As the eldest of eleven children, Ellis Humphrey Evans was meant for a life as a Welsh sheep farmer, but his days played out in an entirely different manner with the onset of WWI.
That budding career came to a halt in 1917 when Evans was killed in action at Pilckem Ridge in France during the Battle of Passchendaele. He was posthumously awarded the Welsh National Eisteddfod Chair, an honor bestowed upon a Welsh poet whose work was deemed the best of each year.
As a result, the chair was draped in black following the announcement of his victory, and his death.
“As we commemorate one hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War, the Gadair Ddu has become a symbol of the devastating impact the Great War had on communities and families across Wales, many of who lost fathers, brothers, uncles and sons to the conflict,” said First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones . “This is true of Hedd Wyn, whose tragic death on the battlefield in Flanders in 1917 meant he could never claim his Eisteddfod chair, now known as the Black Chair.”
Commissioned by wealthy builder David Evans, the original chair was designed and created by a Belgian craftsman, Eugeen Vanfleteren, and it was awarded posthumously draped in black cloth.
The chair awarded to the poet is kept at Hedd Wyn’s family farm house in the Snowdonia National Park.
It was painted a light color to highlight the fine details of the carving, and the copy is so complete in its details that it includes all the the marks of wear and tear inflicted on it over 100 years.
Alan Llwyd, the contemporary Welsh poet – and a two-time winner of the chair himself – calls the work of Hedd Wyn “a rich, complex, allegorical poem,” and adds that it was “possibly the most ambitious of any Eisteddfod winner of the 20th century.”
The replica chair will ultimately be displayed in St. Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff. Let us know your thoughts on this project, and whether you have a chance to see the 3D printed chair, at the Black Chair forum thread at 3DPB.com.
– by Hedd Wyn
Woe that I live in sullen days,
That God is setting like a sun
And in his place, as lord and slave,
Man raises forth his heinous throne.
When he thought God was gone at last
He put his brother to the sword.
Now death is roaring in our ears,
Shadowing the shanties of the poor.
The harps to which we sang are hung
On willow boughs, and their refrain
Drowned by the anguish of the young
Whose blood is mingled with the rain.