Swansea gallery displays hundreds of postcards mailed to them during pandemic

Hundreds of postcards sent in from around the globe are now the star attraction of the reopening exhibition at Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea. Last summer, the gallery invited the public to “get your creative caps on” and send them postcards that expressed what was important to them and their hopes for the future.

At the time of the request the UK was heading towards a second wave of coronavirus cases and the discovery of a vaccine seemed far away. During an interview in August 2020, Swansea’s investment and tourism cabinet member Robert Francis-Davies said “this [project] is a good way to stay creative and thoughtful through this challenging time.”

Soon the postcards came flooding in – a mix of ones people already had at home and self-made pieces of art. “They came from all over Wales and the UK, Europe and even China,” announced Francis-Davies. “The cards will be held in the gallery’s main collection as a reminder to future generations of these extraordinary times and how creativity and community play a vital part in our everyday lives.

Titled ‘Postcards to the Future’, the exhibition explores themes of climate change and the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the pandemic. Staff received hundreds of postcards in various mediums, such as drawings, paintings, photography, poetry and collage.

Participants range from young to old and included numerous local groups like the Wednesday Adult Workshop Group, which aims to improve older people’s access to the arts, and Young Art Force which is for anyone not in mainstream education. Despite not being able to meet in person during the pandemic, the groups joined together virtually to create postcards for the exhibition.

One exhibition participant, Swansea-based artist and researcher Barry Plummer, submitted a card emblazoned with the words: “We are going back to the stars.” Plummer’s postcard reflected his current artistic work which focuses on the wisdom of animals and nature. He explained “as the wording of the postcard implies, we are going back to the stars – we need to contemplate our origins to have a future.”

Like many other cultural institutions around the world, Glynn Vivian gallery has had to adapt to reopen. They have initiated social distancing protocols in the gallery spaces, made masks mandatory, and introduced an online pre-booking system. The ‘Postcards to the Future’ exhibition is open until 10 October 2021.

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