Sunday, 1 July 2012

Antonia Dewhurst - Ty Unnos

Antonia Dewhurst - Gimme Shelter - seen here
I am really looking forward to Antonia Dewhurst's forthcoming Test Bed project at Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown. Antonia's series of shelters, Gimme Shelter which were made as part of her degree work at Coleg Menai, Bangor in 2010/11 have led her to undertake the creation of a Ty Unnos dwelling in the parkland alongside Oriel Davies on the night of 19/20 July 2012.

"The tradition of the Ty Unnos (One Night House) was established in Wales around the end of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century when  over 5000 Enclosure Acts were passed. This resulted in common land being passed into the hands of landowners. In response to the resulting homelessness and poverty there was a rise in the tradition of the Ty Unnos.

Thought to date back to Hywel Dda, but never enshrined in law, this tradition stated that if a house could be built between sunset and sunrise and have smoke rising from its chimney at dawn, then the builder could keep the house and the land as far as a hammer or axe could be thrown from each of the quarters.

Materials would be collected secretly over several months and all the builder's friends and family would be involved on the night. Often the only clue the landowner's agent would find was that the local carpenter was making a door for someone. However, the house was often pretty primitive and the 'door' might be a woven hazel screen, the walls of cut peat, the roof thatched with gorse or whatever was to hand. The chimney too might be of woven hazel or willow and these house-names persist today e.g. Corn Helyg, Willow Chimney.

Once the house-builder's title was established they could amass more permanent building materials and replace the original building with a more substantial dwelling and these too persist into the present day in the house-name Ty Newydd - the new house."

Antonia Dewhurst - Materials for Ty Unnos - Courtesy of Antonia Dewhurst


In keeping with the tradition, Antonia has been collecting her materials over the last couple of months and is getting ready to undertake the building of her dwelling overnight on 19/20 July.

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