Welsh Global Solidarity – The Objects That Connect Us 2022
About The Exhibition
This pop up exhibition provides a snapshot of Welsh engagement with global solidarity, cultural, political and social issues over the years.
Showcasing the heritage of Welsh global solidarity with objects that uncover the many stories, contributions and campaigns, expressed through artefacts and visual arts that bring these histories to life.
In a world that seems so fractured it is important to remember that we are more connected than ever by our past, present and future.
This exhibition is part of Hub Cymru Africa’s ‘Case for Solidarity’ campaign funded by the FCDO.
With thanks to WCIA, Craig Owen, Gunel Mamedova, Harry Iles, Fair Do’s and Da-Ti for their invaluable contributions. Photography by Rhodri Brooks.
- Photos 1 & 2: Welsh League of Nations peace campaign Linen Hangings, 1927.
Wales has been instrumental in the global campaign for peace. The ‘Welsh League of Nations Union’ held its first meeting in 1922. This text on the linens was taken from the 1927 report. The first conference in Llandrindod Wells was attended by hundreds Wales-wide.By the 1930s, over 1,000 local League of Nations Union branches were active across Wales, with 60,000 members campaigning on world issues of the day. The aim was to enable every community in Wales to play an active role in organising for world peace – involving local branches, women, children, churches, schools, parliamentarians, civic leaders and international allies.
- Photos 3 & 4: Refugee Journeys textile hanging, Menai Bridge, 2015.
This textile was created by school children in Menai Bridge in response to the stories of refugees fleeing persecution following the Arab Spring in North Africa. The cards capture some of their names and personal stories, from coverage in Welsh media at the time.
- Photo 5: Women’s Peace Appeal, Petition, 1923.
Women in Wales organised a campaign for world peace. 390,296 women signed a memorial petition through the Welsh League of Nations Union calling for America to join and lead the new League of Nations to prevent the outbreak of another war in the aftermath of World War One.
They went on to present the memorial binding to US President Calvin Coolidge at the White House in Washington, followed by a 2 month ‘Welsh peace tour’ across the United States.
- Photo 6: First UN General Assembly Agenda, London, 1946.
The first United Nations General Assembly was held in London in January 1946 organised quietly by a team seconded from Wales’ Temple of Peace. A ‘British Welcome’ staged at the Royal Albert Hall had a distinctly Welsh flavour.The Choir of Wales’ Temple of Peace sang songs – including ‘Nos Galon’ and ‘Men of Harlech’. The keynote address was delivered by Lady Megan Lloyd George, Wales’ first female Member of Parliament, for Anglesey.More Information.
- Photo 7: Russian Doll, Matryoshka, 1966.
The Russian Doll or matryoshka was presented by a Russian Youth Delegation to IVS/UNA International Service Workcamp in Butetown, Cardiff. Within her, 14 more dolls represent future generations, hopes and aspirations for peaceful coexistence. One of the first ‘real human contacts’ since the Iron Curtain separated West and Eastern Europe since the end of World War 2, generating Cold War conflicts across Africa.
The visit was significant as it was a tense time in international relations, so the matryoshka was a symbol of international cooperation and understanding. Inscribed around the base with a message commemorating the exchange. Since 1973, UNA Exchange has facilitated many thousands of peace workcamps and international placements between Wales, Europe and the wider world – including across Africa.
- Photo 8: Paul Robeson and Proud Valley Poster, 1940.
Paul Robeson was an American singer, actor, Civil Rights campaigner and social activist who found a kinship with Wales. Robeson identified with the plight of the Welsh miners and contributed to their cause.
He was inspired by Wales and the country helped to mould his political outlook and determination to strive for equality on a global scale. In 1940 he released a film The Proud Valley, filmed in the Rhondda valley. In defiance of a CIA clampdown on black Civil Rights activists, in 1957 Robeson opened the Eisteddfod and annual conference of the National Miners Union in Porthcawl via a secretly staged transatlantic phone link, singing ‘Land of My Fathers’, to rapturous acclaim and public response.Welsh Miners bombarded the US Supreme Court with petitions, embarrassing them into returning his passport in 1958 – to continue speaking out on anti-racism and civil rights, drawing common cause between Welsh working classes and African American peoples.
- Photo 9: Dolen Cymru Lesotho Basotho Hats, 1983.
Mokorotlo, a Basotho hat, is national symbol and dress of Lesotho in Southern Africa, Wales’ Twin nation since the world’s first ever ‘country to country’ twinning was established in 1985 through Dolen Cymru Lesotho, the Wales Lesotho Link.
Dolen Cymru Lesotho was launched as a two-way partnership between Wales and Lesotho. Where links initiated by individuals, communities, organisations, and governments, both in Wales and Lesotho, have led to common action and shared learning. These hats were gifted on a visit to the Basutho parliament in Maseru by Craig Owen, then Wales Africa Community Links coordinator, ahead of the Dolen’s 25th Anniversary.
