Amgueddfa Blog: Casgliadau ac Ymchwil

‘Who’s who in Magelona’ is a question I have asked myself for the 20 years or more that I have worked with marine bristleworms, but are we closer to knowing the answer?


Marine bristleworms, as the name suggests, are a group of worms that are predominately found in our seas and oceans. They are related to earthworms and leeches and can make up to 50-80% of the animals that live in the seabed. 

I am a taxonomist, and as such, part of my role is to discover new species that have never been seen before, which I then get to name and describe, so other scientists can identify the newly discovered species. I may also rediscover new things about species we have long known about. Although people may not know much about marine bristleworms they are vital to the health of our seas, so understanding what species we have and where they live is an important part of protecting our oceans.

Magelonids, or shovel head worms to give their common name, are a beautiful group of worms, whose spade-shaped heads are used for digging in sands and muds at the bottom of the sea. Of course, I may be biased in thinking they are beautiful, having spent over two decades studying them, I shall let you decide! They are unusual, even amongst bristleworms, and it is for this reason that we have often had trouble relating them to other marine bristleworm groups, or even understanding how they are related to one another.  As part of my job, I have discovered and named species from around the world, including species from Europe. I am currently investigating up to 20 new species off West Africa, and the similarities they share with those here in Wales, but that is a story for another day!

We cannot understand the natural world without first understanding how life on earth is related to one another. With this in mind, we have been looking at shovel head worms and the relationships between them. We have been working with colleagues in the USA and Brazil to answer this question, looking at different characteristics, for example, the size and proportions of the head and body, whether they have pigment patterns or whether they are known to build tubes. Due to the number of different characters and the numbers of species studied it has taken a long time to process the results. However, the results have just been published in the journal PeerJ, so we can share with others our findings. If you want to read more about ‘Who’s who in Magelona’ then the article can be downloaded here from their web-site.



A large part of our work in the Art Department at Amgueddfa Cymru is researching and working on new acquisitions for the collection. Even with the Museum closed for much of the last 18 months, activity has continued behind the scenes on developing our collections.

With the Museum reopening, we thought we would put together a small group of these new acquisitions in Gallery 11 at National Museum Cardiff that we hope you will enjoy. There is an eclectic mix of work; from Welsh artists, artists working in Wales and some leading national and international figures of modern and contemporary art.

New acquisitions

An individual acquisition can sometimes take months or even years to complete, with a great deal of work going into research and fundraising. We are incredibly grateful to artists and individuals who often donate work to us, and also to Trusts and Foundations who help us to buy pieces – and in particular the Derek Williams Trust. So, while some of the new works that are on display in have arrived at the Museum over the past few months, many have been worked on by curators for 2-3 years in some cases.

Also, what is currently on show is actually a small fraction of what has been collected over the last year or two. The development of the Art Collection has been an ongoing, century long project – one that never stops and is key to the Amgueddfa Cymru collections more generally remaining relevant and dynamic. That said, there is a great deal more to do in terms of what our collection says about Wales in the 21st century as the National Collection of today is also an important artistic and historic resource for future generations.

Below is some information on each of the new works on display. But what better way to appreciate them than by coming to the Museum and seeing them in person!

The organic and the systemic

Magdalene Odundo’s impressive terracotta vessel Asymmetric I has a strong anthropomorphic character. It seems to allude to a pregnant female body and promise new life. Odundo draws on African traditions to emphasise the power of pots to heal.

In contrast to Odundo’s organic making style, David Saunders, in works like Black Transformation (1973-74, oil on canvas), relies on logical and mathematical processes to produce a systematic method of creating work.


Shaped by life experiences

A strong theme of this display is the way that artists draw on their own experiences, either their own life histories or in response to the landscapes and histories of Wales. Gareth Griffith’s Bertorelli recalls his childhood memory of a double portrait in the Bertorelli ice cream parlour in Caernarfon. He later purchased the portrait and reworked it into this piece.



Exploring the landscape

Mary Lloyd Jones
Pwerdy Ceunant (2019)

Mary Lloyd Jones’s abstract paintings explore the landscape as a place of memory, culture, and identity. Ysgwrn (2018) is named after the farm where poet Hedd Wyn (1887-1917) grew up prior to being killed in the First World War, while the place names and calligraphic signs in Pwerdy Ceunant (2019) allude to Coelbren y Beirdd, the alphabet that Iolo Morganwg invented and claimed was that of the ancient bards.



Urban and industrial Wales

Bernd and Hilla Becher’s Preparation Plants, 1966-1974 (gelatin silver prints)

Urban and industrial Wales are an equal source of artistic inspiration. In Winter Night with Angharad no.7 (2006, oil and plaster on board), Roger Cecil (born into a mining family from Abertillery) draws parallels between the landscape and the human body. Bernd and Hilla Becher’s Preparation Plants, 1966-1974 (gelatin silver prints) is one of their typologies, a grid of nine photographs of a single type of industrial structure that was once a familiar feature of the industrial ecosystem of the south Wales Valleys.

