Exhibition at Pontio Bangor: Refugees in Wales

09 June 2023

An exhibition telling the real-life stories of people who have found refuge in Wales over the years will be on display at Pontio Bangor from 8-28 June.

‘Refugees from National Socialism in Wales: Learning from the past for the future’ tells the stories of those who found sanctuary in Wales after fleeing from Central Europe due to the National Socialist dictatorship, and draws parallels with modern-day refugees who are making Wales their home.

The exhibition includes artworks, objects, photographs, and literature created by refugees and those working alongside them, both in the past and the present day.

It has been co-curated by Dr Andrea Hammel and Dr Morris Brodie from Aberystwyth University’s Centre for the Movement of People, in collaboration with refugees and those who are assisting refugees with resettlement in Wales.

The exhibition was curated as part of the Second World War and Holocaust Partnership Programme, led by Imperial War Museums and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Dr Hammel, Director of the Centre for the Movement of People at Aberystwyth University, said:

“As a nation, Wales has a long history of providing sanctuary for refugees. Our exhibition gives a voice to these refugees, and allows us to discover their stories through their own words and pictures. The refugees who resettled in Wales in the 1930s and 1940s made this part of the world their home, and are now very much a part of the fabric of Welsh life and culture. The same is true of the Syrians, Afghans and Ukrainians who followed them and are already having a cultural and economic impact in Wales, establishing businesses, raising families, introducing new cuisine, and much more.

“Through the material collated together in the exhibition, we intend to highlight and interrogate the refugee experience in Wales, by addressing questions about the diversity of Welsh society, religious and linguistic differences, and social, educational and economic challenges. Our project seeks to encourage learning from the past for the future.”

Dr Hammel has also been collaborating with Aberystwyth-based filmmaker Amy Daniel, working alongside groups of refugees and those who help them, to develop a creative response linking different refugee stories in Wales.  The film will be screened as part of the exhibition.

The exhibition has previously been on display at the Senedd and Pierhead Galleries in Cardiff, the Palace of Westminster in London, and Aberystwyth Arts Centre.