- Photo 10: Welsh Highland Railway, Porthmadog, Wales Africa Road Sign, 2012.
The 2012 UN Gold Star Awards, presented at the Senedd, showed Wales’ innovative twinning links across Sub-Saharan Africa with colourful roadsigns which aimed to build solidarity.
The Welsh Highland Railway between Porthmadog and Caernarfon is an inspiring example of Wales-Africa cooperation in action: rebuilt with track, trains and expertise from South Africa, through Gwynedd volunteers – now one of Snowdonia’s premier attractions.
- Photo 11 & 12: Idris the Dragon – Make Poverty History Campaign, 2005.
Created by a team of WCIA and Oxfam Cymru volunteers, ‘Idris the Dragon’ became Wales’ mascot leading marchers participating in anti-poverty campaigning events in towns across Wales-wide, in the months leading up to the UK-hosted G8 Summit in Scotland.
Idris was one of the most visible icons for a campaign that mobilised many thousands in support of more and better aid, trade justice and debt relief. The public support generated across Wales led to the Welsh Government’s creation of the Wales for Africa programme.
- Photo 13: African Woven Baskets and a Bag and Purse, Fair Do’s, Cardiff, 2022.
These products are from Nairobi made by disabled artisans and have been supported by a Welsh practitioner. Fair Do’s is a Fairtrade shop and social enterprise based in the Canton area of Cardiff since 1998.
Fair Do’s ensure that everything in the shop is bought from suppliers who carry the fair trade mark, or have been accredited by the British Association for Fair Trade Shops (BAFTS) or the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO).
- Photo 14: Hiwire Cards – Guitar Players and Cyclists, Fair Do’s, Cardiff, 2022.
The cards are made in western Kenya, the card itself is made from water hyacinth. The graphics make use of recycled materials and no two products are exactly the same. These cards are a product of Kitsumu Innovation Centre, originally funded and now self-sufficient.Photo 15: Wired and beaded Flamingo and Cheetah and Wooden Carved Elephant and Lion, Fair Do’s, Cardiff, 2022.
These products are from Nairobi made by disabled artisans and have been supported by a Welsh practitioner.
- Photo 16: Landmine Exhibit, UNA Wales Landmines Campaign, 1996.
This display travelled to communities throughout Wales in the early 1990s raising awareness of the horrors of cluster munitions and public support for a Ban on Landmines.
This ‘mine warning’ notice in Khmer – from Cambodia – had become a common, tragic and terrifying sight across Africa and Asian communities A prominent supporter of the campaign to ban landmines was Diana, Princess of Wales who made an infamous visit to Angola in 1997.The Rwanda Wales Goodwill Link from Swansea were recognised in the 2018 St David’s Awards, for their quiet work over 2 decades continuing to support landmine clearance and post-genocide recovery projects in Rwanda.
- Photos 17 & 18: Afro-Mac African Print Upcycled Trench Coat, Da-Ti, Cardiff, 2021.
Da-Ti are a Welsh slow, ethical fashion brand based in Cardiff at The Sustainable Studio. The upcycled trench coat features Ugandan prints that celebrate the mixed heritage of the designers and the focus on representing BME and LGBTQ+ communities in Wales and the world.
Sarah Valentin and Julia Harris are behind Da-Ti and The Sustainable Studio and have worked in the Butetown and Grangetown areas. They’ve built strong relationships with people from various backgrounds, including refugees, asylum seekers and diaspora communities.
- Photo 19: ‘Zimbabwe’ Sculpture, Harry Iles, 1980.
The sculpture is in Abergavenny library to celebrate the twinning between Abergavenny Town Council and Domboshawa, Zimbabwe.It has made a huge impact on the community partnership in solidarity with peace, harmony and humanity. ‘Zimbabwe’ was created when the country was first born. Wales, Africa and Global Solidarity are the key themes of some of Harry’s best work over his long career.
Video – Solidarity with Chartists.
- Photos 20 & 21: Tell us the story of the drums
These African drums were found in the Temple of Peace and we want to know what story they had to tell. Could you help us? We’d love to read your stories about the history of the drums. Email us: email@example.com
Writing Tips:Where are they from? Who owned them? How did they get to Wales? How old are they?Here’s our story:Amari looked out to the river to try and calm his nerves but he could hear his heartbeat through his chest. In the morning he would marry Imani, a beautiful girl but someone he barely knew.
He could hear the sounds of the wedding ceremony preparation in the background and it did little to put him at ease.
Suddenly he felt a presence by his side and his Uncle Chima appeared with a huge grin on his face. He patted Amari on the shoulder and looked out to the river.
Chima had carried two drums with him and pointed at the tall drum with an encouraging nod. Drums are used across Africa to celebrate all parts of life and a wedding was no exception.
Chima began to move his hands rhythmically over the smaller drums and produced a beat that got faster and faster. Amari could not help but smile and joined him, they got in a harmonious pattern and played until the sun set.
A new day was approaching and the start of a new life for Amari and Imani.