Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A cartoonist drew a map of the Rhondda and portraits of all the people he met there

“I’m bonkers about the place," says Siôn Tomos Owen in Pobol y Rhondda

Cartoonist Siôn Tomos Owen took a journey across the Rhondda Valley for a new television series and produced some amazing cartoons along the way.
Pobol y Rhondda sees Siôn, who is from the Rhondda and still lives there today, create a unique map of the area using striking portraits of the people he meets.
The series is part of the Caru’r Cymoedd package of programmes on S4C.
Siôn's unique map of the Rhondda

So, is Rhondda what people imagine?

“The Rhondda is nothing like people think it is. There are no coal mines left here for one thing.,” said Siôn, who was a pupil at Ysgol Gyfun Cymer Rhondda.
"But it is true that we are all absolutely nuts about rugby.
“I’m bonkers about the place and I love to spend time here, singing, laughing and drawing cartoons. This is where I was born and raised and I can't imagine living anywhere else.
“I went to university in Carmarthen for three years, but I still came home every other weekend,” added Siôn, who is a teacher and lives with his family, including six month old daughter Eira Lilly, in Treorchy.

He has a go at herding sheep

In the first episode of the new series, Siôn will be seen herding sheep and sampling beer from the Forch family distillery before visiting the home of author Cennard Davies in Treorchy, whose family has lived in the same house for 150 years.
We also meet Dafydd Francis, one of Siôn’s ex pupils, who is better known as YouTube sensation Lex Gabore.
Dafydd Francis.

Dafydd created his own character

Siôn said: “Meeting up with Dafydd was a real eye opener I have to say. After having a hard time at school, he decided to create this character Lex, who is totally over the top.
“Since then, he’s had a fantastic reaction from the people around him. It was so interesting to hear his stories and experiences of growing up as a homosexual person in the valleys.
Dilys Evans, grab from Pobol y Rhondda

Dilys, 91, speaks 'old' Rhondda

“Dilys Evans, from Blaenllechau, is also a real character. She’s 91 years old and unfortunately she doesn’t get the opportunity to speak Welsh from day to day.
“She still speaks the old dialect of the Rhondda, which is full of idioms that people would have used at the start of the last century and her accent is totally different to mine – even though she only lives down the road.”
Siôn where he is happiest

Crashes a hen party, too

Siôn also meets with a soap opera star in Ton Pentre, steps on to the stage at the Parc and Dare Theatre and joins a group of girls on a hen party in Treorchy.
And during his journey in the series Pobol y Rhondda, Siôn is determined to challenge the negative perception of the valleys that is sometimes seen.

'Rhondda people... entertaining, interesting and tidy'

“You rarely hear about all the positive things that are going on in the Rhondda,” said Siôn.
“Some TV programmes really get under my skin. The people taking part in reality series The Valleys didn’t even come from the valleys, they all lived in Cardiff.
Siôn and his family
“The people of the Rhondda are entertaining, interesting and tidy and I’m determined to reflect this in the series.”
Pobol y Rhondda will be shown on S4C on Thursday, March 3, with English subtitles.

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