UWTSD students visit Ohio


Three students from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Swansea College of Art have travelled to Rio Grande University in Ohio to start working on a project that will celebrate the bi-centenary of the emigration of six families from Ceredigion to the American state.

Trip to Rio Grande University Ohio

Alongside lecturer and artist, Gwenllian Beynon, the students will work on a project that will respond creatively to the celebrations and to the significant migration from Wales to Ohio during the nineteenth century.

The families’ original intention in 1818 was to travel to Cincinatti but after the long and arduous journey, the families decided that they had already travelled far enough and settled in the town of Gallipolis, Ohio.

The community grew rapidly and from then on, more than 3,000 Welsh people moved to the state.

Ohio is now one of the largest Welsh states in the United States and is home to the Madog Welsh Centre based on the campus of the University of Rio Grande.

"The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) has a very close partnership with Rio Grande University and we're so proud to be here," says Gwenllian. "The people are fantastic - everyone is very welcoming and our students are having a great time.

"The lecturers from the University of Rio Grande’s Art department have been extremely supportive and have allowed us to use their studio space for the duration of our stay. Jeanne Jones Jindra, Director of the Madog Center, has of course also been great. She has organised trips around the area; arranged for us to meet some of the many Welsh people in the area and has arranged for us to attend Gymanfa Ganu at the Welsh Museum in Oak Hill this Sunday – an experience we are all very much looking forward to."

Trip to Rio Grande University Ohio

The three students on the trip are all Welsh speakers and follow elements of their University course through the medium of Welsh.

Gwaredd Jones from Llanarthne is a student who is about to start his third year studying Graphic Design. He’s delighted to have the opportunity to visit Ohio and he is thrilled to have had the opportunity to experience a different culture and learning experience.

"It has been an incredible experience to immerse ourselves in another culture. Experiencing university in America and working alongside brilliant American creatives have really stood out for me as excellent learning experiences."

Tomos Sparnon from Swansea is also about to start his final year at the University’s Swansea College of Art where he’s studying Fine Art. Tomos - who has already experienced a great success this year by winning the main Urdd National Eisteddfod Art scholarship – is really enjoying the experience of researching the history of the Welsh in Ohio and has been really surprised to find out about the close relationship between the state and Wales.

Tomos says: "I’m currently at the University of Rio Grande, Ohio as an artist in residence and I’m having an incredible and memorable time here.

"I've been amazed at the connection and the strong history that exists between Wales and Ohio and can’t believe that I was not aware of it before now!  I’ve seen hundreds of gravestones with the surnames Jones, Jenkins, Evans, Griffiths and Parry - it's like walking around a Welsh cemetery!

"I'm really looking forward to the Gymanfa Ganu on Sunday night - taking part in a tradition that has lasted well over a century will be a great experience.

"I’m then look forward to taking the experience and inspiration back to Wales and using elements of our trip and findings in my third year at the University.

Having the opportunity to see different landscapes has been the highlight for Caitlin Littlejohn who graduated from the Fine Art course in Swansea this year.

"It's been so great to experience university life within a whole new setting. Having the freedom to explore the incredible landscapes and the surroundings here has given me so much inspiration within my practice. Staff and students have been very friendly and welcoming, they have certainly made me feel at home here. Possibly one of the most interesting aspects of the residency so far alongside the beautiful landscapes is the extraordinary amount of Welsh history that we have been able to research. It is simply fascinating. I'm thoroughly enjoying my time here."

One of Canolfan Madog's main aims is to widen the understanding of Welsh heritage and to stimulate and sustain interest in the rich history and strong relationship between Ohio and Wales. The students have certainly enjoyed learning more about the links and are looking forward to continuing to respond to their experiences in their artwork after they return.

Further Information


For further information, please contact Sian-Elin Davies by emailing sian-elin.davies@uwtsd.ac.uk / 01267 676908 / 07449 998476