Glynn Vivian Art Gallery: blog

October 7, 2015
by Charlotte

Poetically Speaking – The Power of Literature (Part 1)

To celebrate Black History Month in Wales 2015, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery’s 4Site Secondary Schools Programme introduced a new workshop, ‘Poetically Speaking – The Power of Literature’. Black History Month celebrates the contributions made by Black people to local, national and world history and culture and aims to educate people in Wales, challenge negative perceptions and promote the history of people of African Diaspora heritage. This year’s theme is ‘Great Black Women’.

Working with writer, playwright and performer, Tracy Harris, Year 9 students from Bishop Gore Comprehensive School, used extracts from literature, poetry, art and multimedia to examine the powerful influence of great female black writers such as Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Angela Davis and Zadie Smith. Taking inspiration from these great writers, the students have written their own pieces of flash fiction, monologues and poetry.

These poems were created by the students collectively and inspired by ‘free writing’ starting with the same first line.

1. Swaying like the branch of a weeping willow
the maiden talked sweetly to the blossoming cherry tree
as the pink flowers withered in to burning fires of hell
the naive maiden, in her youth, unaware of the pain and destruction of age
the howls of hell hounding her

2. Swaying like a branch of a weeping willow
tumbling down like your dad drops you as a baby
crying as the clouds empty their sorrows
screaming into the wind
Howling like a wolf cries to the moon
Staring back in to his big brownish bronze eyes
Gazing at the tall towering trees overhead
Crystals illuminate the black emptiness of the beyond

3. Swaying like a branch of a weeping willow
Soft, gentle whistles in the wind
Swept through the air
Like angels pouring their hearts out to the soil
Melodic to some, but a whistling sound to ignorant mankind
Carrying life on its shoulders
A bird of the forest alone whistling
The flock of birds travelling together
A strange and forlorn sound as they drift
A gunshot
No whistling no more
Silence descends on the once happy forest
The angels and the birds have been left to darkness
The forest silence like the void before time
The nothingness, deafening, reverberating
Around the wilting, weeping, willow
You can almost hear the angels weeping
At the willows eternal sorrow.

4. Swaying like a branch of a weeping willow
with a pencil case lonely on the branch
it sat teetering on a twig staring at the rope
Sitting on the edge of the void, wondering what to do.
The rope was tight, all the lead drained out of him
Poor little pencil abandoned by his family, stuck here for years
All he ever had was pencils and rulers, he was too young to die
The pencils and rulers fell to their infinite deaths
And they will all be remembered in our hearts to the end of time.

September 7, 2015
by Charlotte

Art with Friends: Curious Journeys

In August 2015 Glynn Vivian Art Gallery invited artist Rebecca Rendell to run a series of workshops inspired by the journeys of Richard Glynn Vivian, the founder of the Gallery, and other Welsh artists. The workshops for 5-12 year olds took place from 18 to 20 August 2015, during the school summer holidays and offered participants creative activities in storytelling and picture making.

Rebecca Rendell, Art with Friends: Curious Journeys, August 2015

Rebecca Rendell, Art with Friends: Curious Journeys, August 2015

The ‘Art with Friends’ workshop series is supported by the Friends of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and took place at the YMCA, Swansea. Participants heard a selection of stories from artistic journeys and adventures, and were encouraged to share their own travel memories and fantasies through words and drawings.

Rebecca Rendell, Art with Friends: Curious Journeys, August 2015

Rebecca Rendell, Art with Friends: Curious Journeys, August 2015


Inspired by the popular curiosity cabinets of the Renaissance period and the assemblage work of Joseph Cornell, each child created their own mini museum or memory box, using drawing, painting, collage and sculptural techniques. The memory boxes were filled with travel souvenirs and fun stories, and stacked together to create one big curiosity cabinet. A selection of images of the memory boxes has been collected and presented by Rebecca in an animation that can be viewed here.


September 4, 2015
by Charlotte

The Wakelin Award 2015: Alexander Duncan

carved rams horn, mammoth tusk, deer antler. 2015. made in collaboration with peter welsh

carved rams horn, mammoth tusk, deer antler. 2015. made in collaboration with peter welsh

Join us for the presentation of this year’s Wakelin Award which is taking place this Saturday, 5 September at the Grand Theatre in Swansea.

The annual award is given to a Welsh artist, whose work is purchased for the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection. Previous award winners include Robert Harding, David Tress, Pete Davis, Craig Wood, David Garner, Tim Davies, Dick Chappell, Brendan Stuart Burns, Anthony Shapland, Catrin Webster, Jonathan Anderson, Meri Wells, David Cushway, Helen Sear and Clare Woods.

The winner for 2015 is Alexander Duncan.

Alexander Duncan was born in Swansea in 1985, studied at Swansea College of Art (UTSWD), and has recently finished an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in London. Alexander Duncan works primarily with sculpture, sought objects, video and photography.

