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The shepherds will be singing as exhibition heads for Dinas Mawddwy

An exhibition inspired by woollen fishermen’s sweaters made in the Netherlands a century ago arrives in Mid Wales on February 10 when it opens at Meirion Mill in Dinas Mawddwy, near Machynlleth.

The Erfskip Exhibition will feature wool and associated crafts from Wales, Shetland, the Hebrides, the Aran Islands and elsewhere, archive film and visual arts, young people’s workshop productions, photographs and more.

Between February 10 and March 24, the exhibition will be centred on Meirion Mill and Ysgol Bro Idris, Dolgellau, with elements also taking place in Cemaes, Trawsfynydd, Aberystwyth and Caersws. 

This exhibition story begins in a small coastal village called Moddergat, in the north of Frŷslan, Netherlands. A fishing and farming community began to research and then to re-create the woollen fishermen’s garments that used to be made there a century ago. 

Farmers bred the sheep and sheared them, others carded, dyed and spun the wool and many people became involved in the knitting.

Old photographs and written records were dug up and, in a few years, a successful small community business was developing, making and selling warm, beautiful and natural jumpers modelled on those the Moddergat fisherman set out to sea in more than a century ago.

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Excited by what they’d achieved, the community then created an exhibition, demonstrating and contextualising the work. It was so popular that it was decided to take exhibition on tour to other shepherd communities, firstly to Wales and then on to other farming and fishing cultures across Western Europe. 

It has already been to Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, to Shetland Woollen Week and to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. It’s an exhibition with a difference – in at least three ways.  

Firstlyl, it’s growing as it goes – wherever it stops, each community adds in elements from its own culture and experiences, so everybody can enjoy and learn from the achievements of others.  

Secondly, wherever it goes, the hosts use it as a focus for their own interests and concerns, building events, discussions and workshops around it. 

Lastly, it’s making this journey fuelled only by enthusiasm, energy and excitement. The organisers haven’t asked for a penny of public money to finance its travel, its display costs or anything else. 

A Mid Wales visitor attraction, Meirion Mill specialises in a range of products, from clothing to soft furnishings and home wares.

The business is a member of MWT Cymru, an organisation that represents around 600 tourism and hospitality businesses across Powys, Ceredigion and Southern Snowdonia.