Amgueddfa Blog

Samuel Sequeira, Cydymaith Ymchwil, prosiect Ffoaduriaid Cymru

It was the summer of August 2007. After finishing our holidays in the area in Germany where my wife was born, we (my wife and I) were waiting for a delayed flight from Frankfurt to Heathrow, London. Finally, when the flight arrived, and we were about to board there was chaos as all started rushing towards boarding. An officer was checking our passports and as usual I had no reason to be anxious because my visa and resident documents were in order. 

Despite having all travel documents perfect when the officer took our passports he took inordinately longer to examine them, and to our shock he looked at me as said, “Sir, I want you stand aside” while handing over my wife’s passport to her to proceed towards boarding. But my wife, who is German by nationality, would have none of this and she took up a fight with the officer asking for an explanation. The officer was livid with rage and could not believe the anger displayed by my wife. Also, the crowd was growing impatient. Obviously, having no legitimate reason other than my skin colour and Indian nationality, the officer had to relent. But his minute-long stare at me was something that has remained with me even today. Whenever I read or watch the long caravans of migrants struggling to crossover myriad real and imaginary borders to reach a place of safety my own experience at Frankfurt airport comes to haunt me. This and several more such small but unforgettable experiences at border crossings have inspired me embark on a research area that relates to migrants and refugees.

When I embarked on my doctoral research at Cardiff University some years ago I focussed on the group of South Asians who had migrated to the UK (Wales in particular) since Indian partition in 1947 as labourers, professionals, students, refugees as well as those who were ousted from African countries in the 1970s. During my doctoral years I recorded stories of their home that they had left behind, their migration process, settlement, and life in the UK. Being of Indian origin I, too, have shared their migration experience and viewed this area of research most suited to my interests and personal experience. Having completed my PhD in 2016 and while looking for an opportunity to continue my research career I found this current research project: Refugee Wales having received funding support and I saw this as a great opportunity to research on Sri Lankan Tamil community in Wales.

Prior to arriving in the UK, I had worked in India as a journalist. Being from South India I was keeping a close tag on what had been going on Sri Lanka during the time by way of civil war. I have witnessed the plight of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India from close quarters and empathised with their plight. It was very sad that the issue that arose due to real or perceived discrimination led the Sri Lankan Tamils go to the extreme situation of taking up arms and demand a separate homeland. Failure of the state to resolve this ethnic issue and the intransigence of the radical groups among Tamils led to the final war that ended in the defeat and encampment of thousands of Tamils in 2009. I personally had felt a tinge of sadness when the Tamil Tiger leader Prabhakaran was killed and the Sri Lankan state was celebrating the triumph. My sadness was not for the demise of Prabhakaran but for the defeat and humiliation suffered by a proud and valiant people who fought for their rights and equality within Sri Lankan nation.

The media images of mass- graves, destroyed villages and people in camps huddled behind barbed wires soaked in monsoon rain and ragged condition still haunt me. As a journalist I was always imagining what stories those people behind barbed wires may have had to tell. Now, with this project, I have an opportunity to listen to at least some of those who suffered those years of conflict, state oppression and war and yet managed to escape to the safety of Britain. Their stories of how they managed to escape, what trauma they suffered while crossing those borders and, finally, ending up being settled in the UK will inspire others who go through a similar experience. These stories will no doubt help the state and the wider community to view the issue of migrants and refugees beyond the pale of legality and deal with it as a human condition requiring compassion and assistance. As for the Sri Lankan Tamils in Wales it is their opportunity to imprint their story on the canvas of the larger story of Wales as a multicultural nation. That is why I am delighted to be part of this interesting research project.

https://refugee.wales

Lewis Weston Dillwyn (1778-1855)

Lewis Weston Dillwyn is part of the influential Dillwyn family in south Wales during the 19th century. They were pioneers in photography, culture, industry, politics and science. Lewis Weston himself was a campaigner for social justice, a Whig MP for Glamorgan (1832-37), mayor of Swansea (1839) and a magistrate. He studied the natural world and advanced our scientific understanding of it, becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society and a founder member of the Royal Institution of South Wales.

