News

New Welsh arts column looks at the rebirth of Wales’ longest-running independent art gallery

Mark Rees - The Attic Gallery, Swansea in The Bay magazine

I’m pleased to announce that, staring with the July 2018 issue, I will be contributing a regular Welsh arts column to the wonderful magazine The Bay.

To kick things off, I’ve decided to start with a look back at the history of Wales longest-running independent art gallery which reopens this weekend – The Attic Gallery.

This Swansea institution came perilously close to closing its doors for good earlier this year (check out my articles on WalesOnline), before being saved at the eleventh hour by a pair of art lovers from the city.

Arts editor Mark Rees

The Attic Gallery, a Swansea institution

For more than three decades, Alexandra and David Roe were at the helm of the artistic institution perched on a corner of the Maritime Quarter. But following their decision to retire, the search to find suitable new owners for the art space began in earnest.

On Saturday, July 14, long-standing customers, and now directors of the gallery, Lisa and Andrew Green, will open their doors to the public for the very first time. Their debut exhibition will be the annual Summer Group Show which, quite appropriately, mirrors the gallery’s debut exhibition from 56 years ago.

There’ll be paintings, sculpture, glasswork, pottery and original prints on display from around 50 artists, including Glenys Cour, David Carpanini, Karel Lek, George Little and Helen Sinclair.

Contact Mark Rees

POSTPONED: Supernatural Evening: Ghosts of Wales in Carmarthenshire

Ghosts of Wales by Mark Rees

Important update: This “Supernatural Evening” event has been postponed

Sadly, due to reasons beyond of my control, the organisers have been forced to postpone the “Supernatural Evening” that I was due to appear at in Carmarthenshire on Sunday, July 15, 2018.

The original details remain below, and I will update this page if / when a new date is announced.

Sorry! For future events, please keep an eye on the events page.

Details for the original event:

There’s going to be a “Supernatural Evening” in Carmarthenshire this weekend, and I’ll be popping along to tell a few spooky tales, and sign some copies of Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives.

The event will take  place at The Thomas Arms in Llanelli, a pub with a reputation of being haunted, and will include a tour of the venue’s cellar and other spooky areas.

When I was putting the finishing touches to the first Ghosts of Wales book, there were a number of stories which just missed out due to the final word count.

One was an account of a spiritualist medium working in Llanelli, and what happened one fateful night when a gang of locals paid a visit to conduct a séance.

In the end, I decided to chop it from the final draft because it shared a lot of similarities to another yarn from Swansea. But even so, it’s still a great little spine-chiller, and will be one of the stories I’ll be telling on the night.

For full details, check out the poster below…

What is Ghosts of Wales?

Ghosts of Wales from Mark Rees - books, podcast and events from haunted Wales
Ghosts of Wales from Mark Rees – books, podcast and events from haunted Wales

Ghosts of Wales is the collective name given to a series of books, events and most recently a podcast from Welsh author and journalist Mark Rees.

You can read all about them on the dedicated Ghosts of Wales page.

Here’s the publisher’s info on the back of the Victorian Archives book, which can be bought from the books page and online here:

“Do you believe in ghosts? Then attend to my story! Laugh as we may at the idea of ghosts, people do believe in ghosts, and fear them.”

In the Victorian era, sensational ghost stories made headline news.

Spine-chilling reports of two-headed phantoms, murdered knights and spectral locomotives filled the press. Spirits communicated with the living at dark séances, forced terrified families to flee their homes, and caused frightened workers to down their tools at the haunted mines.

This book – Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives – reveals for the first time more than 50 hair-raising – and in some cases, comical – real life accounts from Wales dating from 1837 to 1901.

Unearthed from the newspaper archives, they include chilling prophecies from beyond the grave, poltergeists who terrorised the industrial communities, and more than a few ingenious hoaxes along the way.

Tell me more about this “Supernatural Evening”

For more details, please get in touch via the contact page and keep an eye on the events page.

The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks – a new book from Mark Rees

Mark Rees, author of "Ghosts of Wales", on his way to the Hay Festival.

I’m very pleased to announce that the title of my next book will be (drum roll, please!)… The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks!

The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks will squeeze around 300 amazing Welsh places, from world famous attractions to obscure hidden gems – like Chepstow Castle, pictured below – into one “little book”

Chepstow Castle features in the new book by Mark Rees

Anyone familiar with my previous book The Little Book of Welsh Culture will have a good idea of what to expect – this will be the same size, length and feel.

In fact, you could even call it a sequel of sorts and they’ll look like a matching pair on the book shelf.

This lovely new book will be in all good bookshops November 2018, just in time for Christmas so you’ll have no trouble thinking of what to buy that tricky relative this year!

