many other ways of telling the stories of Llandudno see (for example):
Secret Llandudno by John Lawson Reay (who also has an incredible selection of photos); The Band on the Prom by Susan M. Wolfendale; a couple of books by F. Ron Williams on Llandudno and the Mostyn Influence; diary of a Journey into North Wales in the year 1774 by Samuel Johnson ; Atgofion Hen Llandudno (Memories of Old Llandudno) written in about 1883 by Thomas Rowlands. There are many technical archaeological, caving and geological papers to be found by searching online. See also History Points, and a book about Beatrice Blore Brown is available from the Museum.
GRRRLS in the GAREJ 15-16 September 2018
More than 200 people came to edit and add to an underground story (and giant map) of Llandudno from 16,000 years ago to present through the stories of the women. Via the event and the “You Know You Are From Llandudno If…” facebook site, we gathered many new stories, from past, present and future lives of the everyday and extraordinary.
We also debated the role of monuments and memorialising, had tea and cake and celebrated women’s stories by making mini-merched-monuments in the DIY MONUMENT LAB.
On the Sunday, we went on a Monument Placing Procession, making Llandudo the first town in history to monumentalise its women.
… and video of GRRRLS in the GARAGE below:
Hanes Llanddynes was first published in the summer of 2018, as part of the celebrations of the centenary of women’s suffrage. I was delighted that the cards were used to inspire portraits of 'strong women' women on the Llandudno banner (under the leadership of artist Melanie Miller), going to the procession of thousands of women in Cardiff on 10th June. Cards 4, 10, 12, 15 - 20, 23 and 26 were used.