Through a programme of inspiring exhibitions, workshops and talks, Hay Castle will host ‘Artistiaid Ffoadur Cymru Refugee Artists’ which will celebrate Welsh stories of hospitality, humanity, and hope through the lens of art made by refugee artists who have been welcomed to Wales from the 1940s to the present day. 

It will also explore the role that local communities play for those artists seeking refuge.

At the centre of this unique project will be an exhibition entitled ‘Josef Herman: Artistiaid Ffoadur Cymru Refugee Artists’, which runs from Thursday, September 28, to Tuesday, November 14. 

Josef Herman, a Jewish émigré from Poland, was one of the greatest depicters of life in a Welsh mining community, having settled in the village of Ystradgynlais where he stayed for 11 years.

His work is said to raise relevant contemporary questions over the interplay between local and migrant identities.

Josef Herman (1911 Warsaw, Poland – 2000 London, England) Refugees, c. 1941
Josef Herman (1911 Warsaw, Poland – 2000 London, England)Refugees, c. 1941. (Hay Castle Trust)

The exhibition, housed in The Hay Castle Gallery, will not only showcase fourteen of his paintings but will also comprise works by Maurice Sochachewsky, Martin Bloch, Fred Uhlman, Bettina Adler, Heinz Koppel and Harry Weinberger. 

These have been brought together for the first time thanks to generous loans from the Ben Uri Gallery, Brecon Y Gaer Museum, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Big Pit National Coal Museum, Martin Bloch Trust, Trinity Hall Cambridge, as well as from private collections.  

Refugees by Josef Herman c 1941
Refugees by Josef Herman c 1941. (Hay Castle Trust.)

In the adjacent Sculpture Gallery, there will be a parallel exhibition of works made by those currently seeking sanctuary in Wales, including some members of the Ukrainian community and other victims of forced displacement, who have the passion and courage to create.

A spokesperson for Hay Castle Trust has said: "This exhibition will comprise displays that celebrate the artists’ cultural traditions, showcase their own work across all art forms, or present objects significant to their identity and personal journey. 

"Artistiaid Ffoadur Cymru Refugee Artists’ is curated by Dr Sarah MacDougall (Director: Collections, Exhibitions and Research, Ben Uri Research Unit for the Study of the Jewish and Immigrant Contribution to British Visual Art since 1900) and Dr Tom True (Director, Hay Castle Trust), and in consultation with Lyndy Cooke and Richie Turner.

"The exhibition is made possible by generous grants from The Colwinston Trust and Arts Council Wales.

"Hay Castle Trust is also grateful to Hay Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees, Iberian and Latin American Community Centre, Swansea, and African Community Centre, Swansea for their warm collaboration."