This year’s selector is Tim Davies, Professor of Fine Art at Swansea College of Art (UTSWD). The work he has chosen for the Glynn Vivian Collection is entitled –  like swimming –  a sculptural work made in 2015, which takes the form of a stack of coloured foam floats usually used in swimming pools, but which, significantly,  are made of concrete.

Alexander Duncan, 'like swimming' 2015, Courtesy of the artist

Alexander Duncan, like swimming 2015, Courtesy of the artist

Selector, Tim Davies, says of the work: “Alex has always been interested in where and how we place ourselves in the world, the position of the body in relationship to other objects and situations, which can only be sensed through the actual experience of the materiality of objects. This sculptural work, which resembles a float – a piece of foam bitten scratched and clung to – offers a reflective moment about our connection with water. It suggests how we like to be in control of our environment but, when touched or lifted, this work takes us to an unexpected edge between reality and illusion, provocatively questioning our own sense of such certainties. In a wider context, the accompanying film which Alex is generously gifting to the Gallery – wavy gravy – reflects hundreds of people crammed into an enclosed space – a ‘tsunami experience’ – slowly rising and falling with artificial waves. This work poignantly mixes a strong sense of foreboding with a bizarre otherworldly lightness, questioning the vulnerability of the human condition, and whether in fact we are in control of our future destiny.  Alex has always focused on important contemporary issues, often closely relating to sustainability, and the recent significant and successful developments in his work suggested that this would be an important time to include his work in the Glynn Vivian collection”. 

Alexander Duncan says, “The sculptural works and the film on display were inspired by my interest, as described by Adam Carr, ‘in what is real and what is imitating the real? How we respond to something that is both, or rather, something that sits between these two diverging states?’ I am delighted that my work will be joining this major public collection in Swansea, my home town, and I am pleased to have been selected. The Wakelin Award offers recognition and is enabling for artists such as myself, and I would like to thank the organisers for their generosity. I am sure there are many other artists who will be supported by the Award in time to come”.   

The Award is administered by the Friends of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and is generously supported by donations in memory of Richard and Rosemary Wakelin, who were themselves artists and active supporters of the arts in Swansea. Their son, Dr Peter Wakelin, said, “‘It is important for both artists and museums that current works are added to the collections of the future. We are very grateful to the Friends of the Glynn Vivian for supporting this Award and helping to maintain the Gallery’s reputation as one of the best places to see Welsh art, even in this period when it’s closed during major refurbishment. People are always astonished when they find out how small the purchasing budgets are for public galleries in Wales, which need all the help they can get to represent current Welsh art in their collections.”

Jenni Spencer-Davies, Curator, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery says ‘The Wakelin Award has enabled the Gallery to acquire many significant works for the collection over the last sixteen years. We are very pleased this year to acquire remarkable work by Alexander Duncan, especially as he is a Swansea artist.  The Award is truly supportive of artists working today, and the Gallery is deeply appreciative of the continuing generosity of the Award’s supporters and the Friends of the Glynn Vivian, organisers of the Award. Our warmest thanks also to the artist Alexander Duncan and Tim Davies for making such an informed choice, and to the Grand Theatre for generously hosting the Award this year.’  

The Award will be presented at 3pm, Saturday 5 September at the Grand Theatre. Admission is free.

July 23, 2015
by Charlotte

Glynn Vivian at Olion Festival

Glynn Vivian Young people’s group – Black Kettle Collective will curate the Alternative marquee at Olion Youth Festival on Saturday 25 July, 11am – 5pm at Paradise Park, Townhill. Olion Festival celebrates young people and the arts, and is managed by young people for young people.

BKC Olion Festival

Utilising their experiences of working with the Gallery, and drawn from their own interests and passions, Black Kettle have programmed activities that will inspire and engage young people across the city.

In the lead up to the festival, Swansea Metropolitan Performing Arts and Theatre Studies Graduate, Alun Merrill has led a series of tie dye workshops for all ages.

On Saturday 25 July at the Alternative Marque Black Kettle will lead DIY Zine-making and Flag of Flag workshops to capture the mood and essence of Youth and the Olion Festival.

We’ll be raving to Experimental music and there will be opportunities to try VJing throughout the day.

Black Kettle Collective develop youth-led events and projects in response to Swansea and their own needs in partnership with the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and its regional, national and international partners.

Open to anyone aged between 14 and 24 years old, Black Kettle Collective is constantly changing and evolving through the range of interests of the members of the group. For more information or to join Black Kettle Collective visit our website.

Follow @klackbettle on twitter

July 10, 2015
by Dan

New “on Air” podcast released

In our online talks archive, Artists, curators and creative professionals have spoken about their individual creative practices, the Gallery’s permanent collection, and a host of themes that coincided with significant topical events and dates in the local and national calendar. In this episode Swiss painter Andreas Rüthi, gave a talk about his work and the European tradition of still life painting in relation to modernism and more recent critical writing on still life, recorded in May 2014.

