Cardiff Castle Garrison

The class I’m in at the University of South Wales (USW) where I’m studying Documentary Photography has been tasked with creating individual bodies of work on the subject of ‘Communities’. As a group we have adopted the name Bauta to describe our project as we are documenting Role Play communities. We are diligently producing work for an exhibition scheduled for 16th December at the YMCA in Cardiff.

For my group I have selected the Cardiff Castle Garrison; this group is a Medieval living-history re-enactment society which focuses on the reign of Edward III during the years 1350~1370. Their aim is educate, inspire and entertain members of the public but predominately to maintain authenticity and to reflect this in their costumes and activities. The Garrison group consists of many academics, historians and archaeologists who are able to provide detailed and professional information on how Medieval people lived and worked during this period.

This group has embraced my project and provided me with opportunities to explore my project objectives of documenting how their Role Play activities and passion for authenticity impacts on their contemporary home-life. Several of these totally committed group members have invited me into their homes to experience the hospitality of Medieval life and I’ve even enjoyed a Medieval lunch. I have been utterly astounded by their commitment to honesty and authenticity, which I have found humbling and inspirational for my work as a photographer.

I have had an interest in Living History for many years and have attended, as an observer, many displays, mainly of the English Civil War in Hampshire and Sedgemoor in Somerset. I’ve also taken a personal interest in preserving our history and whilst living in the Somerset village where King Alfred allegedly ‘burnt the cakes’, I obtained funding to clear pathways, replace broken gates, prepare Interpretation Boards and finger boards and where possible used local businesses and volunteer labour. I also produced a walking map and promoted the ‘newly discovered’ historical connections with Alfred the Great.

Working with the Cardiff Castle Garrison over the past few months has opened my eyes to a whole other world of Role Play and Living History and I have immense admiration for this group who keep alive our history and culture.

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