Manon Williams talks about her apprenticeship with the Botanic Garden of Wales. She explains how her interest in the countryside and her creativity led her to a Cultural Heritage Venue Apprenticeship, which she hopes will be the beginning of a successful heritage career.
Please tell us about yourself and your apprenticeship with the Botanic Gardens.
My name is Manon and I am a Cultural Heritage Venue Apprentice at the Regency Restoration Project at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.
Before starting my apprenticeship, I didn’t have a background in heritage but I had a passion for my local countryside and the Botanic Garden. I had visited several times previously on college trips or on general visits with my Nan. I also had spent time as a volunteer in the Butterfly House. When the opportunity arose to undertake an Apprenticeship, I took the chance to apply because I wanted to learn whilst being in a professional environment.
My background is creative – I have had my photography exhibited, and written and produced my own magazines, so people that knew me may have been surprised that I had pursued a heritage role. It was clear from the job description that working in a heritage venue would give me a really broad range of expertise and knowledge, such as working across the business support functions throughout my apprenticeship programme. I have already developed a broader knowledge of many things I never thought I could learn. So far, it has been pretty interesting to be tasked with things I know little about and to learn so much whilst doing them.
I have really enjoyed learning more about lichen and fungi with my colleagues Peter, the Regency Woodland and Education Officer, Bruce, the Garden’s Head of Interpretation and other members of the weekly volunteer Conservation group. I especially like learning about the different species of fungi and the medicinal benefits that they have. I’ve also been using a telescopic lens to capture close up images of lichen which have yielded really artistic portraits.
I am currently working on a display about the landscape, wildlife and lichen of the Regency parkland for our Discovery Space. I am really looking forward to seeing our revamped Discovery Space telling the story of the history and heritage of the Garden, which will be ready later this spring. This year I am especially looking forward to delivering our East India Company Seafaring Event this August and our Regency Ghostly Storytelling event in October. I am also particularly looking forward to seeing the renovation of the Japanese Garden.
If you could plan an event in any cultural heritage site in the World, where and what would it be and why?
My choice of a World Cultural Heritage site would be the Yosemite National Park where I would host a week long Peace and Music retreat amongst the Giant Sequoia trees! It would be similar in the sense to how The Beatles went to learn spiritual practices from Hare Krishna and the music ethos would align with Woodstock Festival.
The lineup would be very eclectic and consist of sixties style music, The Rolling Stones, a few of The Kinks, Iggy Pop, MC5 and then some more Post Punky bands like The Buzzcocks and New Order.
There would be meditation and lots of walking in the mountains and canoeing/swimming in the lakes. It would be a complete disconnect to reality, no access to internet or glamping!