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Elvis rock goes to Graceland

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CEH270516_Page_20_Image_0003AN ICONIC Welsh rock on a remote hillside in Mid Wales is to have pride of place in Graceland, the former home of Elvis King of Rock, in Memphis Tennessee, which now houses the Elvis Presley museum.

A new painting of the small hamlet of Eisteddfa Gurig by local Ceredigion artist Wynne Melville Jones features the famous roadside ‘Elvis’ graffiti and is known locally as the ‘Elvis Rock’.

Now, a limited edition print of this original painting has been presented to the Elvis Presley Archive at Graceland in Memphis, the famous mansion and home of the world’s greatest rock star which now houses the Elvis Presley museum and archive and attracts 700,000 visitors annually.

The ‘Elvis Rock’ is located on the A44 some 10 miles east of Aberystwyth, close to the hamlet of Eisteddfa Gurig near Pumlumon in the upper reaches of the Cambrian Mountains and has been a popular roadside feature for travellers for over fifty years.

On a dark night in 1962, two young boys from Aberystwyth ventured out to the hills with a paint brush to daub the name Elis in support of Islwyn Ffowc Elis, the Plaid Cymru candidate in the Montgomeryshire constituency. A by-election had been called following the death of local MP Clement Davies.

Soon after the election the name was changed to Elvis, assumedly by a fan of the world renowned rock and roll entertainer. It is said that colleagues of the distinguished and good natured politician and literary figure Islwyn Ffowc Elis felt at the time that the author was quite pleased to be put on the same stage as the King of Rock.

Islwyn Ffowc Elis was one of the most successful and best known Welsh language novelists in the twentieth century and died in 2004 at the age of 79.

The canvas painting by Wynne Melville Jones was completed earlier this year for an exhibition to mark five years of artwork. The original picture entitled ‘Eisteddfa Gurig – Elvis Rock’ is one of 56 paintings by the artist currently on show at the exhibition at Oriel Rhiannon in the market town of Tregaron.

Former art student Wynne, who grew up in Tregaron and returned to the paint brush five years ago after a gap of 40 years is very proud to stage a keynote exhibition of his work in his hometown. He has completed 250 paintings in this five year period.

Wynne became known as moderniser of the Urdd youth movement in the 1970’s and his best known creation undoubtedly is the Urdd’s movement cult figure Mr Urdd – a favourite with hundreds of thousands of children and young people in Wales over four decades. In 1979 he set up Wales’ first bilingual PR agency StrataMatrix and he ran the company successfully for thirty years.

Since retiring in 2011 he has become totally immersed in his main interest – visual art and works from his studio at his home in Llanfihangel Genau’r Glyn / Llandre near Bow Street in Ceredigion. His picture of the most remote chapel in Wales, Soar-y- Mynydd near Tregaron, is in the art collection of former US President Jimmy Carter.

Wynne is very proud of his roots in west Wales and feels a sense of responsibility for all things Welsh. His paintings reflect his depth of knowledge and respect to the rich heritage and culture of the rural communities.

“I paint what catches my eye and most of my pictures are inspired by the landscape and the colours and cultural features of west Wales and the subject matter of many of my pictures are familiar to lots of people.

“I regularly travel on the A44 and the Elvis Rock is a familiar site, and to me it’s a welcome home landmark on my return journey as I approach my home county of Ceredigion as the county boundary is just round the corner from the rock.

“With the graffiti on the rock having been undisturbed for half a century it is now regarded as a Welsh national tribute to Elvis and I feel that Graceland is the natural home for this picture.

“I have personally been influenced by both giants associated with this rock. Elvis and his music was music was a central part of my youth culture and as a student I had the privilege of knowing Islwyn Ffowc Elis personally and grew to appreciate his literary work during my college days at Trinity College Carmarthen where he lectured in the Welsh and Drama department.

“It’s always far more satisfying to paint a subject which has a personal meaning,” said Wynne.

The original painting Eisteddfa Gurig – Elvis Rock is currently on show in the exhibition at Oriel Rhiannon Tregaron. The picture has been purchased last week by a private buyer but it will remain on display at the Gallery until the exhibition closes on July 2.

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Proposed work on dangerous Dorglwyd Junction set to be delayed

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ELIN JONES AM and Ben Lake MP have expressed their frustration following a recent statement from the Welsh Government noting that work on the A487 Dorglwyd junction from Comins Coch, would be delayed.

