Legends brought to life in arts project for fringe festival's online celebrations

Massive Heedz project

Historical, mythical and living legends of Llangollen  will be celebrated in a unique art project as part of the town’s Fringe celebrations helmed by Glyndwr University staff and students.

The Massive Heedz project was initially conceived as a live-action spectacle by Ali Roscoe, Lecturer in Fine Art at Wrexham Glyndwr University, and Alec Shepley, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Science and Technology.  The project would have taken part as part of the annual Llangollen Fringe celebrations, which begin this year on July 17.

However, as the coronavirus pandemic put events on hold across the country, a decision was taken by the Fringe to adapt this year’s event to become a festival people could take part in online – which saw some major changes to the Heedz project.

Chris Stone, a member of the Fringe organising team, explained: “There was a big plan for this year’s project where we would be developing ‘Massive Heedz’ for people to wear and there would have been a parade through the streets.

“However, for obvious reasons, that has now had to go online – like much of the Fringe.”

The change to the Fringe’s plans came as preparations were underway for its 24th season – which would see, as ever, a mix of arts, music, theatre, comedy, storytelling and much more.

Public health restrictions meant that much of the original planned programme could not continue in the usual fashion.

However, as Chris added: “A lot of things are still going ahead - just in a different way.

“For instance, there has always been a  storytelling aspect and people will still be getting together and telling stories at three High and Mighty tall tales events online – they don’t even have to climb Dinas Bran like they have done in the past!

“There’s a comedy session produced by one of our local comedians, who does a lot with the comedy club at the Town Hall, Silkie, and a fellow comedian called David Eagle – that will be great.

“There is a circus skills session with my daughter, who lives in Llanberis – she is doing a short online session where people can take part, and get told beforehand a few simple items they should be able to gather together online for the session.

“There’s a band for the day session, which brings together individuals who are not in groups and get them to play as part of a wider band. Again, that’s being put together online, and it’s going to be really good.

“Plus, of course, there’s the Massive Heedz project.”

For this project, participants are being invited to consider ‘Legends of Llangollen’ to be celebrated in art

Chris added: “They could be historical legends of the town, or they could even be living legends – someone in Llangollen right now who should be celebrated.

“People then create a portrait of that person’s face or head. This could be a very simple thing, or very detailed – it entirely depends on how the artist feels and we don’t require people to be highly trained artists for this – everyone is welcome and the main thing is for people to have fun!

“They then send us through a full-body image of themselves somewhere interesting as well as their portrait of their legend as a separate picture, and a short paragraph explaining their choice. These are combined and we are going to create an online Massive Heedz portrait gallery!”

Ali Roscoe, Lecturer in Fine Art at Wrexham Glyndwr University, said: “The plan for the portait gallery is to bring together the images sent in to create these legendary characters – however they are legendary to the creators themselves - enlarging the ‘heedz’ of course.

“Next, with the help of our Fine Art students, my fellow lecturer Paul Jones and artists’ collective Datamosh, they will be transformed into an animation.

“This project is now one of two parts - with the second part planned to take place next year  in what would have been the original intended brief, which will see us actually make Massive Heedz for people.

“When that happens, our Fine Art students will collaborate and help to make
the Massive Heads alongside students from Ysgol Dinas Bran and their teacher, Ali McDonald.

“And hopefully, during the Llangollen Fringe Festival 2021 the Massive Heedz will appear in a celebratory opening parade!”

Anne Hill – a BA Fine Art student at Wrexham Glyndwr University – is among those who have been helping to bring the project to life.
She added: “Having been involved with the Fringe through Wrexham Glyndwr over the past two years, I was keen to continue my links with my fellow artists in these projects.

“This year has been different, but having adapted to using social media to share my degree show, this feels like an extension of that concept and hopefully next year we will get to show our Massive Heedz for real!

“Last year, as well as helping the pupils at Ysgol Dinas Bran produce artwork for the Fringe, I was storyteller, sharing the information about the Legend of St Collen. And so my Massive Heed, Bras, is one of the colourful characters from
the Legend.

“Some of us have been creating physical examples to show what is possible for the future - although we are now asking others to just design Heedz.”

Chris added: “It has been good working with Glyndwr – both Ali and Alec have been very helpful, and Ali brings everything together with a  light touch.

“I think it’s very good to have students from the school taking part – you have the links between the school, the university and the things happening in Llangollen town centre through the fringe.

“I also like the range of students Glyndwr brings to project, of all ages – it shows you can develop through life!

“By working with Glyndwr, we are developing those links both with Wrexham and with the various towns and cities the students at Glyndwr have come from – it all helps to link Llangollen and our events to the wider world.”

The Llangollen Massive Heedz project can be found on Instagram at llangollenmassiveheedz.