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Organ donor families celebrate unveiling of sculpture



A sculpture has been unveiled at the National Botanic Garden of Wales as part of Organ Donation Week.

The special event was held to raise awareness of organ donation, and to recognise donor families in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area and across Wales.

The sculpture depicts a Kingfisher rising from the water, representing growth, life and hope. It can be found in the botanical garden’s new pond project.

Among those who attended the unveiling was Jesse Lewis from Neath, who spoke about how organ donation affected his family after his son Jac sadly took his own life.

He said: “The final days of Jac’s life were filled with hope for us, and when that was taken away, I immediately thought about transplants.

“There are so many people out there waiting and hoping for a chance to continue living a normal life.”


Following this, Jesse and his wife Janet set up the Jac Lewis Foundation, a charity to help people suffering with mental health issues.

He added: “It offers hope, and I think it is the ingredient that gives people the fight inside them to carry on.

“Nothing that has been achieved so far will ever stop the pain of losing Jac as anyone that’s lost someone so close will know.

“However, turning that pain into someone else’s hope, gives meaning to his existence, knowing that his life positively impacted on the lives of many others.”


Rea John, Specialist Nurse at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “Even though we have had an opt out system in Wales for almost six years, families will still always be consulted before organ donation goes ahead.

“It’s important to make your decision known to your family and friends, so they know what you want to happen if organ donation becomes a possibility.

“Please speak with your family today, it makes it a little easier for them if they are ever in that position.”

The sculpture was designed by local artist, Paul Clarke, who used materials from Hywel Dda’s three counties to maintain the connection with the health board.

“It’s a tribute to thank the families who in their darkest times find it within them to support and help save the lives of others,” said Rea.


For every consented organ donor in the health board, NHS Blood and Transplant make a payment to represent that donor.

This has raised more than £10,000 over the past year, which will be used towards the Scheduled Acute Care Services (ICU). 

(Lead image: Hywel Dda NHS)

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Scientists and art experts work together to solve Swansea mystery




Swansea scientists and art experts have combined to solve the mystery of an historic city painting.

Specialists from Swansea University and the council’s Glynn Vivian Art Gallery worked together to establish key facts about the oil – including the artist’s identity.

Their detailed work included precise analysis of some of the paint along with loving repairs to the image.

The city centre gallery is now hosting a new exhibition – Indigo: Collections, Conservation, Chemistry – that features the painting and tells its story. The painting dates from the late 17th or early 18th century.

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “The research on this project has been admirable and has helped solve a mystery dating back more than a century.

“I hope that people will be intrigued and will visit the exhibition to find out the whole story!”


The painting was listed in the Glynn Vivian’s original 1911 catalogue as Queen Anne as Princess by Sir Peter Lely.

An investigation began a number of years ago, with gallery conservation officer Jenny Williamson carefully cleaning and restoring the canvas.

The identity of the painter was solved with the help of archives and analytical chemistry. A variety of techniques were used, particularly when studying a blue pigment from the young woman’s dress.

Swansea University scientists Dr Cecile Charbonneau, Dr Ann Hunter and Katie Hebborn, a PhD student, worked with Jenny to determine the chemical nature of pigments. They offered clues essential to discovering the painter’s identity.

The work is now thought to be by Swedish-born portrait painter Michael Dahl (1659-1743), and the gallery is changing its title to Portrait of a Young Lady from the Court of Queen Anne. It’s on display in the new exhibition.


Jenny Williamson said: “I feel privileged that I could do the conservation work, which has revealed the quality and the colours of this painting.”

Research officer Dr Hunter said: “Working together as a team has shown how multi-disciplinary art and science can be.”

Senior lecturer Dr Charbonneau said: “The Glynn Vivian project was for me, a way to go back to doing forensics science and analysis of art, which is something that was so dear to me.”

The new exhibition is a partnership between the Glynn Vivian and Swansea University. It’s funded by a grant from The Royal Society of Chemistry Outreach Fund, with support from the gallery, the council, SPECIFIC, Beacon and the university with support from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and European Regional Development Fund.

Indigo: Collections, Conservation and Chemistry Glynn Vivian, Sep 15-Feb 27, Free entry,


Lead Image: Part of the painting Portrait of a Young Lady from the Court of Queen Anne. (Image: Swansea Council)

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Elysium Gallery collaborates with UWTSD Swansea College of Art for latest exhibition




Students and alumni from The University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Swansea College of Art have collaborated with the Elysium Gallery in Swansea for their latest exhibition ‘Thread’.

Two of the exhibition’s curators are alumni of Swansea College of Art, Honorary Research Fellow Angela Maddock, and Ann Jordan. Siwan Thomas, a recent BA graduate and Imogen Mills from the current MA Contemporary Dialogue: Textiles cohort were invited to collaborate and exhibit some of their own work, to gain experience from working alongside and engaging with more experienced artists.

The exhibition, funded by the Arts Council of Wales, provides an exciting platform for contemporary textile artists to stand shoulder to shoulder with painters, sculpturers and photographers – demonstrating different processes and skills for a celebration of diversity and inclusivity.

Curator Ann Jordan and Founder Director of Elysium Gallery said: “The power of textiles is universal, transcending all boundaries and barriers, whether it is cultural, racial or about identity and ability, touching each and all everyday of our lives, woven into our own personal and collective narratives. Our language is imbued and enriched with textiles words leaving a lasting legacy.

“The pandemic with all is uncertainties had forced changes to be made so Elysium was delighted when Raisa Kabir, Shelly Goldsmith, Lasmin Salmon and Shona Robin MacPherson, all of whom had never shown work before in Wales confirmed that they would be able to take part in the exhibition.


