Many Voices, One Nation is a touring exhibition curated by Ffotogallery and the Senedd.
Commissioned by the Senedd, the exhibition formed part of the programme of events and activities to mark the first 20 years of devolution in Wales.
The exhibition uses photography and lens-based media to explore the hopes and aspirations for the future of Wales. Six artists living and working in Wales were commissioned, incorporating photography, video and lens-based media, digital imaging, installation and mixed media. The exhibition aims to capture the richness and diversity of the geography, culture and society of Wales, and, wherever possible, encourage public participation.
Many Voices, One Nation launched at the Senedd in September 2019 before touring to the Aberystwyth Arts Centre in 2019 and Redhouse, Merthyr Tydfil 2020. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the exhibition was unable to tour to Galeri Caernarfon as scheduled, but an online portfolio can be viewed at ffotoview.org
During the GWLAD festival Ffotogallery held a Q&A with some of the artists whose work featured in the exhibition:
Luce + Harry
The 1956 Hungarian Uprising saw 20,000 migrants enter the UK, fleeing hostile conditions after the revolution was crushed by Soviet forces. Many came to Wales, and 96 were to call Pontypridd their new home, one being Luce's grandfather. Nearly 65 years later, a new wave of Eritrean refugees are fleeing violence from an oppressive regime, circumstances similarly out of their control. Many have again been welcomed by Wales. Through the process of taking photographs, collating archival footage, and recording interviews, the artists present a narrative that reflects the experiences of Hungarian migrants in Wales; a tale of warmth, assimilation and hard work. Alongside this they have photographed the newly formed Eritrean communities, who are now hoping for the same. The project promotes the welcoming nature of Wales, celebrates the diversity of Welsh people, and shares the hopes and aspirations of the future families of Wales.
For Many Voices, One Nation, Bowes has produced a series of portraits in moonlight of a hill farming community in Radnorshire. The tenant farmers of the Elan Estate in the Elan and Claerwen Valleys keep sheep on the open hill, which they gather with their neighbours, often on horseback, forming a close community and passing down a traditional way of life.
Brexit, and economic and environmental concerns including climate crisis, create uncertainty for the future upland farmer in Wales. The members of this community just starting their lives as farmers are embracing continuity. Significantly, there are several young women in the new generation. Using moonlight as her sole light source, Bowes explores this liminality, placing people in the land where they are the current and historic custodians.
Locally, people are known by their first name followed by the name of their farm. [Image: Owen 'Treheslog'].
While many may have heard of the Welsh colony in Patagonia, Argentina, less well known is the Welsh diaspora to America. As someone who emigrated from North Wales to New York, Brydon had always been looking for a connection to his home. One year he discovered the Remsen Barn Festival in Upstate New York, a village fete and celebration of the Welsh heritage in the area. Stalls and village buildings were festooned with Welsh flags and dragons. Subsequently, he discovered the breadth of the Welsh immigration to America, and the impact it has had.
This discovery led him to work on a project he calls "The Singing Hills", named after the choral tradition of the Welsh, which is celebrated in the churches and community centres of Upstate New York just as it is throughout Wales. Through portraits, landscapes, and images of life, his project portrays the Welsh communities in America and their links to North Wales. His aim is to build a body of work that draws a visual line of connection between the people, land, and life in Upstate New York and North Wales, their similarities and differences, and their hopes for the future.
Huw Alden Davies
Exploring 'new' territories, studying the concept of a micro generation described as Xennials (an original analysis through photographic practice), 'Dreaming in Colour' examines an uncharted generation bridging the gap between two eras described as X gens and Millennials, while broadening the perspective of Welsh culture through the use of photography and lens-based media.
Set in and around a small ex-mining village in the Gwendraeth Valley, at the dawn of a new era, this project is a multimedia collaboration, providing a modern and unclichéd perspective of 'Welsh-ness', and a rare look into one of Wales lesser explored culturally rich communities. Celebrating the wonder of childhood, friendship, and all things Welsh, Dreaming in Colour tells the tale of an 80s generation that saw the best of both worlds, old and new, while expanding the visual identity of Wales beyond its stereotypes.
James Hudson tells a story of an off-road bicycle journey from the historical Machynlleth Senedd to the present day Senedd in Cardiff. Ideas and material for the story have been created whilst cycling along the route, engaging in the physical environment and being open to chance encounters.
This modern pilgrimage serves as a reminder that there was a Senedd in Wales' past as well as being a celebration of Wales' democratic history and progress. Cycling is a positive, inclusive activity and a key part of the Active Travel Act passed by the Senedd in 2013. Off-road cycling has both an interesting history in Wales and a growing future throughout the country - which is already considered one of the best places for off-road biking in the UK. As a work of graphic art fiction, as opposed to a more straightforward documentation, the project aims to expose to new audiences the activity, history and value of both off-road cycling and the Senedd.
Much of Pountney's work is about Wales' past, industrial and social, and he is interested in looking towards what is used to develop notions of nationhood as the country moves away from its traditional image of heavy industry and coal mining. He has followed the development of Welsh Youth Parliament with interest, and now creates portraits of its representatives, capturing them in a series of regional events and showing the diverse backgrounds and narratives that have led to them becoming Welsh Youth Parliament members.
Senedd, September 2019
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, November 2019
Redhouse Merthyr Tydfil, February 2020