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Beyond the Border Wales International Storytelling Festival 2016

July 7, 2016

Last weekend (1-3 July 2016) saw the biennial Beyond the Border – Wales International Storytelling Festival. The Festival was held, once again, at United World Colleges Atlantic College, St. Donats in the Vale of Glamorgan, some 25 miles to the West of Cardiff. St. Donat’s Castle is a medieval castle (c1300) which has developed and grown over the centuries. It was purchased in 1925 by the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hurst who spent a fortune renovating and revitalising the buildings. After Hurst’s death the castle was bought in 1962 by Monsieur Antonin Besse II who then gave it to the Governing body of Atlantic College.

The Beyond the Border Storytelling Festival brings together storytellers and musicians from all over the world to this idyllic spot every two years. A wonderful and vibrant three-day festival of storytelling and music.

The Festival was spread out among the gardens and terraces and through the woods and fields that make up the grounds of Atlantic College. The first drawing (pen and water colour) shows the Big Top and Einion’s Forge with the St. Donat’s Bay, the Bristol Channel and the English coastline beyond.


One of the terraces is named the Blue Garden for the duration of the Festival. Here I sat in the sunshine and listened to storytellers Jez Danks and Dafydd Davies Hughes tell wonderful and humorous tales through the mediums of both Welsh and English. Here I have drawn, with graphite pencil and watercolour wash, Dafydd Davies Hughes.

blue garden-web

There are two iron work statues in the grounds. They are by sculpture Nadim Karam and from a series entitled ‘Stretching Thoughts’.


After climbing down flights of stone stairs, across the terraces and through the gardens you reach the Jousting Field. A long narrow tree lined avenue of a field that, at one end, houses the St. Donat’s Church. I drew this picture with Pitt pen and watercolour whilst watching The Smallest Theatre in The World – with room inside for 2 – performing their version of King Kong. Very funny and clever performance.


At the other end of the Jousting Field, after walking past the ‘kid zone’ where children and adults alike try to juggle, spin plates on sticks and walk on stilts, past the making tent where lanterns are made in preparation for the final torchlight procession, past the performers of Circus Raj (all the way from India), past the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) beer tent and all sorts of tents serving delicious food from around the world, you come to the Storytelling Café. Next to the café I sat outside The Greatest Little Coffee Box, a charming outdoor coffee shop cunningly fashioned from an old horse box, drinking some fine fresh coffee and drawing this picture using the coffee itself as the wash.

coffee box-web

The last few pictures are ones I drew that were inspired by the stories I was listening to.

giants-web Beowulf-web beard-web

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