June 4, 2015
by Katy

Richard Billingham: Ray


Glynn Vivian Art Gallery will premiere a major new film installation by Richard Billingham offsite at the Ragged School, Swansea opening this Friday 5 June, 6-8pm. Billingham shot to fame in the nineties with his beautiful and often disturbing photos of his family, the body of work called Ray’s a Laugh. Ray sees artist Richard Billingham return to these early photographs that he captured of his family to tell a universal story of everyday conflicts, love and loss. At times shocking and laced with unsettling humour, Ray is a film about pain, addiction, loneliness and control.

Ray was filmed on location in Cradley Heath, West Midlands, in the same housing block that Billingham grew up in with his family. By using the artist’s original photographs as a visual reference, the film captures the texture and atmosphere of his family life in the early 1990s through a painstakingly recreated set.

The film features Patrick Romer as Billingham’s father, Ray; Richard Ashton as his home-brew supplying neighbour, Sid, and Deidre Kelly, star of Channel 4’s documentary ‘Benefit Street’, plays Ray’s volatile wife, Liz.

Richard Billingham lives in Swansea. He was the first recipient of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 1997 and was nominated for the Turner Prize, 2001. His work is held in many international public collections such as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, Tate and the V&A, London. He holds professorships at The University of Gloucestershire and Middlesex University.

Director: Richard Billingham
Producer: Jacqui Davies
Director of Photography: Daniel Landin BSC Cast Ray: Patrick Romer Liz: Deirdre Kelly Sid: Richard Ashton

Ray is supported by Arts Council Wales, Arts Council England, agnès b, FIDLab and Panavision, University of Gloucestershire and Glynn Vivian Art Gallery

Produced by Jacqui Davies. Courtesy Anthony Reynolds Gallery

The exhibition is open Wednesday – Saturday 6 June – 18 July, 11 – 4.30pm
Ragged School, 1-2 Pleasant Street, Swansea SA1 5DS

May 7, 2015
by Dan

Launch of Glynn Vivian Art Gallery On Air podcast channel

The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery Learning team has been running a busy programme of talks, workshops and artists’ residencies from their offsite home at the YMCA since 2012. Artists, curators and creative professionals have spoken about their individual creative practices, the Gallery’s permanent collection, and a host of themes that coincided with significant topical events and dates in the local and national calendar.

Having digitally recorded and archived the talks, the Gallery is excited to announce their upcoming podcast channel that will give people the opportunity to listen to the talks again, and for them to be available to a wider audience. On Air  will release a new talk bi-weekly and provide an opportunity for a global audience to engage with the diverse and informative programme of talks that the gallery has been successfully delivering since the redevelopment began.

Glynn Vivian Learning Officer, Tom Goddard, said, “I am proud of the hard work of the team that has gone into launching ‘On Air’ our artist talks programme, which will archive all our talks for posterity and share the thoughts of leading practitioners and academics in Wales, with other communities worldwide.

“Our Artist Talks complement our diverse exhibitions and events programme and through the series, we hope offer the community, specifically students and practising artists, the opportunity to hear artists, historians and curators talk about their current practice, concerns and the community that inspires them.”

As the programmes are produced by the Gallery, we have also created an introductory jingle, which was selected via an open submission. The jingle chosen was produced by a local young band (all the members are under 13), Crisps and Donuts, who had previously performed at Glynn Vivian’s Young People’s Group battle of the bands event, Crash.

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April 23, 2015
by Charlotte
1 Comment

Five questions to: 55+ Group – Heather Andrews

Heather Andrews
1. How did you first get involved with the Glynn Vivian?
I like to go to life drawing at the Swansea Print Workshop and it was there I first heard about the 55+ group at the Glynn Vivian.  The project was modelling clay heads and so I went along.  I enjoyed it so much that attending is now a permanent part of my week.

2. What have you gained from your time with the gallery?
Before joining the gallery I painted in isolation I didn’t know any other artists.   The 55+ group gave me the opportunity to make friends with artists of different abilities.  The projects using different media, the varied themes and the support and guidance I received soon sparked my enthusiasm and improved   my confidence.

3. Can you tell us about your most memorable experience?
After one of the exhibitions Tom Goddard asked me to loan the gallery 3 of my paintings as one of the city councillors wanted to hang them in his office. This was a big boost to my confidence.

4. What’s happening for you next?
A 3 year degree in illustration at University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) .

5. Has the gallery changed your perspective in any way?
Three years ago I would never have dreamt of doing an art degree, I was lonely, directionless and isolated.  The support and encouragement I received at the gallery has helped me focus on my work and has led directly to me having the opportunity to pursue a new life.  The most important thing I’ve learnt is no matter how old you are you can still achieve amazing goals.  All you need is a little help from your friends!

