A FREELANCE artist from Eastbourne was inspired to learn Welsh after spending time working at the Venice Biennale contemporary art exhibition as part of the Wales in Venice project in 2019.

Heledd Evans 25, who studied Fine Art at Cardiff Metropolitan University, met Welsh-speaking friends who encouraged her to start learning Cymraeg.

Heledd, who has family connections in Llandysul and has always felt proud of her Welsh roots, signed up for an online course with Learn Welsh Cardiff, run by Cardiff University on behalf of the National Centre for Learning Welsh.

Heledd loves her online lessons and the way in which the Welsh language and culture influences her artwork: “I’m really interested in Welsh music, specifically folk songs and the link between music and poetry in Welsh history,” she said.

“I made an installation a few years ago based on the song ‘Dafydd y Garreg Wen’ as I loved the melody and the story behind the song.

“I’ve been doing more composing recently and would love to set some Welsh poems or text pieces to music one day.”

Accordiing to tradition the harp player David Owen composed the tune on his deathbed, in 1741, as he called for his harp aged just 29. The words were added by the poet John Ceiriog Hughes more than 100 years later.

Heledd has enjoyed using her Welsh outside the classroom too.

Earlier this year she worked at the Winter of Wellbeing project with the National Museum Wales and the Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales.

From September onwards, the National Centre for Learning Welsh will be offering free Welsh courses for 18-25 year olds. Heledd welcomes the new initiative.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea. Offering free lessons removes any financial barrier and will enable many young people to give the lessons a go.

“The free lessons will also benefit those who are looking for new work opportunities as well.”

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Sharon Lovell, chief executive of Wales National Youth Advocacy Service, is also chair of the new Youth Work Strategy Implementation Board, which aims to increase opportunities for young people in Wales.

“As we celebrate Youth Work Week, we’re delighted to share Heledd’s story,” she said.

“Learning new skills such as Welsh, can help build confidence, which is especially important for young people.”

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