The junction has witnessed several crashes and close-calls over recent years, with local residents calling for the development of a roundabout or similar traffic-calming measures.

The Welsh Government announced in September 2016 that a feasibility study would be undertaken by the following Summer as to consider potential options to improve the junction.

However, a recent letter from Ken Skates AM, Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport to Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP noted: “We are aware of the issues at the junction and an improvement scheme has been within our upgrades programme for some time. Unfortunately, due to limited financial resources and competing priorities, it has progressed slowly.”

“We are currently reviewing the scope of a possible improvement and considering solutions which are affordable and minimise environmental impact. When we are in a position to present outline solutions, a workshop with local stakeholders will be held. This is likely to be in early 2019.”

Elin Jones AM said: “Whilst I do welcome such clarification from the Cabinet Secretary on the next steps for Dorglwyd junction, it is disappointing to read that no major works for the transformation will happen due to the expense of the project. It is positive however to see that a smaller scale improvement is now to be pursued, with consultation likely to be undertaken in early 2019.”

John Roberts, local Ceredigion County Councillor for Faenor ward, added: “I share both Elin Jones’ and Ben Lake’s disappointment at the response from Ken Skates AM. The original plan was to encapsulate a more global project including the Llanbadarn bypass therefore we need to be more realistic in our aspirations for Dorglwyd corner. Having discussed the project on site with both Elin Jones AM and Ben Lake MP last week we were of the opinion that a much smaller project which could solve the Dorglwyd issue was feasible and be much cheaper than the present scheme. We will wait for the consultation period in 2019.”

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Museum lights up the past

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CEREDIGION MUSEUM has had a full refurbishment of its lighting thanks to £116,558 of grants from Welsh Governments Museums Archives and Libraries Division and the Rural Community Development Fund.

Museum Curator, Carrie Canham, said: “Lighting has been a problem for us for some time; the system was so old that we couldn’t get new bulbs for some of the fittings. Also, we love to put on theatrical and musical performances at the museum but we couldn’t create an atmosphere with just strip lights and footlights. We’ve now got great stage and display lighting and it’s transformed the whole experience for our audiences.

“The new lighting system is all LED, so not only does it look much better it is also more suitable for the more delicate exhibits and it saves us money on our lighting bill.”

The lighting was designed and installed by DBNAudile, who specialise in museum lighting.

The team managed to install the system with minimal disruption to visitors.

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KeolisAmey awarded Wales and Borders Rail contract

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KEOLISAMEY is pleased that the Welsh Government has announced its intention to award the contract to operate the Wales and Borders rail service and the South Wales Metro to KeolisAmey.

Upon successful completion of a 10-day standstill period, the contract will run from June 4, 2018, to October 14, 2033, with rail services transferring on October 14, 2018.

This standstill period is normal procurement practice.

KeolisAmey is a joint venture partnership of international public transport operator Keolis, and infrastructure asset management specialist Amey.

KeolisAmey currently runs the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London, which has one of the best records in UK rail – consistently better than 99% reliability. Additionally, we operate and maintain Greater Manchester’s Metrolink – the largest tram network in the UK.

Alistair Gordon, Chief Executive of Keolis UK, said: “This will be a transformative new rail service for Wales and its borders which will see Keolis once more combine its worldwide expertise in passenger operations with Amey’s engineering excellence.

“We look forward to the successful completion of the procurement process – this exciting contract will deliver for all of Wales. The procurement process was rigorous, resulting in transformative solutions for the benefit of all in Wales, and indeed, future generations.

“While the proposed changes won’t happen overnight, the railway will be unrecognisable in five years thanks to the vision of the Welsh Government.”

Andy Milner, Amey’s Chief Executive, said: “Building on our successful partnership with Keolis, which already sees us deliver two high performing services – the Greater Manchester Metrolink and London’s DLR – we are honoured to be asked to operate the Wales and Borders service.

“This is a great opportunity for us to use our joint capabilities to deliver a first-rate service for Wales. We will be focused on working with Transport for Wales to transform the existing infrastructure and introduce new trains to significantly improve the passenger experience, as well as creating hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.”

KeolisAmey is unable to make any further comment until the procurement process has concluded and the contract has been awarded.

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