Thursday 19th November to Sunday 29th November
Leeds Central Library Art Space, Calverley Street, Leeds, LS1 3AB
I attended the opening of Dreams of Milk Wood on Wednesday 18 November on behalf of Leeds Older People’s Forum.
Buffalo and Purple Patch Arts have brought a multi-sensory art installation, inspired by Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, to the art space in Leeds Central Library.
Under Milk Wood was Dylan Thomas’ BBC-commissioned radio drama that took him almost 20 years to finish but went on to critical acclaim and was adapted for the stage and screen after his death.
The play explores the secret hopes and dreams of the parochial inhabitants of Llareggub – “bugger all” read backwards – a fictional fishing village based on Laugharne in Carmarthenshire where Thomas once lived and is now buried.
Dreams of Milk Wood, which revolves around Dylan Thomas’ writing shed as it was at the Boathouse in Laugharne, is fully accessible to audiences with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD).
Visitors are invited to taste the sea, or engage their other senses, as they interact with the poet’s creative space and explore the surrounding audiovisual echoes of his work.
This is an innovative and ambitious project and it’s great to see an example of how people with PMLD can fully participate in, engage with and experience the arts.
I wonder what the poet would make of all this? He’d probably be delighted but think it quite mad that people would go to such lengths to potter about in his writing shed and hope they didn’t take it too seriously.
It’s a real challenge to translate the work of Dylan Thomas into visual art and, given the bawdiness of the play and the mischievousness of the poet, it’s perhaps too reverential.
As Dylan Thomas said in a letter to Henry Treece in 1938, “I ask only that my poetry should be taken literally. The aim of a poem is the mark that the poem itself makes: it’s the bullet and the bullseye; the knife, the growth, and the patient. A poem moves only towards its own end, which is the last line.”
Dreams of Milk Wood is on until 29 November.
For more information visit: www.dreamsofmilkwood.com
Originally published by Leeds Older People’s Forum