Lewis Weston was born 1778 to William Dillwyn, an American Quaker and anti-slave campaigner. After settling in England in 1777, William was one of the 12 founding committee members for the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade formed in 1787. In 1802, William established Lewis Weston Dillwyn, then aged 25, as owner of Cambrian Pottery in Swansea. A year later Lewis Weston moved to south Wales and four years after that married Mary Adams, heiress of John Llewellyn, firmly establishing the Dillwyn-Llewellyn family’s influential position in south Wales. He was an abolitionist like his father but was also close friends with the De la Beche family who owned slave plantations up until the early 1830s. His son Lewis Llewellyn Dillwyn married Elizabeth De la Beche in 1838.

It was mainly during the time he was head of Cambrian Pottery that Lewis Weston studied algae.

The Book of Algae

Lewis Weston had a scientific interest in the natural world, most notably plants, beetles and molluscs. At a time when art, industry and science were often pursued in conjunction with one another rather than separately, he introduced many natural history designs onto the products made at his Cambrian Pottery.

The Museum holds Lewis Weston Dillwyn’s book of pressed seaweeds and algae. Inside are over 280 specimens of algae from both fresh and seawater, mainly from Wales and England. Many are thought to have been collected by Dillwyn himself, and many were sent to him by scientists from the UK and Ireland. The book contains algae that were completely new to science and described by Dillwyn for the first time. Some of these new to science algae were discovered for the very first time in Wales. The book is an early record of the natural heritage of Wales and a glimpse into the scientific life of a prominent 19th century philanthropist.

New to Science

It was particularly between 1800 and 1810 that Lewis Weston Dillwyn focussed on algae. He noted that Linnaeus, who was classifying the whole of the natural world, “was too busily engaged in the immense field he had entered on, to spare the time necessary for an investigation of the submerged Algae.” (Dillwyn, 1809, British Confervae). Dillwyn felt he had found a niche for his scientific study.

The algae that Lewis Weston studied was a group with very thin fine branching known as the Confervae. He collected specimens, pressed them and placed them into the book now held at the Museum. His many connections led to a network of scientists who would send him specimens he was interested in to his home in south Wales. He described 80 kinds of algae new to science.

Someone in Dillwyn’s position could afford to buy a microscope powerful enough to study this group which have very small features. He would also have needed expensive books and his standing in society meant he was able to access the libraries of friends such as William Jackson Hooker and of the Linnaean Society in London, where he was made a Fellow. It also meant he was able to discuss current thinking with other prominent scientists of the time and gauge where to place his efforts.

At the time, there had been little work done on this difficult to study group. Dillwyn knew the algae he was looking at were probably unrelated, but in his published work he put them into one group. He had done the initial pioneering groundwork to describe them but he himself modestly admitted that it was flawed. The pressed algae in his book at the Museum includes what scientists now know belong in many different groups: green algae, red algae, brown algae, lichens, fungi, cyanobacteria, stoneworts and diatoms. Dillwyn published the results of his studies in instalments, culminating in the publication ‘British Confervae’ in 1809.

 

Further reading

The Diaries of Lewis Weston Dillwyn, transcribed by Richard Morris: https://www.swansea.ac.uk/crew/research-projects/dillwyn/diaries/lewis-weston-dillwyn-diaries/

The Dillwyn Dynasty by David Painting (2002): https://www.swansea.ac.uk/crew/research-projects/dillwyn/dillwyn-day/dillwyn-dynasty/

British Confervae by Lewis Weston Dillwyn: https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/bibliography/2189#/summary

Ar gyfer wythnos grefftau Amgueddfa Cymru, rydym wedi bod yn gofyn i'n timau rannu eu hangerdd am grefft. Yma, mae Pennaeth Amgueddfa Genedlaethol y Glannau, Steph Mastoris yn rhannu ychydig am ei angerdd am Argraffwaith.

Drwy gydol fy mywyd gwaith (ac ychydig cyn hynny), rwyf wedi bod wrth fy modd gyda chrefft argraffwaith – y broses flêr o daenu inc dros deip metel a phren a gwasgu darn o bapur ar yr arwyneb i greu argraffiad prydferth, glân. Er ei fod yn swnio’n weddol syml, mae proses hir o brofi a methu cyn i chi allu creu argraffiad cyson o’r teip wedi’i osod yn daclus dro ar ôl tro i greu taflen neu lyfr. Nid yw hynny’n swnio’n arbennig o ymlaciol chwaith, ond fel y mwyafrif o grefftau, mae’n hynod ddiddorol ac yn ffordd wych o roi saib i’ch meddwl o’ch swydd arferol.

