Good morning – I’m delighted to welcome you all to the launch of our Picturing Ponty Project on this lovely spring morning – and we have the Tenovus Sing for Life Choir and conductor Emma Rees to lift our spirits even higher.
Tenovus Sing for Life Choir
What a wonderful way to begin with toe- tapping music to lift our spirits – thank you so much to the Tenovus Sing for Life Choir and conductor Emma Rees. And the words of those songs echoed perfectly the sentiments behind many of these photographs and of the whole project- hope, a second chance, strength, friends, hope and love.
As you can see all around us there has been a fantastic response to Picturing Ponty – 300 photographs of all different kinds – taken by people from age 8 to 80 who’ve created their own individual image of Pontypridd – from Primary school children to Merched y Wawr – the Welsh equivalent of the WI -who adopted the project and used it a catalyst for discussion about our town – one family of 5 went out and took photographs that show how differently parents and children see Pontypridd.
And this aspect of the project is so exciting and revealing. You’ll see pictures of great beauty – natural and man-made – but there are some stark images too – not at all flattering – maybe the person who took the photograph was saying “This is what I want to change about Pontypridd” .
And there are some quirky photographs too – taken from unusual angles, or pointing out things that we see every day and maybe take for granted -how many of us have noticed the clock at the entrance to the Indoor Market? And some photographers have even posed the question -where is this in Pontypridd? Through the lens of a camera the familiar can take on a totally different complexion and become unfamiliar.
For us as a church this venture is something completely new and it’s fascinating because it has so many different levels – as a digital photography project it makes us more aware of the power of photography and who knows it might stimulate us to take even better pictures and engender an interest in other similar projects.
It will give us an interesting and up to date record of current perceptions of what constitutes “our community” from people of all different ages and backgrounds – the professional and the amateur sharing ideas, and sharing their responses to those ideas. This project is not just about the exhibition, the “outcome” – it is about the process where a diverse group of people are making connections with each other and hopefully helping us to see things through other people’s eyes.
This is a real community project – exploring what “Our Community” means to individuals and groups in and around Pontypridd: its needs, its assets, its beauty, its history and what could or should be done to enhance the image of our town and improve the life of the people who live here.
We hope that this event will be a major opportunity for the community of Pontypridd to focus on itself, boost its pride and think about its future. It’s given us as a church a unique opportunity to open wide our doors to the community and to start meeting and talking in a new and meaningful way with the community that this church serves. We want to be at the very heart of the life of our community.
So as you wander and take time to look at these photographs we’d love to know what you think – we’d like you to write your comments and those comments will be put up on our Graffiti Wall – and we’d also like you to vote for the photograph that appeals to you most of all – and at the end of the exhibition in 2 weeks’ time we’ll announce the winner -The People’s Choice – that photograph will then be framed and presented to the photographer and also to our Mayor and to our new minister Phil Wall and to our Patron Rowan Williams .
Read Rowan’s letter – Phil’s video
It’s a great pleasure to see our Town Council Mayor – Cllr Keith Bennett and his wife Gaynor here this morning. Thank you so much for the Town Council’s support – and in a few moments I’ll ask Cllr Bennett to present a very special award.
And I‘d like to thank the United Reformed Church, the Presbyterian Church and the Pontypridd Community Shop for their financial support too.
A project like this doesn’t happen without a great deal of passion, commitment and hard work and there’s been a group of people who have been planning this for over a year – Pam, Fiona, Russell, Cath, James, Ray, Ben and Amber – heartfelt thanks for everything you’ve done – for your time and skills and laughter (I even rang Pam for some information while she was in bath last night!!!) – and then underpinning that group has been the church team – Marcia, Linda and others who’ve taken on tasks to help bring this to fruition.
I’m very proud – as a Pontypridd girl – born here and having spent most of my life here – to be part of a project that has the potential to redefine and rebuild a genuine interest and pride in our town.
So before you look at the photographs and join us for a buffet in the hall -provided by Mike and Helen O’Callahan of O’Callahan’s Coffee Shop in Treforest – I’d like to ask Cllr Keith Bennett to present the award to Coedylan Primary School.
Award to Robert James – Head Teacher of Coed y Lan Primary School
Like many towns all over the country, Pontypridd has experienced its ups and downs – there have been great changes and challenges brought on by unemployment and a down-turn in the economy – but we hope that Picturing Ponty will bring us together, highlight perhaps what needs to be changed but above all, reignite our pride and our love for this town and strengthen our feelings of community and friendship.
This is a People’s Project and we are the people who can make a difference and bring hope for a better future.