The National Library of Wales
Brand new and exciting works of art have been welcomed to the National Art Collection in the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.
As part of the library’s Anti-Racist Project, four artists – Joshua Donkor, Jasmine Violet, Mfikela Jean Samuel and Dr Adéọlá Dewis – have received a commission to create new works of art in response to its collections, whilst facing some difficult or challenging aspects of history.
The result is new works of art which contribute to the library’s work to decolonise the collections and which contribute to improving the diversity of art so that it can be a better reflection of Wales.
Joshua's work is a portrait of the writer Eric Ngalle Charles which will be a valuable addition to the 15,000 items in the library's portrait archive.
Jasmine has based her work on an image and maps within the library’s collections, that portray the sugar plantations in 18th century Jamaica that have a Welsh connection and focuses on the difficult and controversial history of slavery and colonialism.
The new work by Mfikela responds to British Government publicity maps of West Africa that were created in the 1940s and distributed through Central Information Office. Her work draws attention to what was omitted and looks at how maps influence our perception of the world.
Dr Dewis has chosen to focus on the connections between the Fari Lwyd and the Jonkonnu festival in Jamaica in her work. She uses the library's graphic collections that portray the Fari Lwyd as a starting point.
Rhian Gibson, the library’s director of communications, engagement and partnerships, said: “The work of ensuring that our collections represent the diverse history and experiences of the people of Wales is central to the library's work and core to our strategic aims.
“We're extremely glad therefore to welcome these new works, which will enhance representation within the National Art Collection.”
Morfudd Bevan, the library’s art curator, said: “It has been a great experience working with these four extremely talented artists on this very important project. It is essential that we have open and honest conversations about our collections in order to create improvements and to educate ourselves about the hidden history of Wales.”
During October, Black History Month, the library is celebrating acquiring these works by displaying them and with two special events. Joshua’s portrait will be on display in the Reflections exhibition for the month, whilst works by Jasmine and Mfikela can be seen in the Wales to the World exhibition in the Riverside Gallery, Haverfordwest, which runs until February 24 next year Dr Dewis’ work will be on display in the library soon.
On Tuesday this week, at the library, Joshua and the author Eric Ngalle Charles discussed the portrait, their careers and connections between Wales and Cameroon with the poet Ifor ap Glyn.
Today (Thursday) at 5pm, at the Riverside Gallery, Haverfordwest, Jasmine and Mfikela will discuss their work in a conversation with the library’s assistant curator of maps, Ellie King. They will look at the challenges and importance of decolonisation through the prism of maps and art.
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