Here’s the blurb from the publisher:

The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks

Published November 2018, The History Press

From the snowy peaks of Snowdonia to the glorious Wales Coastal Path, this compelling compendium is a fact-filled journey through Wales’ most iconic landmarks and popular tourist attractions.

Experience the country’s immense history, from the breathtaking World Heritage Sites to the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the countless castles, secluded beaches, mystical rivers and hidden gems which can be found across the land.

This handy book can be dipped into time and time again to reveal something new about the people, the heritage and the secrets of Cymru.

Click here to order The Little Book of Welsh Landmarks by Mark Rees

What about The Little Book of Welsh Culture?

The Little Book of Welsh Culture by Mark Rees

The Little Book of Welsh Culture was published in 2016, and could be seen as an early precursor to these future titles.

It remains in print and is available to buy now from all good bookshops and online, and here’s the publisher’s blurb for this one:

The Little Book of Welsh Culture

Published 2016, The History Press

The Little Book of Welsh Culture is a fast-paced, fact-filled journey through the cultural heritage of Wales, exploring the rich history of its literature, festivals, performing arts, visual arts and music, and unearthing some fascinating secrets and hidden gems along the way.

Crammed full of myths, traditions, birthplaces and personalities, experience the country’s immense artistic legacy as never before, from the medieval legends surrounding King Arthur and The Mabinogion to its modern-day transformation into a thriving film location for big-screen blockbusters.

Discover the truth behind the druidic rituals of the National Eisteddfod, separate the facts from the fiction that surround Dylan Thomas’ infamous lifestyle, and learn how Wales successfully regenerated the Doctor Who franchise.

Click here to order The Little Book of Welsh Culture by Mark Rees

Ghosts of Wales: Join Mark Rees for a Halloween paranormal party… if you dare!

Ghosts of Wales: Join Mark Rees for a Halloween paranormal party... if you dare!

I’m having a paranormal party in Swansea this Halloween, and you’re ALL invited!

Please join me in Mumbles where I’ll be launching my new book Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives with some spooky stories, and a little ghost hunting.

There may even be a free glass of wine – if you ask nicely!

Here’s the official blurb:

“You are cordially invited to an evening of  spooky Welsh ghost stories.

“This Halloween, join Mark Rees and Cover to Cover for a paranormal party guaranteed to strike terror into the stoutest of hearts.

“£3 per ticket, redeemable against purchase of the book Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives.”

WHAT: Ghosts of Wales Halloween Book Launch Party

WHEN: Saturday, October 28, 2017, 7.30pm

WHERE: Tabernacle Arts Centre, Mumbles, Swansea

“Do you believe in ghosts? Then attend to my story! Laugh as we may at the idea of ghosts, people do believe in ghosts, and fear them.”

Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives

What is Ghosts of Wales?

Ghosts of Wales from Mark Rees - books, podcast and events from haunted Wales
Ghosts of Wales from Mark Rees – books, podcast and events from haunted Wales

Ghosts of Wales is the collective name given to a series of books, events and most recently a podcast from Welsh author and journalist Mark Rees.

You can read all about them on the dedicated Ghosts of Wales page.

Here’s the publisher’s info on the back of the Victorian Archives book, which can be bought from the books page:

“Do you believe in ghosts? Then attend to my story! Laugh as we may at the idea of ghosts, people do believe in ghosts, and fear them.”

In the Victorian era, sensational ghost stories made headline news.

Spine-chilling reports of two-headed phantoms, murdered knights and spectral locomotives filled the press. Spirits communicated with the living at dark séances, forced terrified families to flee their homes, and caused frightened workers to down their tools at the haunted mines.

This book – Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives – reveals for the first time more than 50 hair-raising – and in some cases, comical – real life accounts from Wales dating from 1837 to 1901.

Unearthed from the newspaper archives, they include chilling prophecies from beyond the grave, poltergeists who terrorised the industrial communities, and more than a few ingenious hoaxes along the way.

Tell me more about this paranormal party

For more details, please get in touch via the contact page.

Ghosts of Wales Live: There was a paranormal party in Swansea, and things got a bit spooky…

Author Mark Rees at the launch of Ghosts of Wales at the "Ghosts of Wales - Live" event in Swansea

A huge thank you to everyone who came along, and helped make a success, of my paranormal party at the Grand Hotel during the Swansea Fringe Festival.

The Ghosts of the Grand was a chance to tell some ghastly stories, to do a little ghost hunting, and even catch a spot of spooky belly dancing (yes, spooky belly dancing).

Oh, and there was a ghost in the room with us as well, which was… unexpected. See if you can notice it in the photos.