Y broblem fwyaf i unrhyw un sydd am roi cynnig ar argraffwaith yw bod angen cryn dipyn o gyfarpar hyd yn oed i ddechreuwyr. Cymerodd ryw ddeng mlynedd i fi i ddod o hyd i wasg argraffu fechan, a’r teip a’r manion i gyd i ddal y geiriau at ei gilydd er mwyn eu hargraffu. Ond criw cyfeillgar yw argraffwyr, sy’n hael eu cyngor a’u cymorth i bobl fel fi sydd heb eu trwytho yn y gelfyddyd inciog hon.

Gwaith Steph Mastoris yn sioe On the Brink 

Fel llawer o argraffwyr amatur, dechreuais drwy wneud fy nghardiau Nadolig fy hun, neu argraffwaith ar gyfer achlysuron arbennig megis priodas neu fedydd, gan ddefnyddio hen deip pren hyfryd sy’n hawdd ei osod ac yn creu gwead cyfoethog iawn, yn arbennig wrth argraffu ar bapur llaith wedi’i wneud â llaw. Dechreuais argraffu’r rhain ar ‘wasg nipio’ swyddfa, a ddyluniwyd yn wreiddiol i gopïo llythyrau wedi’u hysgrifennu â llaw cyn dyfeisio’r llungopïwr. Yna fe gefais wasg proflenni o weithdy carchar, ac wedyn, yn y 1990au cynnar, roeddwn yn ddigon ffodus i gael gwasg argraffu haearn bwrw Albion brydferth. Cafodd y wasg hon ei gwneud yn yr 1860au hwyr i ddyluniad gwreiddiol o tua 1820, ac mae’n dal i argraffu’n berffaith hyd heddiw.

Ychydig flynyddoedd ar ôl i mi symud i Abertawe yn 2004 i helpu sefydlu Amgueddfa Genedlaethol y Glannau, roeddwn yn ddigon ffodus i ymuno â Stiwdios Elysium - cwmni cydweithredol deinamig dan arweiniad artistiaid yng nghanol y ddinas. Roedd y gofod ychwanegol hwn yn golygu y gallwn ddefnyddio teip metel go iawn yn fy ngwaith. Yn bwysicach oll, roedd cael lle i fynd ar wahân i fwrdd y gegin, oedd angen cael ei glirio ar gyfer prydau o fwyd, yn golygu gallwn gymryd fy amser i feddwl drwy fy ngwaith yn drylwyr a mynd tu hwnt i greu testunau hardd yn unig.

Enghraifft o driptych wedi eu hargraffu gan Steph Mastoris mewn arddangosfa

 


 
O ganlyniad i’r rhyddid newydd hwn a’r cyfle i siarad ag artistiaid eraill, rwyf wedi ennyn diddordeb mewn defnyddio argraffwaith i arbrofi â chywreindeb iaith, lle mae atalnodi, ffurf a gosodiad yn gallu newid neu greu amwysedd yn yr ystyr. Ar ei ffurf symlaf, gall estheteg a thonyddiaeth teip pren wedi’i argraffu â llaw gael ei addasu’n radical wrth ei wneud sawl cant gwaith yn fwy. Techneg fwy cynnil yw defnyddio triptychau teipograffeg bach i dynnu sylw’r darllenydd at natur tri dimensiwn iaith wrth i eiriau tebyg a’r gwahanol ddistawrwydd rhyngddyn nhw gael eu cyfosod mewn teip plaen, wedi’i argraffu â llaw.

 

 

Mae’n bron i ddwy flynedd ers i ni agor drysau Sain Ffagan ar ei newydd wedd ym mis Hydref 2018. Yn ogystal â’r orielau newydd a’r brif fynedfa welwch chi wrth ymweld â ni, mae gennym bellach 80% yn fwy o ofodau addysg. Mae crefftau traddodiadol Cymreig bob amser wedi bod wrth wraidd Sain Ffagan, ond tan nawr, doedd gennym ni ddim lle i’ch ffitio chi gyd i mewn, rhoi ysbrydoliaeth i chi gyda’r eitemau ysblennydd yng nghasgliadau’r Amgueddfa, a gadael i chi wneud llanast enfawr ar y llawr.

Ond nawr, mae hynny i gyd wedi newid! Mae gennym ni 3 stiwdio yn y prif adeilad gyda thechnoleg grand a digon o le i symud. Maen nhw wrth ymyl ein Hystafell Astudio Casgliadau, lle gallwn estyn gwrthrychau gwerthfawr a bregus o gasgliadau’r Amgueddfa. Mae hyn yn rhoi cyfle i chi weld y pethau hyn, ac yn caniatáu i ni eu diogelu ar gyfer cenedlaethau’r dyfodol.