André Stitt’s Municipal Wall Relief for a Housing Complex in a Parallel Universe (2015-16; oil, acrylic and enamel on wood panels) also looks back to what now seems a bygone age, capturing the modernist optimism of post-war architecture and town-planning.


Plan your visit

These artworks are now on display for the first time in the art galleries in National Museum Cardiff. Access to the museum is free, but you will need to pre-book a free ticket in advance. Please see our Plan Your Visit page for more information.


With thanks

Amgueddfa Cymru is grateful to Mary Lloyd Jones, David Saunders, the estate of Roger Cecil, Art Fund, the Derek Williams Trust and the Henry Moore Foundation for their generosity in making these acquisitions possible.

Amgueddfa Cymru is home to almost 1,400 paintings and drawings by Augustus John (1878-1961). A prolific portraitist, John painted many notable figures such as the poet and writer Dylan Thomas and the musician Guilhermina Suggia. He also made frequent sketches – in both pencil and oil paint – of unnamed people he encountered in everyday life. One such work in our collection has recently had its sitter identified thanks to the crowd-sourced resource Art Detective, where art lovers and experts can discuss artworks in public UK collections.

The work in question depicts a distinctive looking woman with cropped hair and a full fringe, sporting an inquisitive expression on her face. While the model’s dress and lower body is loosely sketched out, her face is richly detailed, suggesting that she was known to the artist.

A discussion about this painting was launched on Art Detective after Dr. Margot Schwass wrote in to share her research into Greville Texidor (1902-1964) and her belief that this is the “lost” Augustus John portrait of the author and world traveler. Schwass comments that: “When I chanced across an image of the portrait in the Amgueddfa Cymru collection, I knew straight away that it was Greville”. This prompted a lively and well-researched discussion among other Art Detective users, leading to our curatorial team being utterly convinced that this is in fact a portrait of Texidor, who, it was uncovered, worked as John’s secretary in the early 1920s.

We would like to thank Dr. Schwass for contributing her research and helping us learn more about this work in our collection. Her 2019 book All the Juicy Pastures is the first to tell the story of Texidor's extraordinary life.

You can read more about Art UK’s Art Detective Network here.

The next steps in a Professional Training Year

It’s been a little while since my last blog post and since then there has been a lot of exciting things happening! The scientific paper I have been working on that describes a new species of marine shovelhead worm (Magelonidae) with my training year supervisor Katie Mortimer-Jones and American colleague James Blake is finished and has been submitted for publication in a scientific journal. The opportunity to become a published author is not something I expected coming into this placement and I cannot believe how lucky I am to soon have a published paper while I am still an undergraduate.

There are thousands of scientific journals out there, all specialising in different areas. Ours will be going in the capstone edition of the Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, a journal which covers systematics in biological sciences, so perfect for our paper. Every journal has its own specifications to abide by in order to be published in them. These rules cover everything from the way you cite and reference other papers, how headings and subheadings are set out, the font style and size, and how large images should be. A significant part of writing a paper that many people might not consider is ensuring you follow the specifications of the journal. It’s very easy to forget or just write in the style you always have!

Once you have checked and doubled checked your paper and have submitted  to the journal you wish to be published in, the process of peer reviewing begins. This is where your paper is given to other scientists, typically 2 or 3, that are specialists in the field. These peer-reviewers read through your paper and determine if what you have written has good, meaningful science in it and is notable enough to be published. They also act as extra proof-readers, finding mistakes you may have missed and suggesting altered phrasing to make things easier to understand.

I must admit it is a little nerve wracking to know that peer reviewers have the option to reject all your hard work if they don’t think it is good enough. However, the two reviewers have been nothing but kind and exceptionally helpful. They have both accepted our paper for publication. Having fresh sets of eyes look at your work is always better at finding mistakes than just reading it over and over again, especially if those eyes are specialists in the field that you are writing in.

As you would expect, the process of peer-reviewing takes some time. So, while we have been waiting for the reviews to come back, I have already made great progress on starting a second scientific paper based around marine shovelhead worms with my supervisor. While the story of the paper isn’t far along enough yet to talk about here, I can talk about the fantastic opportunity I had to visit the Natural History Museum, London!

We are currently investigating a potentially new European species of shovelhead worm which is similar to a UK species described by an Amgueddfa Cymru scientist and German colleagues. Most of the type specimens of the latter species are held at the Natural History Museum in London. Type material is scientifically priceless, they are the individual specimens from which a new species is first described and given a scientific name. Therefore, they are the first port of call, if we want to determine if our specimens are a new species or not.

