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Atgofion, 2023

Sadly, Welsh is my second language and is one that is constantly waxing and waning in my memory. This isn’t due solely to choice, I just grew up in an area of Wales that is predominantly English speaking.

The problem with language for me is it is a case of ‘use it or lose it’. This is a dichotomy that means it is even more important to speak your home country’s language, but when you don’t have those around you to do that with it also means a weakened ability to do so.

This work is about that paradox. Over three days I read and then tried to recall the poem ‘Atgo’ by Hedd Wyn in three sessions each with five attempts. This is a poem recited by primary school aged children across Wales and as can be seen it was a struggle to become fluent with it in written form, even though it is short and has very few words.

To add a layer reflecting on how language is an acquired skill I then took the text and for the first time in my life manually typeset and printed it using the letterpress process at @caernarfontownpress. Each mistake of the letterpress process has been annotated in pencil and the resulting proofs have become the final work.

Five proofs per day over three days, each set of five proofs held up to the light for comparison on progress made.

I hope this work shows up the fragility and intricacy of learning and memory both through the stuttering attempts at recollection and then the confused results of an apprentice letterpress user trying to adhere to replicating those stutters with accuracy.

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