Using the Mabinogion to explore flooding reality

Group of primary school pupils designing the mythical Afanc, Conwy
Published : 04 Oct 2017 Last update : 14 Dec 2017

Through a fusion of art, myth and environmentalism we teamed up with Pigtown Theatre to offer school workshops and community sessions exploring flooding through the eyes of mythical Mabinogion creature, Yr Afanc.

Tying in with Visit Wales’ Year of Legends we celebrated the fascinating tale of Yr Afanc, which is a story about a mythical creature who made its home in Afon Conwy. According to the legend, local flooding events and disruption to farmers’ crops and livestock were thought to be linked to Yr Afanc’s bad mood.

Ranger, Robert Parkinson said, “As part of this programme we've been visiting local schools and using the legend to explore the question – How can we keep Yr Afanc happy today?”

Over 300 pupils were encouraged to think about what makes a habitat healthy and how healthy habitats upstream, such as bog on the Migneint might affect creatures such as Yr Afanc, people and wildlife downstream. 

Activities also included designing Yr Afanc from various animal body parts adapted specifically for the habitat and story. 

Primary school pupils interpretation of Yr Afanc
Primary school pupils holding up their Afanc design

Robert Parkinson added, “Yr Afanc has been a great metaphor for discussing local flooding and it’s a nice way to celebrate our Welsh heritage as well.”

Yr Afanc rap film

In addition to the school sessions we held a community day at Conwy where we enlisted the help of legendary local rapper, Mr Phormula who worked with local children and families to create a special rap film about Yr Afanc, which can be viewed below. 

Creating Afanc's of all shapes and sizes

As part of the community day families also helped build a 6 meter long Afanc from willow and plastic with local artist Ben Dafis. Children also got the opportunity to create smaller Afanc models from clay to take home.  

Making mini Afanc's from clay
Children make mini mythical Afanc's from clay

A beast of a Feast 

The giant Afanc was showcased on our stand at Conwy Feast, a two day food festival that attracts thousands of people. 

The team asked people what the Afon Conwy means to them and explained steps we've been taking, in partnership with Natural Resource Wales, to improve the water quality and retention at the source of the Afon Conwy on the Migneint helping to slow the flow and reduce the risk of flooding downstream in the Conwy Valley.