top of page


The Landscapes, The Environment, The Industries, The Workers, The Community, are just some of The Forces That Shape Our Communities, not only in the past, but now & in the future.

The Swansea Valley & the area surrounding the Craig-Y-Nos, country park, was based on farming & industry; carving out the landscape we see today, transforming the communities who live & work there. Recent events, such as increase in tourism, Covid, climate change, furloughing, working from home, have transformed todays working environment, as well as resulting in mental health, work & community issues.

The Forces That Shape Our Communities is a 3 year Heritage Funded project based at Craig-y-Nos & the Swansea Valley, looking at old industrial work places, & the history of the workers’ home lives & work conditions; the skills they had, the materials & plants they used, the effect their work had on the landscape. ​This project aims to support & encourage the reopening/development of community projects & centres, enrich the tourist experience by developing genuine engagement with the landscape, enable individuals to think creatively & acquire skills & qualifications.

Some of the old quarries, limestone kilns, & other heritage sites risk becoming overgrown & unidentified. There is a danger of memories fading & being lost, old skills being neglected & no longer used. Recollections & records of those whose ancestors worked at Craig-y-nos in the time of the opera singer, Adelina Patti, together with the staff at the house & its subsequent use as a tuberculosis hospital risk being forgotten; as also are the old uses of plants & fibres. The workers who dug the coal in the Ystradgynlais area, that kickstarted the Industrial Revolution - who were they? what dialects did they introduce? where did they go?

Big Skill is all about finding a way to help people manage changes in a spirit of reciprosity, enabling participants to come together, post-covid, in accessible, free, coffee & chat sessions, at local communities centres & outdoors, where everyone’s abilities & contributions are valued. Big Skill’s motivation is in Community Building, everyone needs to feel, or learn to realise that, they have something to offer in order to truly engage. Our Workshops revolve around skill sharing, exchanging ideas & support between everyone: teachers, learners & our host organisations or venues alike. This is how a thriving community functions. Everything is made available at no cost to our participants & therefore open to all. We work with the often vulnerable in our society: those with disabilities, people with mental health, the lonely & isolated - boosting well-being & promoting positive interaction, as well as environmental understanding through recycling skills & traditional crafts. We have a team of skilled, experienced, adaptable practitioners who provide accessible, hands-on craft & rural skills activities. Join us & show pride in your heritage as you:-

Step out on the geology and history, droving, forgotten plants, walks.

Research & capture the history surrounding world-famous opera singer Adelina Patti at the castle & her creation the gardens/country park. Then how lives changed, when the castle became a TB hospital.

Record your memories or those of your forbears with our video recordings & drawing, painting, writing, photography workshops.

Gain a qualification with one of our willow, glass, painting, recycling accredited courses.

Show & share your creative flare with our wide-ranging craft & chat workshops.

Work in wood in the park with the hedge-laying, charcoal making, wood product sessions.

Plan & create in clay, & install in the woodlands at Craig-y-Nos country park engaging & informative, durable, contemporary artworks. See how your creativity can be interwoven into the work of others & take on & bring new life in different contexts.

The Forces That Shape Our Communities (1).jpg
bottom of page