If anyone would like to get in touch with, or hear more from, the amazing people involved, you can track them down here:

• Folkloric belly dancers the Lotus Sisters

• Paranormal group Cymru Paranormal

• Storyteller Owen Staton

• Illustrator Sandra Evans

Spooky photos from the Ghosts of Wales paranormal party

Mark Rees with the Lotus Sisters folkloric belly dancers at the Ghosts of Wales preview at Swansea Grand Hotel. Photo by Gayle Marsh.

Author Mark Rees with the excellent Lotus Sisters, who provided the spooky folklore-inspired belly dancing.

Anyone see a ghost? At the Ghosts of Wales book preview, Swansea Grand Hotel

Can anyone else see something moving by that door? I could sear it just opened by itself, and a cold darught filled the room…

Storyteller Owen Staton and friend at the Ghosts of Wales party at Swansea Grand Hotel.

Storyteller Owen Staton with a supernatural “friend” at the Ghosts of Wales party at Swansea Grand Hotel.

Cymru Paranormal at the Ghosts of Wales preview party at Swansea Grand Hotel

Wales’ finest paranormal investigators Cymru Paranormal teach the crowd to investigate like the professionals at the Ghosts of Wales preview party at Swansea Grand Hotel.

The Lotus Sisters belly dancers during the Ghosts of Wales preview party at Swansea Grand Hotel

Take a bow! The incredible Lotus Sisters belly dancers wrap up their unique performance at the Ghosts of Wales preview party at Swansea Grand Hotel.

Ghosts of Wales – Live events

This was just the first of many Ghosts of Wales – Live! events, and I hope to make it an annual traditional going forward – maybe even more often than that!

To keep up-to-date with any new dates for eerie entertainments as they are announced, please keep an eye on the events page.

Ghosts of Wales preview: You are all cordially invited to a supernatural soirée

Ghosts of Wales preview: You are all cordially invited to a supernatural soirée

I’m having a supernatural soirée at Swansea Grand Hotel as part of the Swansea Fringe Festival, and you’re all invited!

You can catch all of the spooky action on Saturday, September 30, at 4pm in the High Street hotel.

Full details in the invitation below, and for future Ghosts of Wales – Live! events keep an eye on the events page.

Invitation to the Swansea Grand Hotel spooky party:

Mr. Mark Rees requests your gracious presence at a paranormal party guaranteed to strike terror into ignorant minds. Join him at the Swansea Fringe Festival for a preview of his new collection of hideous tales, Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives.

You can expect such ghastly distractions as:

Spine-chilling tales from Wales’ greatest spooky storyteller, Owen Staton

A ghost hunting display from the fearless experts at Cymru Paranormal

Sensational music hall-style burlesque surprises from Bluestocking Lounge

When are where will the paranormal party be?

WHAT: Ghosts of Wales – Live 2017: Ghosts of the Grand

WHERE: The Grand Hotel, High Street, Swansea

WHEN: Saturday, September 30, 2017, 4pm

For more details, visit the venue’s website here.

What is the Swansea Fringe Festival?

Here’s the blurb from my WalesOnline artilce:

The Swansea Fringe Festival is back.

Following an absence of decades, the three-day gathering – originally intended as a two-day gathering, but extended by an extra 24 hours to keep up with demand – will return to the city this weekend with more than 100 acts in more than 15 venues.

Organised in conjunction with the Swansea International Festival and the Swansea Big Weekend, the inaugural festival will be focused primarily on the city’s High Street , and will feature musicians, comedians, writers, poets, artists, food and drink makers, and all manner of other creative types joining in.

You can read more on WalesOnline here.

The Ghosts of Wales series will be launched this Halloween with a look at the Victorian era

Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives by Mark Rees

I’m pleased to announce that the first book in the Ghosts of Wales seriesGhosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives, will be published on October 2, 2017 by The History Press.

I’m planning a few spooky talks and events about my research into the haunted archives in the build-up to Halloween, so be sure to check out the public talks page for more details as and when they get added.

A huge thank you to everyone who made this book a reality, and I look forward to seeing you all over the coming weeks and months as we celebrate spooky season with a spooky new book!

Buy Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives now

Ghosts of Wales: Accounts from the Victorian Archives will be available to buy from all good bookshops and online from all the usual places, including Amazon.

What’s it all about?

Here’s the blurb from the publisher to send a shiver down you spine!

In the Victorian era, sensational ghost stories were headline news.

Spine-chilling reports of two-headed phantoms, murdered knights and spectral locomotives filled the pages of the press. Spirits communicated with the living at dark séances, forced terrified families to flee their homes and caused superstitious workers to down their tools at the haunted mines.

This book contains more than fifty hair-raising – and in some cases, comical – real life accounts from Wales, dating from 1837 to 1901.

Unearthed from newspaper archives, they include chilling prophecies from beyond the grave, poltergeists terrorising the industrial communities, and more than a few ingenious hoaxes along the way.