Yna mae Gweithdy, oriel a gweithdy crefft sy’n dathlu sgiliau gwneuthurwyr dros y blynyddoedd. Mae yno weithdy wedi’i osod gyda chyfarpar i gynnal gweithgareddau, ac offer mwy a rhagor o gyfleoedd i achosi anrhefn!

Ers 2015, rydym wedi bod yn ehangu ein rhaglen o gyrsiau crefft ymarferol. Pan oedd Sain Ffagan dal yn safle adeiladu, dechreuon ni gyda gweithgareddau nad oedd angen llefydd cyfforddus i’w cynnal. (Os ydych chi’n archebu lle ar gwrs wyna neu gwrs plygu gwrych, rhaid i chi ddisgwyl baw defaid/drain/tywydd garw!)

Wedyn, dros y ddwy flynedd ddiwethaf, rydym wedi ehangu i gynnwys pob math o bynciau newydd cyffrous:

  • Gwaith gof
  • Enamlo
  • Brodwaith peiriant gwnïo
  • Cerfio llwyau
  • Gwaith lledr
  • Plygu basgedi
  • Pobi bara
  • …a llawer mwy

Yn 2019-20 cynhaliom 80 o gyrsiau mewn 26 pwnc. A’r newyddion da yw ein bod ni wedi ehangu ein gorwelion ac rydym bellach yn cynnal sesiynau ym mhob un o’n hamgueddfeydd ar draws Cymru. Rydym wedi cynnal cyrsiau Gwaith Gof yn Big Pit a’r Amgueddfa Lechi yn Llanberis, Darlunio Botanegol yn Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd, a Brodio Llaw yn Amgueddfa Wlân Cymru.

Ers y digwyddiadau cyntaf yn 2015, mae dros 400 ohonoch chi wedi dod mewn, torchi’ch llewys a rhoi cynnig ar rywbeth newydd. Rhai ohonoch chi’n dysgu sgiliau newydd sbon, ac eraill yn mireinio’ch crefft. Rhai ar eich pen eich hun, ac eraill yn rhannu amser arbennig gyda’ch ffrindiau neu deulu. Mae’r ymateb wedi bod yn anhygoel.

Mae’r pandemig Covid-19 wedi dod â phopeth i stop am y tro. Ond, wrth edrych yn ôl yn ystod y cyfnod hwn, mae’n fwy amlwg nag erioed bod creu yn rhywbeth pwysig. Rydym yn gwybod bod crefftau’n dda i ni a’n hiechyd meddwl. Rydym yn gwybod bod dysgu sut i atgyweirio a charu’r hyn sydd eisoes gennym ni’n dda i’r blaned hefyd. Felly, byddwn ni’n ôl (pan fyddwn ni wedi datrys ambell beth) – ac edrychwn ymlaen at eich gweld chi bryd hynny!

Dyma rai o’r pethau hyfryd ddywedoch chi am ein cyrsiau:

  •  …lyfli gweld y Georgetown Oven yn cael ei ddefnyddio (Cwrs pobi bara)
  • Roedd y cwrs pobi bara’n wych, gyda’r bonws ychwanegol o bobi’r bara yn ffwrn Georgetown
  • Roedd mynd i fewn i’r oriel i weld y casgliad o hen gadeiriau yn ffordd fendigedig o ddangos i ni y technegau oedd yn rhan annatod o greu stôl’ (Creu stôl bren)
  • Roedd tiwtor y cwrs yn arbennig o amyneddgar, cefnogol, medrus, caredig a doniol. Am nodweddion arbennig! (Gwaith lledr)
  • Doeddwn i byth wedi dychmygu y byddai gennym ni’r cyfle i fod mor ymarferol (Cwrs Wyna)

It’s a pleasure to be able to share our thoughts as a Youth Leadership Network on Amgueddfa Cymru's platform. The SSAP Youth Leadership Network is the youth arm of the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel. It constitutes a group of highly driven and critical young leaders from diverse backgrounds.

