Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright
Some information and artefacts were first collected in the s, but have never been properly organised or stored and are now at risk of being lost if not cared for appropriately. Money brought into Cardiff through the docks in the 19th and early 20th centuries from the shipping of Welsh coal mined in the South Wales valleys, put the city on the map and contributed massively to its growth as the capital of Wales.
No one knows where the name Tiger Bay originates but the name became legendary and workers came from rural Wales, Cornwall, Ireland, Africa, Asia the Middle East, Norway, Spain, Italy and the Caribbean to earn steady wages and start a new life on the outskirts of the city.
When the project is completed a year from now, their stories and many more will be featured in an exhibition to go on show in Cardiff.
Thanks to National Lottery funding, a new project will look at the history of Tiger Bay through the eyes of people who came from across the world to work in Cardiff. The history of Tiger Bay Money brought into Cardiff through the docks in the 19th and early 20th centuries from the shipping of Welsh coal mined in the South Wales valleys, put the city on the map and contributed massively to its growth as the capital of Wales. Johnson-John Baptiste worked in Nottinghamshire mines for 26 years.
A National Lottery-funded project helped him to reunite with his former colleagues and celebrate his achievements. As in her earlier novel, Chevalier has chosen to focus not on the artist himself but upon those who observe and admire him. Girl with a Pearl Earring is written from the perspective of Griet, a maidservant who sits as model for the portrait.
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In both novels, Chevalier is preoccupied primarily with the loss of childish innocence and with the role of great art in that process. Those who admired Chevalier's atmospheric evocation of 17th-century Delft will find much to enjoy in her vivid reconstruction of late 18th-century London. This broad canvas, however, brings its own difficulties.
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In Girl with a Pearl Earring, set in the main in the claustrophobic intensity of the artist's house, the atmosphere is miniaturist and built up like paint, layer upon layer. In Burning Bright, Chevalier has created a story which, like the raucous panorama of London against which it is set, is broad and busy, its focus shifting restlessly between its many characters. There is a great deal of action and drama - in the course of the novel we are witness to rape, murder and a triumvirate of shameful pregnancies, not to mention the hair-raising feats of the circus and a blaze in a house filled with fireworks - but the plot that brings them together never quite catches light.
The heavy accumulation of historical detail is insufficiently balanced with the weight of the story itself.
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Instead the reader's attention is rapidly drawn from one place to another, diffusing emotion and spreading the characters too thin. As for Blake himself, his relationship with the young protagonists of the story is slight and unsatisfactory. It is of course difficult to express externally the essentially solitary and silent business of writing. Chevalier writes in detail about the printing process, but the manufacture of the poems themselves is not so easy to evoke.
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