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Gallery artists offer a warm welcome to Swansea

The Glynn Vivian’s new City of Sanctuary Welcome Banner.

Visitors to Swansea’s Glynn Vivian Art Gallery have produced a colourful new artwork offering a welcome to all.

Members of the venue’s Welcome Group worked together to produce two 230cm x 150cm banners to celebrate Swansea’s ongoing City of Sanctuary status.

City of Sanctuary is a national movement committed to building a culture of hospitality and welcome, especially for refugees seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.

The banner – through embroidery and needlework – expresses what Swansea’s commitment to the movement means to members of the group.

The Welcome Group is one of the regular creative workshops run by the Glynn Vivian team for the community. It’s a safe place for refugees and people seeking asylum to come together, to learn, socialise and to make art. It’s open to all.

Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “The banner is a wonderful expression of how welcoming we are as a city.

“The project has helped bring people from all walks of life together to celebrate the amazing multicultural city we live in.

“Using skills and creativity, the wall hanging demonstrates that, through empathy and friendship, creativity can bring people together even under trying circumstances.

“This week (June 14-20) is Refugee Week so it’s right that people have the chance to see this banner now.”

The banner was on show throughout last week – UK Refugee Week.

It remains on show this week to help mark the 11th anniversary of Swansea City of Sanctuary and tomorrow to mark Windrush Day in honour of the British Caribbean community and those who travelled to the UK after World War Two.

The banner will be on show at the Glynn Vivian until October.

The banner’s creation – carried out safely in line with pandemic restrictions – was led by Glynn Vivian associate artist Mary Hayman. She was supported by Swansea-based artists Hanam Beko, Nylah Mak and Arwen Roberts.

Mary Hayman said: “Art can change your life and this group helps change lives for the better.

“Having this work shown publicly is further recognition that our members are valued citizens of Swansea.”

City of Sanctuary project co-ordinator Thanuja Hettiarachchi said: “We were delighted that the Glynn Vivian enabled us to work on one of their projects with Mary Hayman; she and the gallery have been so kind and inspirational with this amazing activity.

“It’s a great pleasure to see this amazing creativity from the members of the community. This project shows the bond between sanctuary seekers and Swansea.

“I thank the Glynn Vivian for accommodating sanctuary seekers in all its activities and helping us celebrate Swansea City of Sanctuary.”

Other council activity undertaken with Welcome Group members has included the installation of portraits on city centre hoardings and the delivery of mosaic workshops  run by volunteer artists Armâgan and Neşe.