“Attributes in students and graduates that we look for are enthusiasm, professional hard work and commitment: a willingness to learn, always questioning and experimenting and to possess a realisation that its ok to have failures and be rejected. Every experience is part of the learning curve.

“Siwan and Imogen’s enthusiasm was boundless as they rolled up their sleeves and became valued members of the team. It’s all hands-on deck at Elysium. Meaningful conversations flowed between artists, curators, and students. They were given guidance but made their own decisions. Hopefully the experience gave them a glimpse of what they could achieve in their careers. The private view afforded an opportunity to talk about their work to the public, receive feedback and make new personal connections.”

Angela Maddock added: “We hope that the two students selected would gain experience from working alongside more experienced artists and that their energy would contribute to the installation. In the end, this worked really well for everyone. It’s important that students who visit get the chance to see themselves reflected in events like this.”

Imogen said: “It has been an excellent opportunity to work with leading textile artists. The exhibition is wonderful, offering such a rich and diverse reading of textile thinking. I feel honoured to be part of that.  What will stay with me however is the generosity of all those involved in sharing decisions, conversations; in making me feel truly included. There is so much hierarchy in the arts world, for an emerging artist it was very beneficial to be empowered in such a way. The Work Room manifests this entirely.


Siwan, who is now working as a designer/ maker, graduated with a First-Class degree in Surface Pattern Design from Swansea College of Art this summer.

She said: I was invited and selected by the Thread curatorial team to exhibit my final collection – ‘Thoughtful Chaos’, alongside fellow student Imogen Mills and the celebrated textile artists. I’m Incredibly grateful for the opportunity to debut my pieces to the public, for the first time ever in a wonderful space – thank you Elysium Gallery.

“This experience has been the best start to my journey into the industry, what a boost! The exposure and support have been immense and I’m very thankful. I’m excited to see how my career unfolds post-Thread.”

Angela said: “Siwan’s work is beautiful; colourful and engaging, but it also responds to isolation, it has a language of engagement and play. We all need that. Imogen does this in her work too, she considers how cloth, and its construction has parallels with how we build our world.

“Both were selected for their work, which we felt was engaging and innovative. Both made huge contributions to the exhibition installation and joined with the curators and the two artists who were there for installation – Shelly Goldsmith and Shona Robin MacPherson – in decision making, eating lunch, and drinking many teas and coffees.

“It’s that idea about not pulling up the ladder and also making a bigger table. It’s also good for established artists to work with emerging ones and students. Knowledge is circular. I learn as much from my students – probably more – than they learn from me. I also love teaching, I left SCA four years ago – after many years as a senior lecturer – but I’m still in touch, still working with my surface pattern and MA Textiles friends, they are my making family. It’s a good feeling to be contributing knowledge, to supporting emerging talent.”

A symposium, featuring both artists and curators, will be held on Saturday October 2.


(All images: UWTSD)



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Artist helps celebrate the stories of influential Swansea women




Swansea artist Patti McKenna is using the regeneration of a city landmark to celebrate the lives of local women.

She has painted eye-catching murals of three women on red safety hoardings around the base of High Street’s historic Palace Theatre building. More will follow.

Swansea Council is working to save the flatiron-shaped structure and give it new life as a centre for young creative businesses.

Patti said: “I’m pleased that the council has allowed me to celebrate strong local people in this way. A number of local residents have told me how pleased they are to see them.

“I’ve had lovely feedback from local people – they think it’s beautiful that women’s stories are being told and that the murals represent a wide range of ethnicities.


“Each of the women featured has given a great deal to local communities here and further afield and I hope that my murals on the Palace hoardings allow their endeavours to be more widely appreciated.”

Council cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said: “I’m delighted that Patti came to us with this idea – and I know that the murals are already bringing a lot of joy.

“They represent a wide variety of women who, in their own way, have made Swansea a better place.

“Our city has a vibrant cultural landscape and the council is pleased to be at the forefront of encouraging public art.”


The women featured on Patti’s Palace murals so far are:

Helen Griffin – an actor, playwright and screenwriter who appeared regularly in Welsh theatre and on TV. Her work included Doctor Who, the 2006 film Little White Lies and a writing partnership with Jo Brand. Born in 1959 and died in 2018.

Bintou – a support worker known for her important work with Swansea’s homeless

Jan Kauffling – a homelessness nurse whose endeavours had a direct effect at street level and who now helps with the roll-out of the Covid vaccine.

Patti’s murals are easy to enjoy – they’re at street level and are protected from damage by newly installed CCTV cameras.

Over the coming months, she plans to add other images, including tattoo artist Farhana Ali, industrialist Amy Dillwyn, community worker Samantha Evans, singer Kizzy Crawford, Paralympics archer Jodie Grinham, singer Mary Hopkin and film director Rungano Nyoni.


Other projects that Patti’s also working on include a mural in Clydach – a partnership with allotment holders. A well as working as an artist, she teaches music and art and works with homeless people. She is also involved with the Swansea Print Workshop.

The council acquired the 133-year-old Palace from private owners last year; it is a poor state of repair and needs a complete overhaul, with its architectural style and integrity remaining intact.

Tramshed Tech plans to create a modern workspace for young and growing businesses, especially those in the tech, digital and creative sectors. There will be public areas and there will the opportunity to hold small events and performances there.

Funding for the Palace redevelopment is being sought from the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government, via the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns programme for the project.

(All images: Swansea Council)


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