Creative students bring masterpieces to life

The masterpieces that adorn the walls of the National Museum Cardiff have been brought to life thanks to the work of a group of costume designers from Coleg y Cymoedd.

Hours of historical research and months of painstakingly detailed work by college leaners studying towards their BA (Hons) in Costume Construction for Stage and Screen have created near-exact interpretations of the clothing and garments featured in some of the Museum’s most famous works, including Renoir’s La Parisienne, better known as The Blue Lady.

The costumes are the result of three months of work at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Nantgarw campus, which culminated with the learners’ work being unveiled at the unique Fashion in Frame event at the National Museum Cardiff.

In addition to viewing one of Europe’s finest art collections, those attending the event had the rare opportunity to interact with some of the paintings’ subjects, as models wearing the six costumes created walked the room.

Not satisfied with creating costumes that simply looked the part, with support from Elen Philips, the Principal Curator Contemporary & Community History for St Fagans National Museum of History, and historian Professor Lloyd Llewellyn-Jones from Cardiff University, the Coleg y Cymoedd learners used period correct techniques to create every piece.

Following their studies at Coleg y Cymoedd, many of the learners will seek to put their skills into practice in careers creating costumes for the theatre, television and film screens.

Coleg y Cymoedd learner, Angela Emes, was tasked with recreating a piece worn by Clara Novello Davies in a portrait painted by Margaret Lindsay Williams in 1915. Following the Museum event, Angela said: “This was a really exciting project to work on. Many people on the course are planning careers in costume design for the theatre, tv and film, but constructing something that is historically accurate takes much more than making something that looks the part. You need to choose your techniques, fabric and models carefully. The goal was to make it look like the subject stepped out of the canvas, but we could only work from what we could see in the painting. Getting everything else correct took hours of research.

“I joined the college in my 60s and plan to work with local productions after I graduate. I was so grateful to be accepted onto the course and the college has kept us energised and inspired since we first joined the foundation degree. I’ve gained work experience with films studios, created costumes for drag queen events, it’s always something new and that’s thanks to our tutors. I know a lot of people on the course will be working with big theatre and film projects in the future.”

Attracted by the reputation on the Costume Construction course, Iona Duff moved to Wales from Cambridge specifically to study at Coleg y Cymoedd. Iona explained: “After I learned that many of the course graduates had secured careers working for tv, movie and theatre productions, I knew I needed to study here. Over the years I been able to work on some interesting projects, but this has been a really challenging one. I’ve wanted to try making a complicated Victorian dress, so I was excited to learn I’d be recreating the dress worn by The Blue Lady. As I researched the piece early in the planning stages the pressure increased, as I quickly realised this was one of the most famous paintings in Wales. The fact that I’d be cutting blue silk that cost over £20 a metre didn’t help either.

“I think the experience working on this piece is going to help me in the future. My dream is to go into making costumes for tv and film. When you’re making something that could be filmed up close and shown on a HD cinema screen, details count. This piece was hours on hours of work, but it was a brilliant opportunity.” 


Speaking at the event, Caroline Thomas, the learners’ award leader from Coleg y Cymoedd’s School of Creative Industries, said: “Each of the learners have put their heart and soul into creating these costumes and it is incredibly exciting to see that work culminate with a live event at the National Museum Cardiff. You can’t underestimate the level of work that it takes to bring a piece of historic clothing captured in a painting to life. What you can see is just the surface. Each outfit has been constructed from ‘the skin up’ to be as accurate as possible. In some cases that includes cages, corsets and many layers of garments.

“Seeing the models walking alongside the artworks that inspired them was amazing and the costume parade in front of the Museum’s beautiful Williams-Wynn organ, just makes it clear that these talented learners have fantastic industry careers ahead of them.”

Photographer snaps up repeated award wins

A learner from Coleg y Cymoedd studying towards her Foundation Degree in Photography has seen her work secure a series of national awards.

Tracey Dobbs, 32, from Abertillery, has been awarded three gold awards with two national photography bodies.

The artist, who specialises in children’s fine art portraits, is already a sought after thanks to her distinctive style which is more akin to gallery paintings than traditional photography.      

Not one to be pinned down to any one style, it was a street art image of a busker taken on the streets of Bath during a field trip that secured Tracey a gold in two separate sets of awards held by the National Photography Society and the Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers.

As well as taking the top prize for the ‘street art’ category at both awards, the National Photography Society also selected another of Tracey’s coursework photos for the gold award in its ‘Still Art’ category. Having secured gold awards in the monthly competitions, she is now in the running for the annual awards held by each of the professional organisations.

A mature learner, Tracey initially discovered life though a lens after her struggles with epilepsy saw her leave school at 16 with one GCSE. Initially beginning as a hobby while she worked odd jobs and cared for her young children, Tracey realised that her interest in photography was her true calling.

After completing a BTEC in photography, Tracey decided to set up her own business working from a home studio. As the venture took off, she decided to enrol at Coleg y Cymoedd to enhance her skills and develop the business knowledge and skills that would take her to the next level.   

After learning that she’d secured three professional awards for work from her college portfolio, Tracey, said: “It was absolutely amazing to find out I’d won not just one, but three awards. I’m not the most confident person so getting this recognition has been a huge confidence boost for me. As a photographer, the awards have helped to build my credibility professionally and enabled me to get my name out there. My course tutors, Jessica Emanuel and Ian Burgum have been brilliant, encouraging me to enter the awards, and supporting me throughout the whole process.” 

