Creative Responses

In 2020 the Welsh Government published an audit on public monuments, street and building names associated with the slave trade and the British Empire which also touched on statues and place names associated with Black history.

It found commemorations of only seven individuals of Black heritage in Wales, despite the fact that there have been Black people contributing to life in Wales for centuries.

Cadw’s Creative Responses project, which we’re delighted to be supporting, which makes a start on rectifying this.

Together, our two organisations commissioned the poet Alex Wharton to research and write about a number of notable individuals. Using poetry, song, and film, Alex has conveyed the stories of prominent figures in the world of entertainment, sport and academia, creating tributes to people including Iris de Freitas, Clive Sullivan and Betty Campbell.

Here is a video of his poem The Gardener, inspired by John Ystumllyn (c1736-1786), one of the UK’s first known Black gardeners:

You can experience all of Alex’s work on this project on Cadw’s website here.

These pieces are the start of a journey to commemorate a wider range of people and to recognise the diverse ways in which they contributed to the Wales we see today.

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