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Pamela Howard’s Welcome to Wales celebrates Welsh immigrant artists

Cardiff Old Library: 24th – 30th March 2024

Welcome to Wales installation. credit Jake Morley

International theatre designer and RWCMD International Chair in Drama Pamela Howard OBE is back in Wales, working with local communities, with a free installation at the Old Library that retraces the stories of immigrants who’ve travelled through and to Cardiff.

‘Welcome to Wales’ is a unique retelling of poignant journeys and the welcome the country gave to so many artists, performers and musicians, including Pamela’s own  ancestors: she has been working on this story her whole life.

As part of the installation performances will take place each morning and evening, with performers including Sian Phillips and Frank Barrie as well as RWCMD students and members of the local community.

Pamela has led a community of RWCMD student designers, composers and arts management students from both the College and Tel Aviv, to create this installation through mixed mediums of visual art, research and video supported by music, acting, dance and sound.

A key element to this project is the interaction with the local community – actively targeting families, teenagers and older people and working with diverse and under-represented communities – to take part as performers or to create a response to the work. RWCMD staff and students will be supported to learn more about these communities as part of this project to help underpin the College mission of being a ‘Space for Everyone.’

Pamela Howard with RWCMD Director of Drama Sean Crowley and Lady Anya Sainsbury. Credit Jake Morley

‘The project of my life:’ moving from the dark to the light

‘This is the project of my life: the world is wider than just the place on which you stand,’ said Pamela. ‘It’s got everything to do with all of us. Throughout history art is the great civiliser.

This project is designed to help others tell their stories in as positive and creative a way as possible. I started with telling my story, but my aim is to make this installation universal, so it’s not specific to one group – the stories can be shared among anyone who comes to take part in it.

As we watch the news every day, we see how displaced people under the most difficult of circumstances manage to progress from the dark to the light. This is the mirrored in this installation for the visitor.‘

Inspiring RWCMD Design for Performance students

Perhaps most crucially for us in Wales, she helped to create the first Dalek, but Pamela Howard has created countless shows in her seven-decade career, as well as training some of the UK’s top stage designers. She’s possibly the most influential designer in the country (named a ‘living legend’ by the Prague Quadrennial, the world’s most prestigious celebration of theatre design and scenography) and has worked as a designer for the National RSC, Old Vic among many others.

Pamela has been actively working with the College over the last 17 years, and has been the International Chair in Drama since 2015.

‘The College’s innovative approach to design provides unique opportunities for students entering the theatre profession. It’s vision of multi-disciplinary education in the arts, without compromise to the subject, has earned world respect,’ she said. ‘I love the fact that the College gives me a place to be so free and experimental. It’s so open to diversity and to things they don’t yet know about.’

Pamela has been a significant inspiration in the College’s success in the prestigious bi-ennial design award The Linbury Prize – almost half of the 60 finalists over the last five Linbury Prize years have studied at RWCMD. Pamela’s retrospective ‘The Art of Making Theatre’ was hosted by RWCMD in 2022.

‘The success of her engagement with our students has been tangible in our success as a part of The Linbury Prize,’ said Director of Drama, Sean Crowley. ‘From first meeting Pamela at the Linbury Prize in 1999, she has been a significant inspiration for students and staff. This installation is as much a story of generations welcomed to Wales and Cardiff as it is of Pamela’s relationship with the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. ‘