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Myles Pepper reminisces on the journey of the West Wales Arts Centre from 1987 to now.

I was brought up close to Carn Ffoi on Newport Mountain, which today remains a key place in my life, often going up there for sources of inspiration. I have worked in the arts for 53 years and when I studied jewellery and silversmithing in Birmingham it was always my intention, against all advice other than my parents who supported me, to return to north Pembrokeshire; this backed by my belief that culture in its widest sense would have a key role going forward in providing opportunities for others to base themselves in an area of outstanding natural beauty with an opportunity to make at least part of their living here.

Acquiring the West Wales Arts Centre in 1987 I was still practising as a jeweller silversmith, this until around 2005, when I put my tools down. At this major turning point, I was questioning life, I had already been putting on concerts, a wide range of creative workshops, sports events, book events with a difference, these largely to present opportunities to school age and young students to expend their energies creatively. I realised that I was reasonably able in organising events and continue to work with this in mind.

Going back to my mountain days I had clearly held a fascination for who and what was beyond the horizon of the great Irish Sea, so it’s no wonder that my first steps in putting out the hand of friendship would be with County Wexford. The story is not a short one and I feel a book brewing, possibly to be launched in October 2024 when a number of new commissions in music, writing and other art forms will be premiered in St. Davids Cathedral, and then toured on a journey from St. Davids Head to Holyhead, and Dun Laoghaire to Cork, this over a three-year period and with view to establishing new and sustainable networks. This ‘grand’ project is called Simffoni Mara and is inspired by Life on the Edge of the Irish Sea, Life On It and Life Underneath It.

Food has played a central role in developing relationships and new ideas and through this, I began to cook, and I developed an interest in wine….if you want to know more than pay us a visit, you will be very welcome!! The ‘Centre’ is a vehicle for bringing people together and to present opportunities for audience to experience something new in a different environment, and then to present performance and exhibiting opportunities for both aspiring and established practitioners. Whilst as a child we ventured across the Irish Sea on daytrips to Wexford, I first began building relationships in County Wexford in 1995. The following lyrics I commissioned recently from the renowned lyricist Grahame Davies, say with all the colour and magic that only the finest writer could create in so few words.

Simffoni Mara
Yn y dyfnder rhwng dwylan,
am ennyd, clywyd y gân.
Yn y dim rhwng y ddwy don,
yn y distawrwydd, mae’r dôn.
Yn y gwynt, os gwrandewi,
mae llithiau a lleisiau’r lli.

Prose translation
(In the depth between two shores,
for a moment, the music is heard.
In the nothing between two waves,
in the silence, is the song.
In the wind, if you listen,
are the lessons, and the voices of the sea.)

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