March 31, 2015
by Katy

Five questions to: Black Kettle Collective’s Kwesi Idun

12219211315_94443b4ba2_k 1: How did you first get involved with the Glynn Vivian?

I first joined the Glynn Vivian Young Peoples’ Group in August 2013, when the gallery hosted a fortnight of performance workshops, which ranged from comedy performance to script writing and character development.

2:What have you gained from your time with the gallery?

When I joined the group, I had just graduated from a BA Drama degree at the University of Cumbria in Lancaster. I was in a horrible position – saying goodbye to a significant chapter of my life and saying hello to the ‘real world’. Being part of the Glynn Vivian Young Peoples’ Group gave me a unique opportunity to utilise the performance skills I had acquired in both college and university and not allow them to go to waste.

3: Can you tell us about your most memorable experience?

There are so many!

  • Let’s See What Happens is definitely one. If I ever visit China, I’ll be able to impress the locals by making a mean load of Chinese Tea.
  • Meeting new people. Many fantastic friendships have formed as a result of both the group and this specific project, and I hope they last a lifetime.
  • The change from Glynn Vivian Young Peoples’ Group to Black Kettle Collective. I wonder which young, handsome and dashing genius thought up that name? I suppose we’ll never know!

DJIS Vagabond4: What’s happening for you next?

This summer, I began looking into and researching Postgraduate courses in Communication Studies in the United States. After compiling a shortlist of places, and doing my best to avoid anywhere that requires the dreaded Graduate Record Examination, I narrowed the list down to three places: Arizona State University, University of Northern Iowa and Northwestern University. Following a highly-successful Skype interview in February – for which the gallery provided the laptop – Northwestern University offered me a place on their ten-month MSc Communication course, which I have accepted. If all goes well with funding, visas, etc, I will be Chicago-bound in August. Thanks for the reference, Tom!

5: Has the gallery changed your perspective in any way?

Coming from a highly-artistic family (on my mother’s side, anyway) – but not being artistic in the ‘conventional’ sense myself – I was apprehensive about getting involved with an art-related organisation. I had a pre-conceived dislike for the subject, growing up in a home filled with canvases thanks to being the long-suffering son, cousin and nephew of artists. However, being part of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery has changed my perspective. I now realise that art can exists everywhere. Drama is art, friendship is art, LIFE is art! It doesn’t simply have to be on a canvas or a wall (Yes, Banksy, I am referring to you!)

March 23, 2015
by Charlotte

Just Us: Independent Living Skills students open exhibition of work

Just Us: Independent Living Skills Students Exhibition Poster

Just Us: Independent Living Skills Students Exhibition Poster

In January 2015, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, as part of its 4Site Secondary School programme, began a 10 week project with a group of students from the Independent Living Skills (ILS) department at Gower College Swansea. Based at Gower College Swansea’s Ty Coch Campus, the ILS department offers a range of courses that are tailored to students with specialist learning needs.

The focus of the exhibition Just Us is on the work that the students created over the course of the project and is based on the theme of Self Identity. The aim was to capture snapshots of their own individual lives and personalities. To help them achieve this, the group has been working closely with artist Anna Barratt and the Learning team at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. Although the students are not full time art students, they have successfully demonstrated their ability to produce interesting and meaningful contemporary artwork. The exhibition opens at 1pm in the White Room at Swansea Grand Theatre on Tuesday 24 March. It will be open to the public 10am – 5pm until Friday 27 March.


Just Us: Independent Living Skills Students Exhibition

Glynn Vivian Art Gallery launched a dedicated 4Site Secondary School programme back in January 2014. The aim of the programme is to provide pupils and teachers with an informal and exciting introduction to our city art gallery through the contemporary and historical exhibitions, the Gallery collection, and sharing the history of the Gallery and its founder, Richard Glynn Vivian. The programme is delivered by professional contemporary practitioners from all disciplines including painting, music, drama and sculpture.

Glynn Vivian Art Gallery’s 4Site Secondary School programme has evolved and we now work closely with selected comprehensive schools on specific projects. The students at Gower College Swansea, like other school groups, had a term to complete a project of their choice with an artist. The Gallery works in partnership and consultation with the teachers and students to provide high quality outcomes for all who participate.

Just Us: Independent Living Skills Students Exhibition

Just Us: Independent Living Skills Students Exhibition

Prior to the Gallery’s re-opening we are looking to evolve and further develop our Secondary Schools programme, therefore if you have an idea for a project please feel free to contact us for a discussion.

Limited spaces available, places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.

If you are interested in the scheme and would like further information please visit our website or for an initial discussion please contact Charlotte Thomas by telephone on 01792 516900, or email

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