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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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‘Once in a lifetime’ reorganisation planned by Health Board

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THE LOCAL Health Board is embarking on a ‘once in a lifetime’ reorganisational plan which is looking at all potential options to ‘change the status quo and focus on improving health’ of locals.

This will involve, a press release has revealed, transferring more hospital services into the community where appropriate.

This is part of a strategy that the Health Board is looking into, to help solve an acute recruitment problem which is putting a great deal of pressure on the way that the Heath Board operates – and is leading to an untenable level of use of costly temporary staff to plug gaps and services.

In the summer of 2017, the Health Board embarked in an engagement with the public called ‘The Big Conversation’ which involved public workshops and drop-ins being held across the three counties of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The Health Board now says the it has independently analysed opinions of the general public and has been using that data to explore, challenge and test different scenarios.

It is yet to be seen what these changes will mean for end service users.

The Herald understands it is likely to mean hospital services being reduced or cut, and replaced with community alternatives.

The Health Board has said it will not make any changes, unless it can guarantee the safety of the people which it serves.

The Health Board has insisted that no preferred option for change has yet been determined, and nothing has been signed off or agreed at this stage.

Medical Director Dr Philip Kloer said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our health service and community to work together to design an NHS which is fit for our generation and beyond. It has been acknowledged for some time across the UK that healthcare services are challenged like never before and we need significant change. Indeed this has been recognised in the recently published ‘Parliamentary Review of Health & Social Care’ here in Wales.

“We need to develop more proactive, resilient and better resourced local community services to support and improve people’s health and wellbeing, and avoid deterioration where possible. This will involve closer working with our partners, particularly colleagues in social care. We are also looking at ways of providing the most modern clinical practice, using the latest digital, technological, and new scientific developments, in fit for purpose facilities to provide better patient outcomes and experience.

“A number of our services are fragile and dependent on significant numbers of temporary staff, which can lead to poorer quality care. For us specifically in Hywel Dda, the geography we cover is large, with many scattered communities that are getting older, needing more holistic health and social care treatment and support. Because of this, we need to better resource our community based care, which is where most of our patient contact is, and help people manage their health conditions. We also need to evolve traditional ways of working and provide a more proactive approach. This should give patients – young, older and frail and everyone in between – the services they need when the need it, so people do not have to wait too long.

“This will mean changing hospital-based care, as well as community care, and we appreciate the attachment local people and our own staff have for their local hospitals. They have been cared for in them, or work in them, and they also play an important role in our wider communities. The options may propose change to a local hospital; however this is about more than the buildings. This is about investing in our communities, attracting doctors, nurses and therapists by operating a modern healthcare system and keeping hospitals for those who really need hospital care.

“We will not put in place any change that isn’t safe for our patients and population. And we will look at all the impacts from ensuring services are safer with better patient outcomes, to considering the wider impact on people, including the most vulnerable.”

Dr Kloer added: “The potential options are evolving, with changes to them on almost a daily basis. Many will never even reach public consultation, for a variety of reasons including safety, accessibility and affordability, or will change significantly as they are tested against population needs and healthcare standards.

“We will be coming back to the public in the spring with fewer options that have been more rigorously tested and we will open and honest about what we think our preferred option is and why. We would not, and cannot, propose something that would not be safe for our population.

“We live in this community, use our NHS and work for our NHS and we want to work with our patients, staff, partners and public to ensure it is the best it can be.”

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It’s About Time

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Sioned spinning

THIS January, Ceredigion Museum are proud to exhibit artwork by the portrait painter Seren Morgan Jones, originally from Aberystwyth and the third generation of women artists in her family.

Jones follows in the footsteps of her grandmother Margaret Jones, whose work forms part of the Ceredigion Museum collection. The exhibition will be followed in January 2019 by a retrospective show of work by her grandmother Margaret Jones who celebrates her 100th birthday this December.

It’s About Time is an amalgamation of two distinct bodies of work created by Seren Morgan Jones; ‘History’s Eyes’ documenting Welsh women from the 19th century and ‘Portraits of Protesters’ a collection of paintings documenting Welsh suffragists at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Drawing inspiration from historical aesthetics and references, but expanding the scope of traditional portraiture, Jones redefines and re-imagines the historical narrative, and through this creating a place for women within the Welsh visual story. The paintings take on an additional layer of importance and meaning when shown in the context of Ceredigion Museum; which houses a large collection of items representing the culture and history of the county. The collection is home to many items that have been donated by women, but we too often don’t have the narrative of those women’s lives. Jones used the Ceredigion Museum collection of welsh costume as research for her paintings depicting women in welsh traditional garb; the women largely remain nameless and faceless in our displays and yet here, in Jones’ work those women’s histories are now brought to life.

The portraits are powerful and direct; the eyes gaze unswerving to create an utterly distraction-free moment between viewer and painting which seeks to challenge and question. The portraits are imagined and shaped from stories and photographs of women rather than actual bygone figures. In the creation of these false portraits, in a style that references that of the tradition of Welsh Masters; Jones places her and the women whom she is portraying within this cultural narrative.

Of her work, Jones says: “I create an alternative image of Welsh women to counter the representation often seen in tourist shops. Some would argue that this is the only ubiquitous presence of women from Wales’ past. It is important that the viewer can relate to these women and for this they must seem to have once lived.”

Join Ceredigion Museum for the official opening of the exhibition on 27 January at 2pm. The exhibition will be opened by the renowned artist William Wilkins.

The exhibition is a partnership project with TEN gallery Cardiff and will run from 20 January until 16 April 2018 at Ceredigion Museum. For more information please contact Assistant Curator Alice Briggs, alice.briggs@ceredigion.gov.uk or 01970633086.

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Four arrested as man remains in ‘critical condition’

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FOUR men have been arrested after a man was hospitalised in the early hours of Sunday morning (Jan 14).

19-year-old Ifan Richards Owen is in hospital in critical condition after the attack.

The incident took place in High Street, Aberystwyth, at approximately 2:20am.

Four men, aged 19, 20, 23 and 25 have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent.

They are in police custody.

Police are now appealing for witnesses to contact them as a matter of urgency.

DCI Anthony Evans, of Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “We are issuing a fresh appeal for witnesses to the assault on Ifan Richards Owens, aged 19, which occurred on High Street, Aberystwyth at around 2.20am on Sunday, January 14.

“In particular we would like to speak to anyone who gave first aid to Mr Owens before emergency services arrived.

“Mr Owens remains in hospital in a critical condition.

“We would urge anyone with any information that could assist in our investigation any witnesses to the incident or anyone who may have any CCTV or video footage of the incident to contact police on 101, quoting incident number 402 of January 14. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

“Four men, aged 25, 23, 20 and 19, have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent and remain in police custody at this time.”

Ifan’s family said in a statement:  “Ifan is a kind and gentle person, and we have been overwhelmed with messages of support from family, friends, as well as Ifan’s school friends, teachers, university friends, and sports teams, who are all sending their best wishes for Ifan, who is desperately ill following this incident in Aberystwyth.

“Ifan’s only choice for university was Aberystwyth, he had no interest in any other university and absolutely loves the town. He plays football and rugby for the Geltaidd Football and Rugby Clubs and is enjoying his second year studying Criminology at Aberystwyth University.”

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