Rosie Couch and Josie Cray celebrate one year of hosting the Wales Arts Review podcast with a look back at their top 5 most listened to episodes and a thanks to the contributors and listeners who have made the podcast possible.
Episode 25 marked one year of hosting the Wales Arts Review podcast. It’s hard to believe that a year has passed already! We’ve had so much fun interviewing our brilliant guests and discussing the fantastic articles written for Wales Arts Review. In this episode we take you through our top 5 most listened to episodes, sharing some behind-the-scenes stories and reflect on interviews that have truly inspired us.
- Episode 17: The Story of Welsh Art, Exhibition as Protest, and Environmental Legacies
In this episode we spoke to Huw Stephens—BBC Radio Wales presenter—and director Ian Jones about the BBC series ‘The Story of Welsh Art’. The series explores the rich history of visual arts in Wales, beginning in the Neolithic period and examining key periods and forms which have shaped Wales’s artistic legacy. We asked Huw and Ian about Welsh art on an international scale, about the richness of Welsh art, and ask why it is so important we get this story now. In the second segment we discussed Rachel Mainwaring’s article ‘Ways of Protest | Exhibition’ and Mary Ann Steeples’ profile of Canadian artist Michelle Wilson in her piece ‘Michelle Wilson: Cleansing the Land’, thinking about environmental legacies and art as protest.
- Episode 3: 100 Page Turners of Wales, Coming of Age, and Spectacular Girls
In this episode we interview Dr Emma Schofield about the 100 Page Turners of Wales series, coming of age, and tensions regarding categorisation. This kicked off our ‘100 Page Turners of Wales’ segment which saw us discuss two books from each category every fortnight. We also discussed coming of age and girlhood, with reference to Clémentine Schneidermann and Charlotte James’ photography project ‘It’s Called Ffasiwn’, and Durre Shahwar’s literary vignette ‘The Girl’. Finally, we talked about the future of the arts in Wales, especially in light of the global pandemic.
- Episode 1: Black Lives Matter, Newport Race Riots, and Writing in Lockdown
In this episode we discussed two brilliant articles written for Wales Arts Review. In the first section, we talked about Shaheen Sutton’s ‘Remembering the Newport Race Riots of 1919’ in relation to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests. In the second section of the episode, we chatted with Natalie Ann Holborow about her article ‘When a Room of One’s Own Alone Won’t Cut It’, written for the When this is Over: Essays for a World Without Masks series. Head back to the episode for conversation around creative communities, the fallacy literary genius, and domestic labour.
- Episode 14: How Love, Actually Ruined Christmas, Festive Favourites, and Many, Many Bloopers
In this Christmas special, we spoke to Gary Raymond, editor of Wales Arts Review, critic, novelist and broadcaster, about his new book, ‘How Love Actually Ruined Christmas (or Colourful Narcotics)’. We talked about the film, publishing during a pandemic, and what elements make up a Christmas film. In the second segment, we were joined by friends of the podcast and contributors to Wales Arts Review for conversations about all things festive—from Christmas comfort films to most hated festive foods. We also caught up with the final 100 Page Turners of Wales category, Crime and Conflict, before giving you an unfortunate glimpse behind the scenes of our podcast recording process with a bumper blooper reel.
- Episode 13: Adaptations: Jane Austen, The Queen’s Gambit, and Questions of Fidelity
In this episode, we were interested in exploring adaptation, from process and contexts to questions of fidelity. We spoke to Siân Owen about her adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for Audible, her career to date, and the benefits of audio books. Next, we discussed Carolyn Percy’s ‘In Defence of Adaptations’ and Gary Raymond’s review of the hit Netflix series ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ considering the limits of adaptation and when it might be okay to move away from source material.
Across the year we interviewed a range of wonderful guests, all involved in some exciting creative project in or about Wales. Whilst not in our top 5 listened to episodes, there were two interviews that we kept thinking about, inspired by their messages:
Episode 8: Interview with Christina Thatcher, Grieving, Death and Creativity
In this episode we interviewed poet and lecturer, Dr Christina Thatcher. We discussed definitions of grief, the interlinking of death and creativity, and how ideas around grief and loss might intersect with broader experiences of living amongst Covid-19. Continuing with our theme of death and creativity, our second segment focused on two pieces from the Wales Arts Review archive: Nasia Sarwar-Skuse’s ‘Vignette: Snapshot of Grief’ and Rosie Couch’s ‘Eulogy for a New World’, thinking about mothers, anxieties around forgetting, and the timelessness of grief. What could have been an episode many found heavy, it was exciting to hear from listeners on Twitter that this episode helped them reflect on their own recent grief.
WAR Podcast: Betty Campbell, Hidden Heroine, and Race in Wales
In this bonus episode, we spoke to Elaine Clarke, the daughter of Betty Campbell, the first Black headteacher in Wales. Elaine told us about the Hidden Heroines project which recognised women’s contribution to the community in Wales, and shared stories about her mother and her life, giving back to the community and advocating for people of colour in Butetown and beyond.
We’ve loved seeing how many people listen to the podcast each episode and love hearing from listeners on social media. We’ve also enjoyed finding out more about all of the fantastic projects, communities, initiatives and exhibitions in Wales, and we hope you have too! Our aim in the coming year is to be able to pay our guests for their time on the podcast. All of our guests have been kind enough to take time out of their busy days to sit down and chat to us. Many of our interviewees are students, and as students ourselves we are well aware of the pervasiveness and unfairness of unpaid labour. This is why we are asking you to support us in paying future guests for their time. You can head to our Ko-fi page here or find it in our Twitter bio. The minimum donation is £3 and all money goes to us (the platform doesn’t take a cut). Give what you can, if you can!
Finally, we’d like to extend a huge thank you to Gary for his support, our guests for their insightful interviews, to Wales Arts Review’s contributors who have given us such brilliant content to discuss, and, of course, to our lovely listeners. We can’t wait to get back to hosting the podcast in August! In the meantime, if you have an event or project that you’d like to discuss with us on an upcoming episode or that you’d like us to highlight in a future ‘What’s on, Wales?’ segment, get in touch with us on Twitter or send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diolch yn fawr iawn!
Josie & Rosie