The volume of material that the London Natural History Museum possesses of the species we are interested in is very large and we had no idea what we wanted to loan from them. So, in order to make sure we requested the most useful specimens for our paper, we travelled to London to look through all of the specimens there. We were kindly showed around the facilities by one of the museum’s curators and allowed to make use of one of the labs in order to view all of the specimens. The trip was certainly worth it. We took a lot of notes and found out some very interesting things, but most importantly we had a clear idea of the specific specimens that we wanted to borrow to take photos of and analyse closer back in Cardiff. 

Overall, I can say with confidence that the long drive was certainly more than worth it! I’m very excited to continue with this new paper and even more excited to soon be able to share the results of our first completed and published paper, watch this space…

Thank you once again to both National Museum Cardiff and Natural History Museum, London for making this trip possible.

Fel rhan o'n dathliadau PRIDE Abertawe eleni, byddwn yn ymchwilio i hanes hynod ddiddorol yr awdur a'r diwydiannwr llwyddiannus, Amy Dillwyn, ac yn cyflwyno darn perfformio am ei bywyd ar 16eg Gorffennaf. Dyma'r Athro Kirsti Bohata o Brifysgol Abertawe i ddweud mwy wrthym amdani. I ddarganfod mwy am hyn a'n holl ddigwyddiadau PRIDE Abertawe, ewch i

Roedd Amy Dillwyn yn berson arloesol. A dyna, oedd ei llysenw ymhlith ffrindiau: ‘The Pioneer’. Yn awdur, yn ymgyrchydd ffeministaidd ac yn ddiwydiannwr llwyddiannus (peth prin iawn i fenyw yn yr 1890au) gwnaeth y gorau o'i llwyfan cyhoeddus i eiriol dros hawliau menywod. Trwy ei hysgrifennu a'i phersona cyhoeddus, dangosodd y gallai menywod fod yn wydn, yn anturus ac yn glyfar. Gwrthododd normau benywaidd, gan osgoi unrhyw ddiddordeb yn ffriliau cyfyngol ffasiwn menywod (heblaw am daflu llygad gwerthfawrogol dros y ffurf fenywaidd). Yn lle hynny fe feithrinodd hunaniaeth rhyw cwiar (yn ei dyddiaduron roedd hi unwaith yn meddwl tybed a allai fod yn ‘hanner dyn’) a daeth ei het Trilby, esgidiau trwchus, sgert ymarferol a’i ‘sigar dyn’ yn symbolau eiconig o’i honiad i ymreolaeth.

Portread o Amy Dillwyn. Delwedd trwy garedigrwydd teulu Morris

Er iddi ddisgrifio'i hun fel 'dyn busnes', a dal rolau cyhoeddus amlwg gan gynnwys Cadeirydd Bwrdd yr Ysbyty, canfu fod ei mynediad i ganolfannau pŵer economaidd (fel Ymddiriedolaeth Harbwr Abertawe) wedi'i gwahardd gan y rhai a oedd yn gwrthwynebu ei rhyw ac, mae un yn amau, y rhai a oedd wedi derbyn ei siarad plaen. Ni ddioddefodd ffyliaid. Fe ddadnoethodd rhagrith, aneffeithlonrwydd ac anghymhwysedd ymhlith y pwyllgorau dynion y bu’n gwasanaethu arnynt gan ennill ei pharch mewn rhai chwarteri ond yn anochel gwnaeth elynion mewn eraill. Cafodd ei herlid o Fwrdd yr Ysbyty yn union wedi iddi godi'r arian ar gyfer ysbyty ymadfer newydd, mater a gafodd ergyd drafodaeth fanwl dros gyfnod yn y wasg.

Fel ymgyrchydd ffeministaidd, nid oedd ganddi ddiddordeb mewn ennill y bleidlais drosti ei hun yn unig - er iddi roi’n hael i Gynghrair Rhyddid Menywod militant a dod yn llywydd cangen Abertawe o National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) - siaradodd o blaid cyflog teg ac amodau ar gyfer menywod dosbarth gweithiol. Ym mis Mawrth 1911 rhannodd blatfform gyda’r undebwyr llafur Mary MacArthur (1880-1921) a Margaret Bondfield (1873-1953), a ddaeth yn AS Llafur yn ddiweddarach, mewn protest yn erbyn ‘llafur caeth’. I gynulleidfa o winaduresau trawiadol a'r cyhoedd, dadleuodd Dillwyn 'Nid oes gan gyflogwyr hawl i ... falu [pobl dlawd] i gymryd cyflogau annheg neu i wneud iddynt dderbyn amodau llafur annheg' a galwodd ar Abertawe i foicotio'r siop, Ben Evans. Trafodwyd yr ymgyrch (a amlygodd arferion anghyfreithlon yn ogystal ag anfoesegol) yn Nhŷ’r Cyffredin.