In our last meeting, we hosted a discussion on the topical issue of statues and paintings that relate to British colonial history, particularly those of Thomas Picton here in Wales. The session was chaired by Dr. Sarah Younan from National Museum Cardiff. We were joined by the highly esteemed comparative sociologist educator Abu Bakr Madden Al Shabazz, Dr. Douglas Jones from the National Library of Wales and the Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru, David Anderson. A noteworthy and recommended resource used here is James Epstein's “Politics of Colonial Sensation: The Trial of Thomas Picton and the Cause of Louisa Calderon” in the American Historical Review.

The following are excerpts from the discussion including key events in the history of Picton: the slavocracy he was responsible for as governor of Trinidad, his well-known trial for accusations of misconduct abroad (involving the torture of Louisa Calderon) and thereafter, his deployment to Spain, death at Waterloo and posthumous honorary tributes in the form of statues, paintings, and some literary works.

Who was Thomas Picton?

Picton was commissioned in 1771, and was, according to the description on his portrait by Sir Martin Archer in the National Museum Wales collections, "a controversial governor of Trinidad in 1797-1803". The details of the said controversy are well illustrated in his trial for inflicting torture on Louisa Calderon (The Trial of Governor T. Picton for Inflicting the Torture on Louisa Calderon a Free Mulatto and one of His Britannic Majesty’s Subjects in the Island of Trinidad, (London, 1806)).

The trial of Picton

To sum up the details of the trial, a cause célèbre at the time, we turned to the blog by Dr. Jones for the National Library of Wales. In 1806, Picton was called to a trial at the King's Bench following his authoritarian and brutal rule in Trinidad. The accusation leveled against him was signing off an order for torture at the request of a highly influential planter, Begorrat, a planter also responsible for the execution of a dozen slaves at the time of the torture in question. Several things made this torture notable, not least amongst which are the following facts. It was the torture of a 14-year-old freed girl. It was the first trial for misconduct of an official in the execution duties while in service abroad. And, as Willian Garrow, the lead prosecutor, noted at the trial, it was the first time torture had been used officially in Trinidad.

While the details of the case are unique, its nature is ubiquitous, the misconduct of a high official under the influence of highly influential personnel, devoid of moral courage, and hidden away using technical legalities. This is how Picton was found guilty at the initial trial, but would 2 years later find himself never to be sentenced. In fact, he would go on to serve the British empire in Spain and would end up as the highest-ranking official to die at Waterloo, eventually being buried in St Paul's Cathedral a national hero. His public exoneration was about as swift and inexplicable as this outlined turnaround of events. 

Depicting Picton Today

Today, he has a statue honouring his memory in Cardiff City Hall among the heroes of Wales, a portrait in National Museum Cardiff, and an obelisk in Carmarthen.

Perhaps the most unfortunate thing in all this is how the majority of us have become complicit in the obliteration of the history and memory of that free Mulata girl, Louisa Calderon. Instead, we have willingly or unwillingly contributed to the ever-growing memory of Sir Thomas Picton, as polarising as it has always been.  By obliterating the memory of Louisa Calderon, we have severely distorted our collective view of the big man. And readily, we have reduced Louisa to a single case, a stain in both the history of Picton, and British colonial history, a stain which regrettably many have washed away in a falsified sense of pride in the man.

If we attempt to reconfigure this distorted view of Picton to what we know was the more complete form of the man, many will be offended. They have every right to be, because many of them were lied to. They were never afforded the chance to make their own true and more complete judgement of the man. But they must take this offense, the rage at the sense of betrayal, and rightly turn it to the overdue redress. And now is the opportune time to do that.

The leadership panel suggests a number of ways in which this is possible

Suggestions for moving forward

The first and unquestioned is the removal and resituating of the current statues and paintings. The purpose of this is not to remove figures like him from history, but rather to put them in a contextualized environment, where their complete history can be more truthfully and completely told. This will allow our present-day collective memory of such figures to be rid of the bias that's been wrought by failure to tell their histories in the proper colonial context and in environments that allow all members of the public to digest this history.

Secondly, and an extension to the first recommendation, is multi-level education across different institutions responsible for public and private education. Notably, the attempts to re-educate the public should not place sole importance on the humanities but must make an honest attempt to diversify the contents of curricular in subjects such as the sciences.

We encourage members of the public to take an active role in engaging in the public discourse on the future of such statues, monuments, and memorabilia. These should not reflect the views of the elite few, but the public.

Our work with young people at Amgueddfa Cymru is part of the Hands on Heritage initiative kindly supported by the National Heritage Lottery’s Kick the Dust fund  - changing perspectives on heritage with the help of young people.