This isn’t the first time Tracey’s work has been recognised by professional experts. The Abertillery artist also had her images featured as part of an international billboard campaign, ‘Shot on iPhone’, by global tech giant, Apple.

Congratulating Tracey, Jessica Emanuel, Course leader for the Foundation Degree in Photography at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “It’s incredibly rewarding to see talented individuals like Tracey receive the industry acknowledgment they truly deserve. Her work speaks for itself, but her dedication to developing her craft and the business skills that will see her studio grow is an inspiration to all who dare to turn their natural talent into a fulfilling career that will support their creative and professional futures.”  

For more information about the Foundation Degree in Photography at Coleg y Cymoedd, visit here .To see examples of student work, please visit

Cymoedd footballers ‘Called up’ for Wales Colleges Squad

Four talented footballers from Coleg y Cymoedd have been selected as part of the Wales Colleges and Wales Schools football squads for their first competition of the new year against Australia u18s.

The players, all studying on the BTEC Sport programme are part of the Football Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd.

Evan Lloyd (17) from Pontypridd Scott Lewis (16) from Penrhiwceiber, Morgan Grahame (16) from Caerphilly, all of whom play for Cambrian & Clydach, will line up for the Wales Schools u18 at Cardiff Metropolitan ground. Jay Woodford (18) from Ferndale, will represent Wales Colleges u19 whilst Evan Lloyd is selected for both.

Jay Woodford, who also represents Carmarthen Town, has been given the honour of captaining the Welsh Colleges team. Commenting on his selection Jay said, “It’s a huge privilege to be selected for this role”.    

Phil Thomas, Tutor and Head of Men’s Football at Coleg y Cymoedd commented, “I am delighted for the learners.  They are dedicated players, who train hard to achieve their best performances and have fully embraced the college’s excellent football and education programme.

Obviously huge congratulations to Jay who has been named as captain of the team for the forthcoming game; we are delighted for him. We have been very impressed with his commitment and maturity”.

Wales Colleges v Australia Wednesday 16th January 

Wales Schools v Australia Thursday 17th January

Both games will be played at Cardiff Met FC

College crowned rugby champions

Coleg y Cymoedd learners and staff are celebrating success as their college’s under 18s squad became the WRU Welsh Schools and Colleges Rugby league champions for the second year in a row.

The Cardiff Blues affiliated college retained its title as reigning champion with a 28-19 win over arch-rivals Coleg Sir Gar in a tense battle between the two giants of Under 18s rugby at Sardis Road.

In a close game, which was the seventh successive final to see the two teams face each other, supporters of both sides were kept on the edge of their seats before a late try from Cardiff Blues U18’s Will Clapham secured Cymoedd the win.

Leading with a nine-point difference, the result marks the second consecutive victory for Coleg y Cymoedd against Coleg Sir Gar, as well as four years of WRU College League titles for the team.

The win follows a successful season for Coleg y Cymoedd which has seen the squad win 16 out of 17 games played including pre-season fixtures. In addition to being crowned the 2019 WRU Welsh Schools and Colleges champion, the college’s team also won the 2018 British Colleges Cup for the fifth year in a row, beating stiff competition from all over the country for the coveted title. The squad is now competing in the group stages for the 2019 British Colleges League and is already at the top of its group.

Commenting on the squad’s latest win and outstanding performance over the last year, Lee Davies, Director of Rugby at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “2018-2019 has been another successful season for the rugby programme. Winning both the Welsh Colleges and British Colleges Cups in the same year was an amazing achievement and one that we hope to repeat in 2019. Kickstarting the year with the win against Sir Gâr puts us in a very strong position to do this.

“There is a special rivalry between Cymoedd and Sir Gâr and we were excited to go head to head again. It was always going to be a tough game as both teams are very talented and well-coached, but we were well prepared, and I am very impressed with the boys’ performance. It was a great game.

“I am very proud of the effort and commitment shown by all of the boys on the team. The success they have achieved doesn’t come easy – they are a very talented bunch and have worked really hard for this, even coming in over the Christmas holidays and New Year to train. This dedication has been reflected by the fact that many of them have been selected to play for regional and national teams, with 18 of our players in the current Cardiff Blues Under 18s squad, and ten of our boys in the Wales Under 18s and 19s.”

One Coleg y Cymoedd learner to have secured a place with the Cardiff Blues Under 18s team and Wales’ national training camp is 18-year-old Ieuan Pring from Llanharan, who is also captain of the college’s U18 team.

Ieuan said: “It was amazing to win the Welsh Schools and Colleges Cup. We saw a strong performance from the boys, which is testament to all the work and training we’ve put in. I’m very proud of the team and also thankful to our coaches at the college.

“Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rugby academy helped to prepare us for the game and has also helped many of the team to kickstart their rugby careers. It’s great that it enables you to combine rugby and education together so that you can work on your qualifications while receiving top class rugby training.”

Alongside playing for the Cardiff Blues, Ieuan attends Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rugby Academy where he studies a BTEC Level 3 Extended diploma while training and playing with Cymoedd’s rugby team.

At the College Rugby Academy, Ieuan receives expert rugby tuition, rugby analysis and strength and conditioning to help maximise his rugby potential. However, the College Academy also ensures that rugby learners are prepared academically should a career in rugby not materialise.

Designed to give players the chance to combine accredited rugby training with full-time academic study, the academy offers BTEC Level 1, 2 or 3 sports qualifications and/or A-Levels alongside training as part of the programme.


Wellington Street
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN


Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
CF15 7QY


Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
CF82 7XR

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