Sut dach chi’n ymwneud â syniad o ‘ferched chwarel’ (os o gwbl)?

How do you relate to the idea of 'quarry women' (if at all)?

As part of our research and development for Merched Chwarel, we asked women (local, incomer and visitors) what they thought of the idea of Merched Chwarel... The answers are really interesting! Here they are, together with images we were given that illustrated the responder's personal connection to the quarries...
The answers suggest there is plenty to explore further here!

We would love to hear your views! If you have 10 minutes to spare, we'd be delighted if you could fill in a short questionnaire:

Llun gan Linda John

Llun gan Linda John

"I became aware of ‘quarry women’ in the 1970’s through the repeated hearing of a family tale of "Auntie Catrin" who was a strong woman, and wife and mother of men travelling on foot from Anglesey to Diniorwig to earn income in the quarries. The men didn’t figure in the tale."

"I grew up on one side of the quarry mountain, and so did my mother, on the other side of the mountain. She worked closely with the quarry as clerk of the town council, and would have regular meetings in the quarry with the manager in a striking Victorian building with a huge oak oval table, where I used to visit too."

"Curiosity – admirations for living hard lives"

"Cyffrous o syniad, maes enfawr i ddarganfod" [ Exciting idea, huge area to explore]

"I think it is an excellent idea to bring together women to explore their emotional and artistic connection to quarries, also to research women’s involvement – a group to bring together a larger groups’ ideas and feelings"

"Not at all"

"There weren't any! But I guess that's where the art comes in?"

"Women were the backbone, 50% of any community/v interested in herstory and the connection between rural/emerging industrial connections and what it would have been like to try to provide/childcare... "

"Mae'n bwysig canolbwyntio ar y rhan fawr bod y gwragedd wedi wneud" [ it's important to focus on the large part the women played]

"The life of the 'quarry women' needs to be told".


Llun: Jwls Williams

Llun: Jwls Williams

"Mae lle i ferched yn y felin, ond yn amheus am iddynt weithio o dan ddaear - sexist neu beth?”

“Dim ond yn ddiweddar y dysgais fod merched wedi gweithio mewn chwareli. Ar y cyrion roedd gwragedd, mamau, chwiorydd, modrybedd a reiniau yn cynnal y chwarelwyr. Mae’n ofynnol i ygrifennu Llyfr amdanynt!

"My idea of quarry woman came about when I began to critically question my affinity and purpose in choosing Penmaenmawr Quarry as a focus of my artwork. I was intrigued that I had never questioned myself -what I was doing? exploring through paint, drawing and film –this place – this mountain that has physically changed shape by the action of men. Why had I never thought about it in this way? These places have never felt alien to me, I often imagine in the silence what it was like, what sounds, movement – of men. Taid used to bring me here and I created an illustrated book on the history of the quarry when I began studying art at 18 years old. I started to think of myself as a quarry woman. Where there others? What did the women do? did women work in active quarries? and so it began….."

"A quarryman can be understood neatly as a man whose working environment was within the slate industry. The notion of the ‘quarry woman’ conversely is open to debate. One can see a whole raft of support that was provided by women."

"Dwi’n ystyried fy hun fel ‘merch chwarel’ yn rhinwedd fy swydd yn yr Amgueddfa, a hefyd drwy fy nghysylltiadau teuluol."
[I consider myself as a 'quarry woman" in my capacity at the Museum, and also through my family connections.]

"I remember in 1971, Taid’s house, poking an open fire to put the kettle on. An outside toilet. Unbelievable."

cadi pic nid bradwr.jpg

"Pan rwy’n meddwl am y term ‘merched chwarel’, yn bersonol y peth cyntaf sy’n dod I’m mhen ydi – fel nifer o ddiwydiannau eraill – pa mor hanfodol mae merched wedi bod I’r chwareli heb gael eu gweld yn y Chwarel o gwbwl – nhw oedd yn cynnal cartrefi a theuluoedd y chwarelwyr, ac felly yn chwarae rhan hanfodol ym mywyd y Chwarel! Hefyd , gan fy mod yn ymwybodol fod enwau merched wedi’u rhoi ar meintiau llechi ee. Duchesess, Countesses, narrow and wide ladies – rwyf bob tro yn meddwl am lechfaen a llechi fel pethau benywaidd…sydd yn od efallai ?"

[When I think about the term ‘merched chwarel’, personally, the first thing that comes to my head is – like many other industries – how vital women had been to the quarries without being seen in the quarry at all – they were the ones who maintain households and families the quarrymen, and therefore plays a vital role in the life of the quarry! Also, because I am aware that the names of girls have been placed on Slate sizes eg. Duchesess, Countesses, narrow and wide ladies – I always think about a slate and slate as female things ... which is odd perhaps?]


Image by Ruth Boothroyd

Image by Ruth Boothroyd

"I feel like a quarry woman because my life has been shaped by the quarry. It’s part of my daily landscape and soundscape. I feel a particular affinity with the slate tips, broken but supporting life and becoming something new."

chris photo.jpg

"This idea of a quarry woman makes me smile. It seems to me (a person with no connection and little knowledge of the experience of quarry and the community) a bit of a misnomer, simply for the fact that women did not work in the quarry. And yet, they lived around them. They breathed the quarry even. So, in that sense, it would be interesting to find out how living around a quarry shape (physically and mentally) affected a woman's life."

"I like the idea of women claiming this traditionally male space"

"No – I’ve always thought of quarries as a very masculine environment because the way society organized when it was in their hayday (social attitues of victorian times) and partly because legislation – 1860s mines act banned employment of women "

"I am happy to think of myself as a quarry woman."

"As a woman who is very inspired to walk, explore and work creatively with the quarry landscape of today, I relate strongly to being a contemporary visual ‘quarry woman, ’as one who bears witness’ to the role they play in our cultural histories and in my own creative work."

"Dwi’n meddwl am ferched chwarel o lenyddiaeth – y gwragedd a’r merched yn nofelau T.Rowland Hughes a Kate Roberts." [ I think of the quarry women in literature - the women in the novels of T. Rowland Hughes and Kate Roberts]

"Barddoniath: Gan Gwyn Thomas am y Blaenau. Y domen yn sgriliannu yn y glaw, yn ystod y nôs. (yn cofiadol o hynny - wedi byw yn agos, ger y tonnennydd, pan yn plentyn!”


Llun gan Kate Lawrence

Llun gan Kate Lawrence

"I know nothing of women working in the quarries, but they certainly climb."

"The idea of a quarry woman is in my imagination! To some extent I see myself as a quarry woman because I like going there. There is no evidence that women worked in the quarries, but of course they would have been deeply connected to them whilst they were functional, dependent on the labour of husbands to put food on the table, worrying about husbands, sons, etc labouring in dangerous conditions. So I suppose a quarry woman for me is someone who senses the presence of the quarries, who feels the rocks seep under her skin, who hears the sounds of the quarry (the tinkling of quarry waste underfoot, the sounds of the workmens clogs, the whistling wind), who feels the smooth cold slate as a slice taken out of the land. If a quarry man was defined by labour/work, perhaps the idea of a quarry woman provides an opportunity to reframe our relationship with these landscapes of industry in other, perhaps more healthily rather then economically productive terms."

cadi forwarded dragon pic.jpg

“Corn gwaith ar ddiwedd dydd, y chwarelwyr yn cerdded yr un fyddin o’r gwaith a swn eu hesgidiau hoelion yn atsain drwy’r dref a’r plant yn rhedeg i’w cyfarfod gan obeithio fod rhywbeth ar ôl iddynt yn tin bwyd y dynnion”