Exhibition looks at how Wales' influence helped to shape Ukraine.
A NEW exhibition about Welsh immigrants who helped to build Ukraine's coal and steel capital will open next month.
The show, called Enthusiasm, is being held at Merthyr Tydfil's Redhouse, and tells the story of Welsh ingenuity in helping to build the industrial capital of the country, then known as Hughesovka, which is now war-ravaged Donestsk.
The city was founded by a Welsh industrialist called John Hughes from Merthyr Tydfil in 1869 who brought steelworks, coal mining and hundreds of hardworking Welsh families to the heart of the Russian Empire.
Named after him, the city of Hugheskova rapidly expanded from village to city in the glow of the stateof-the-art factories founded on technology made in Wales.
Mr Hughes went on to found the New Russia Company under a contract from Emperor Alexander II to make armour plating. But during the Russian revolution, the Hughes family, as well as the majority of immigrant families, were forced to flee the Bolsheviks in 1917, returning to the UK. To mark a century since the Russian Revolution, the exhibition will include 19th century photography and striking images of the modern day city by photographer Alexander Chekmenev, as well as contributions from migrants now living and working in Wales.
Through film, photography, food and discussion, the show will explore historic and current migration by looking at the Welsh influence in Ukraine. And the exhibit will also include letters from 19th century Welsh families living in Ukraine, read by migrants living here now, as well as rare photographs from the Glamorgan Archives. Victoria Donovan, lecturer in Russian at The University of St Andrews and Enthusiasm co-founder, said: "Knowledge of this period in Ukraine and Wales remains very limited, despite its significance to both countries and to our collective understanding of migration and national identity, especially pertinent issues in modern times. Welsh entrepreneurship contributed to building Donetsk, but it was also Welsh exploitation of a local workforce that gave rise to popular resentment and political radicalism that fed into the Russian Revolution of 1917, so it's a complex story which challenges our perceptions of Wales and its industrial history today.
"Reading archival letters from Welsh migrants, hearing from migrants in modern Wales, and contemplating photos of Hughesovka's residents in the 19th century, as well as more modern images of Eastern Ukraine, can help us understand the transnational links between the two regions and the way these links continue to resonate in our social, cultural and political landscapes today."
Stefhan Caddick, artist and cofounder of Enthusiasm, says: "The really engaging thing about this project is how much nuance and shades of grey exist in these issues of culture, migration and history, which all of us are currently grappling with.
"The name of the project - Enthusiasm - comes from Vertov's title for his Donbass Symphony and reflected his and his fellow Bolshevik's enthusiasm for the revolution.
"That his fervour might not have been shared with all of his fellow Ukrainians and certainly wasn't shared with the Welsh migrants fleeing the revolution, I think makes us consider the human stories bound up in these global events."
| The exhibition will take place on Saturday, July 1, at Redhouse.
Faces from Hughesovka, which was founded by Welsh industrialist GLAMORGAN ARCHIVES
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|Publication:||South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)|
|Date:||Jun 15, 2017|
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