Although I've been including a short line about my involvement in a public art project at Morriston Hospital in my bio notes for the last year or so, I've been reluctant to disclose anything further for fear that the project might not actually happen. Not because our facilitators, Artinsite, have given any indication that the project has ever been in doubt, but just because it's a pretty big deal to see your words committed to anything other than paper, and I didn't want to jinx it.
However, over the weekend, Artinsite forwarded some images of our poetry benches being installed the atrium of one of Morriston Hospital's new buildings. They exist. Unfortunately, the building has suffered an unrelated setback and now won't open until next spring – but our benches now sit awaiting cheeks, having navigated their way through the all the potential hiccups of the pre-production and production stages.
The project began back in August 2012, when Nigel Jenkins received a commission to create verses as part of Morriston Hospital’s multimillion-pound rebuilding project. Characteristically, Nigel shared this commission with three other poets: Menna Elfyn, Dave Hughes and me. Sadly, the four of us never got to meet up, as Nigel became very ill just a short year later. He passed away in January 2014, and is sorely missed. A short poem, written by Menna, will be carved into wood and unveiled at the same time as the poetry benches, serving as a permanent tribute to the man who brought the rest of us together.
The designs for the benches were created by David Jones, an artist based in Beaumaris, Anglesey, and then manufactured by J&E Woodworks of Lampeter. Here’s my bench, with a translation from the original English into Welsh by Menna Elfyn (something which, for me, is a thrill in itself):