As part of our Placeholder series, we're asking some of our favourite artists an incredibly simple question: 'what are you reading?'. A pretty great way to find out what you should be spending your money on if you ask us.


Cardiff and the Marquesses of Bute by John Davies (1981)

"Maybe I'm showing my age here but I am finding myself getting more and more interested in local history as I'm getting on.

"John Davies was a great Welsh historian (he sadly passed away this past February) who's most well-known book is probably Hanes Cymru (later translated into English as A History of Wales) and I highly recommend that anyone who's interested in the history of Britain reads that, but the book that I've been reading recently is his study of the Bute family (Cardiff and the Marquesses of Bute), and their humongous influence on shaping Cardiff and the surrounding areas during the industrial revolution.

"The book itself is an incredibly detailed account of the Bute estate's business affairs but somehow, John Davies, through his writing, manages to present all of this information in such a clear manner and gives it such a vivid context that those details immediately become part of the bigger picture and you're transported back in time to the 19th and early 20th century - it makes me absolutely desperate to have the ability to time travel! No other family has had a larger influence on the planning of a city in the UK and that's what makes this book so fascinating, it is a detailed historical account of how capitalism works, the longstanding power of the aristocratic classes, and how little say the common working man and woman has when capitalism is at its peak.

"The Bute family were responsible for sending the army into both Merthyr during the Merthyr Rising and into Newport to attack the Chartists, partly as there wasn't a police force in place at the time (who I'm sure would've been equally as aggressive in their methods) but mainly to protect their assets. They were responsible for shipping over 40,000 Irish immigrants during the Irish Famine into Cardiff (a larger amount than any other city or area in the UK) to provide cheap labour and to undercut the already impoverished local workforce and all the while creating vast amount of profits for themselves.

"This book has given me a greater understanding of some of what and who has shaped modern Cardiff's architecture, infrastructure and its people, it's made me want to search for the stories of the ordinary people of the city next, and I'm incredibly grateful to John Davies for that."



Gwenno's new album, Y Dydd Olaf, is out on July 24th. Stream 'Patriarchaeth' below and check out her upcoming dates here.