We were invited to participate in Zenfest, organized by Caerphilly County Council Borough, at events held at Markham Sports Hall & Risca Library. Both located in the Welsh valleys and both new new to hosting mobile exhibitions. They offered unique insights and learning into community engagement. One of our passions.
The audeince thoroughly enjoyed themselves in the Virtual Reality (VR) we offered. We brought headsets loaded with cultural VR experiences that we have developed ourselves, all secured behind a safeguarding interface. We had loads of young adults, and some adults, fully immersed.
In Markham, just outside Blackwood, an isolated area of the Rhymney Valley, attendees could also enjoy face painting, clay crafts, drawing, a clown performance, a trapeze act, a ventriloquist and even a silent disco. Superb. What more could children ask for on a wet half term day!
A similar array of participatory art activities were available at Risca Library. The library itself is a welcoming space within a modern building, set behind the original façade of the Risca Palace Cinema.
The response to our virtual reality offerings was exceptional, particularly among teenagers. We managed to entice a few parents and even one senior citizen to give it a try. Attendees were given the option to explore the Welsh Drift Mine, The Welsh Fossil Room, or the Lamp Room (all self developed). When the adults realized that the virtual reality experiences were not intense games, but rather user-friendly interactive cultural journeys, they eagerly joined in. The teenagers, many of whom were using VR for the first time, kept coming back for more – some even wanted a fourth go! –
Many thanks to David Chamberlain and Jordan Forse of Caerphilly Arts and Heritage Services. – ends