Er ei bod hi'n arloesi fel diwydiannwr a menyw eiconoclastig a wrthododd gael ei hymddygiad (neu wisgo) yn ôl confensiwn Fictoraidd, etifeddiaeth fwyaf parhaol Dillwyn yw ei ffuglen a'i phwysigrwydd i hanes llenyddol lesbiaidd. Yn fywiog, yn ffeministaidd ac yn dwyn cyffyrddiadau aml o'i hiwmor sych, mae nofelau Dillwyn yn dychanu rhagrith ei dosbarth ei hun ac mae'n ysgrifennu am anghyfiawnder cymdeithasol o safbwynt y dosbarthiadau llafur. Ei thema barhaus, fodd bynnag, yw cariad ac awydd o'r un rhyw. Weithiau mae hyn yn agored: yn A Burglary (1883) a Jill (1884) mae merch ifanc yn datblygu ‘diddordeb rhyfedd’ ac atyniad i fenyw ychydig yn hŷn (ac yn gyfoethocach). Weithiau mae ei phlotiau'n fwy dichell, yn aml yn cynnwys cuddwisg neu drawswisgo: yn The Rebecca Rioter mae dyn dosbarth gweithiol (wedi'i seilio'n rhannol ar Dillwyn ei hun) yn cwympo mewn cariad â dynes dosbarth uwch (tra hefyd yn ffansio dyn arall!) sy'n awgrymu pob math o ddarlleniadau queer, traws a deurywiol.

Olive Talbot a'i thad C. R. M Talbot o Gastell Margam. O gasgliad Amgueddfa Cymru

Gellir olrhain y pwnc dychweliadol o fenywod sy'n caru menywod, a'i diddordeb mewn cariad diwobrwy rhwng pob math o bobl, i fywyd a phrofiad Dillwyn ei hun o serch. Yn 15 oed, syrthiodd Amy Dillwyn mewn cariad â Olive Talbot (1843-1894), merch miliwnydd lleol, C. R. M Talbot o Gastell Margam. Roedd Amy ac Olive yn ffrindiau agos, yn cyfnewid anrhegion, ac yn aros gyda'i gilydd mewn amryw o dai a chyrchfannau gwyliau. Er bod Amy yn galaru na atebwyd ei chariad ‘rhamantus… angerddol… ffôl’ tuag at Olive ond unrhywbeth ond anwyldeb ‘cyffredin’, erbyn 1872 roedd Dillwyn yn cyfeiro at Olive yn ei dyddiaduron fel ‘fy ngwraig’. Parhaodd Olive yn ganolbwynt byd emosiynol ac erotig Amy am y 15 mlynedd nesaf o leiaf (fel y manylir yn ei dyddiaduron unigryw sydd yn anffodus yn dod i ben ym 1875 pan gafodd Dillwyn lawdriniaeth), ac yn ôl pob tebyg yn llawer hirach, os yw tystiolaeth ei nofelau (a gyhoeddwyd yn ystod yr 1880au), yn cael ei ystyried.

Er nad ydym yn gwybod yn union sut y gwnaeth eu perthynas ddatblygu neu ddirwyn i ben - treuliodd Olive flynyddoedd olaf ei bywyd byr yn Llundain tra roedd Dillwyn yn lled-afiach yn Abertawe - mae etifeddiaeth cariad Dillwyn a'i archwiliad creadigol o awydd o'r un rhyw yn gwneud cyfraniad rhyfeddol at lenyddiaeth Fictoraidd queer. Mae ei nofelau, ynghyd â’i dyddiaduron eithriadol o onest (a gedwir ym Mhrifysgol Abertawe ac sy’n cael eu golygu i’w cyhoeddi ar hyn o bryd), yn cynnig mewnwelediad cymhellol i fywyd queer yng Nghymru’r bedwaredd ganrif ar bymtheg.

Am rhagor o wybodaeth am Amy Dillwyn ymwelwch â Geiriadur Bywgraffiad Cymru:

Mae ffotograffau o Olive Talbot wedi'u cynnwys mewn casgliad o ffotograffau gan John Dillwyn Llewelyn, sy'n rhan o gasgliad Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru. Mae Mark Etheridge, Curadur NMGW: Diwydiant a Thrafnidiaeth, yn rhoi cyflwyniad i'r casgliad yma: John Dillwyn Llewelyn - Ffotograffydd Arloesi Cymru | Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru

Gallwch gyrchu hwn a chasgliadau ffotograffig eraill sydd dan ein gofal yma: Casgliadau Ffotograffig | Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru

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