AN 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.
Alerts issued ahead of Storm Brian
NATURAL RESOURCE WALES (NRW) is warning people that parts of the Welsh coast could see localised flooding as Storm Brian combines with high tides this evening and tomorrow.
The conditions could cause a storm surge, which in some areas could lead to overtopping of sea defences. Current predictions show that the worst affected areas are likely to be along exposed sections of the west coast of Wales from Southern Gwynedd to Llantwit Major.
High tides in these locations are expected to peak between 6am and 11am tomorrow (Oct 21).
NRW has already issued a number of flood alerts for the west coast, and is likely to issue flood warnings for Aberystwyth and Newgale later today. Further alerts or warnings for other areas will be issued as necessary.
24/7 Emergency response workers from NRW will be out at key areas of the coast over the next couple of day to monitor the high tides and condition of its sea flood defences.
NRW has also contacted its partner agencies such as local councils and the emergency services to ensure that appropriate responses are in place should the need arise.
Richard Hancox, from Natural Resources Wales said: “Conditions across the coastline are likely to be extremely dangerous this weekend and we urge people to stay clear, and avoid visiting the coast during this time.
“We know people are tempted to try and take photos of these storms, but it really isn’t worth putting your life at risk. Sea spray and flood water can knock you off your feet easier than you might think, and the large waves can send debris flying onto shore.
“If anyone is concerned about the risk of flooding to their home, please check to see if flood warnings are available in your area, and visit our website for advice on how best to prepare.”
Flood alerts and flood warnings are updated on the Natural Resources Wales website every 15 minutes.
Information and updates are also available by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188. People can also register for free flood warnings either by calling the Floodline number or at NRW’s website.
Major bequests for Aber research
TWO major legacies to support postgraduate research have been announced at Aberystwyth University’s Founders’ Day held in the Old College on October 13.
The University revealed that Eleanor and David James had donated £2m to the institution where they both worked for 35 years, while former student Margaret Wooloff has bequeathed £400,000.
Both bequests will be used to fund postgraduate research at the University, in line with the wishes of the benefactors.
The legacies were announced as part of the University’s now annual Founders’ event, which echoes the celebrations held in the town back in October 1872 when the first students arrived at Old College.
The Vice-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Elizabeth Treasure, said: “It is extremely fitting that these very special bequests have been the focal point of this year’s Founders’ Day event. They remind us how the University has been supported since its early beginnings by the generosity of the people of Wales and the wider world.
“Eleanor and David James, and Margaret Wooloff all dedicated their lives to the furtherance of knowledge and their valuable contributions to education in Wales will live on in their legacies. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
The Director of Development and Alumni Relations at Aberystwyth University, Louise Jagger, said: “There is a very strong bond between the University and our family of alumni across the world. Eleanor and David James and Margaret Wooloff were all active members of the Old Students’ Association during their lives and we are immensely grateful to them for their support over the years. Their generous legacies will now enable the scholars of the future to pursue their particular fields of expertise and undertake research with impact, which is integral to our mission as a leading University.”
Members of the local community joined staff and students at the Old College to mark Founders’ Day.
The guest speaker at the event was Ceredigion MP Ben Lake who said: “The story of how Aberystwyth University – or the University College of Wales as it was originally called – is one in which we can all take pride as a nation. Driven by the vision of its founders, the dream of establishing a college with University status in Wales was made possible thanks to the generosity of ordinary people. The roots and foundations of the University reflect our values in Wales and it is vitally important that we commemorate and celebrate this very special heritage.
“May I take this opportunity to congratulate Aberystwyth on being named recently as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality by the Good University Guide – a well deserved accolade which is testament to the dedication of all its staff.”
In July 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced that it had earmarked £10.5m for ambitious plans to redevelop Old College in time for the University’s 150th anniversary in 2022.
Driving Wales to international skills success
AS SKILLS CHAMPION for Wales, Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion principal Barry Liles is at the forefront of aspiring young people to develop high quality, world-class skills.
The vehicle used to drive this ambition are skills competitions, which are held on a Welsh, UK and international level.
Competitions in Wales begin with regional Welsh Government supported competitions which are events that culminate to find Wales’ top competitors who progress to take part in UKSkills national and WorldSkills international events.
This year, 36 competitors from the UK are competing at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi, four of which are from Wales, two of which represent Coleg Sir Gâr, which is an impressive percentage of UK representation. These competitors have undergone a rigorous training process by WorldSkills UK, supported by training providers and employers.
Coleg Sir Gâr students have been selected for Team UK since 2009 when carpentry student Cliff Williams made the team in 2009 competing in WorldSkills Calgary. He was followed by web designer David Bowen who competed for in WorldSkills London, 2011. Carpenter Gareth Jones won gold in EuroSkills in 2012 followed by Simon McCall and Eleni Constantinou who won two silvers at EuroSkills in 2014 for hairdressing and carpentry with Eleni progressing to represent the UK and Coleg Sir Gâr in hairdressing at WorldSkills, Sao Paulo in 2015.
Last year, the college was ranked joint third place in the UK for its medal success in the Skills Show – the UK final, for achieving three golds, one silver and one bronze award. The show, held at Birmingham’s NEC every year, brings together medal winners from all nations to compete and showcase their skills and to hopefully continue their journey to the international arena, representing the UK in Worldskills which brings over 50 competing countries together and is likened to the Olympic games.
Barry Liles, Skills Champion for Wales said: “To have an impact on the economy and raise Wales and UK’s GVA, we must raise the skills of the UK population and we’re trying to do this from a young age and we’re significantly targeting industries that are important to Wales’ economy.
“The anticipated result is hoped to impact on young people and help them raise their ambitions and to find highly skilled work.”
In Wales, to help achieve this ambition, is a Welsh-Government funded project called Inspiring Skills Excellence (ISE), which is providing a supportive infrastructure to enable competitors from Wales to achieve success at national and international level.
“Much of our work is supporting competitors across Wales in their participation, training and mentoring to help them achieve excellence in skills relevant to economic growth and delivering medal winning success at national and international competitions,” said Paul Evans, ISE pan-coordinator for Wales.
“Using state of the art equipment we also engage with schools, providing hands-on and exciting experiences for young people to raise awareness of careers and the pathways available to them.”
Barry Liles added: “Being Skills Champion for Wales is a long-held ambition perhaps because I came from a vocational engineering background, I am very passionate about it.
“Industry skills are vital in our economy and I don’t want Wales to be left behind, in fact in the last seven years we have helped drive the nation forward to being one of the leading and successful nations in UK skills competitions.”
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