A note about the Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit
from founder James Roose-Evans memoir Blue Remembered Hills:
In 1983 came the opportunity to buy Bleddfa village school, which had been closed by the local authority. With its closure the village seemed to have died: parents no longer gathered to deliver or collect their children or gossip in the little shop. I was determined, therefore, that it should remain a public building, drawing people to the community, and not be converted into a bungalow. I sat down to write hundreds ot letter and having raised £15,000 I was able to purchase the school for the Bleddfa Trust. Then, aided by various grants, the building was converted into a gallery, tea rooms and shop, with a landscaped garden made possible by a grant from the Prince of Wales Trust, and the building was opened as the official Centre for Caring and the Arts by the Marchioness of Anglesey.
A few years later some adjoining land and two tumbledown barns and an orchard came on the market. Thanks to three individuals in particular: Cynthia Charlesworth, Wendy Hall and Marie Mathias, as well as a grant from the Foundation for Sports and the Arts, which Dr Miriam Stoppard secured for us, Bleddfa now has a handsome shaker-like Barn Centre, and small meditation chapel, built around a central courtyard with a fountain.
To mark the millennium, £30,000 was raised to commission a statue of Tobias and the Angel by the Irish sculptor Ken Thompson, which was unveiled by Dr Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Wales and the Centre’s chief patron. The Bleddfa annual lecture was also inaugurated, with its first speakers including Neil McGregor, Peter Maxwell Davies, Jonathan Porritt, Melvyn Bragg, Libby Purves and Mark Tully.
In all the ebb and flow of fortunes that the Bleddfa Centre for the Creative Spirit (as it is now named) has experienced since 1974, it has continued to explore the relationship between art and life, between the creative and the spiritual. For I believe that the majority of people possess, no matter how unused, real creative and imaginative faculties, so that the question is less one of educating people to appreciate the fine arts than of providing facilities and an environment in which they can explore and express their own creativity.
In the Barn Centre are some words by the Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, painted on the wood by the calligrapher John Hencher:
"The poem, the song, the picture
Is only water
Drawn from the well of the people
And it should be given back to them in a cup of beauty
So that they may drink
And in drinking
These words sum up for me what the Centre represents. I believe that every aspect of one’s life, from washing dishes, preparing a meal, digging in the garden, collecting a child from school, or helping a neighbour, can be an opportunity for being creative, for creativity is simply making something with love, and this can be expressed in so many ways. Life itself is the greatest of all arts.