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An exhibition celebrating Welsh music goes on tour

On Saturday, 17 September, a new exhibition – ‘Record: Folk, Protest and Pop’ opened at the Riverside gallery, Haverfordwest.

The exhibition explores the musical tradition of Wales throughout the centuries – from the crwth to Catatonia – using various items from The Welsh Music Archive and Screen and Sound Archive located at The National Library.

‘Record’ will explore why Wales is often described as the country of song, where our musical tradition began and how it developed.

The exhibition looks at the early folk music traditions in Wales through the medium of manuscripts such as Melus-seiniau Cymru, one of the most important collections of Welsh folk songs, collected by Ifor Ceri. The influence of individuals such as Meredydd Evans and his wife Phyllis Kinney in the field of folk music and light entertainment is acknowledged, through newly acquired items from their archive. Highlights from their collection include a previously unseen letter from Richard Burton to Merêd discussing Welsh folk melodies.

‘Record’ also explores how independent labels and Welsh groups have worked to produce revolutionary protest and pop music in recent decades. Bringing the story to life are various archives, including material relating to Y Blew and Super Furry Animals. Early pop magazines such as Sŵn, an extensive collection of gig posters from the 1960s to the 1990s and Malcolm Gwyon’s pop art portrait of Dafydd Iwan are also on display in the exhibition.

Pedr ap Llwyd, Chief Executive and Librarian of the National Library of Wales said: “Record: Folk, Protest and Pop is a colourful and diverse celebration of the musical tradition in Wales. It is a pleasure to be able to share the exhibition with new audiences outside of Aberystwyth by taking the exhibition on tour to the Riverside gallery in Haverfordwest, and demonstrate the richness of our collections which represent the development of the tradition across the centuries, using a combination of the collections of The Welsh Music Archive, the Screen and Sound Archive; and items from our visual collections. There is something for everyone in this exhibition, from the past to the present, and it is sure to stimulate memories among its visitors.”

Mari Elin Jones, Curator of ‘Record: Folk, Protest and Pop’ added:

“Curating this exhibition has been a lot of fun, and it’s been great to be able to put the collections of the Welsh Music Archive and Screen and Sound Archive, which are so varied and fascinating, centre stage. I hope ‘Record’ will inspire visitors to explore the National Library of Wales’s music collections further, as well as go to their local record shop to pick up a Welsh album or two!”

Nia Mai Daniel, Head of Archives, Manuscripts and Contemporary Records Section, and The Welsh Music Archive Coordinator said:

“The exhibition is a taste of the folk and pop music collections held at the National Library of Wales, and is an opportunity to celebrate some of our recent donations, such as the Merêd and Phyllis Kinney archive and a Super Furry Animals scrapbook. If anyone has further material to donate, such as posters, photographs, or letters, then please get in touch. Our work continues to ensure that our collections reflect the history of Welsh music from its roots to the present day.”

Showing alongside the Record exhibition is Pembrokeshire: Past and Present, a permanent exhibition focusing on the history, culture, and landscape of Pembrokeshire. Both exhibitions will run until Saturday 18 February 2023.

The Riverside is a flagship cultural centre in the heart of Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire. Opened in December 2018, it features a 21st century library, visitor information, coffee shop and a national government indemnity gallery space which showcases collections from The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. This high quality facility is unusual and pioneering and is already playing a central part in regenerating the town and wider area of Pembrokeshire.