Wrexham’s quilt-making tradition and a love of heritage have provided the inspiration for the latest display at Wrexham Museum.
Bom Dia Cymru, a group of Portuguese-speaking local residents and their friends, worked together with creative practitioner, Sophia Leadill, to produce a multi-coloured, multi-cultural, multi-period quilt that celebrates the heritage of the Portuguese-speaking world, Wrexham and Wales.
The Bom Dia quilt is going on display in the main gallery at Wrexham Museum on June 10th to mark Portugal Day. (Officially known in Portugal as Dia de Portugal, de Camões e das Comunidades Portuguesas, which roughly translates to the national day of Portugal and the Portuguese speaking community.)
The quilt celebrates the heritage that interests and is important to the group from the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the beautiful printed fabrics of Angola, and the Cockerel of Barcelos (the national symbol of Portugal) via Welsh phrases and Portuguese proverbs to the Welsh dragon and local landmarks. The production of the quilt was part of a Wales wide project called Our Museum Our Voices.
Iolanda Banu, the founder and organizer, said “It has been a pleasure to work with the Bom Dia Cymru group on this project. Many never have been to the Museum before due to the language barriers, this helped us to find out more about Wrexham and inspired us so much! We look forward to seeing the first Portuguese exhibition at the Museum and being part of the history of our lovely city!”
Cllr Roberts, Lead Member for Community Safety and Partnerships, added “The Bom Dia quilt is a colourful and unique representation of the heritage of Wrexham, Wales and our Portuguese speaking communities. I would like to thank Iolanda and the other members of the Bom Dia group for donating the quilt to Wrexham Museum where it will join other collections such as the Penley Hospital Chapel triptych in representing our county’s multi-national heritage.”
Dr Marian Gwyn, Our Museums Our Voices project manager, said “The project has exceeded all expectations, and it illustrates the value of museums reaching out to communities to share their stories through the creative arts.”
Our Museum Our Voices was funded by the Art Fund, Museum Development UK, and the Welsh Government. The production of the quilt was supported by CLPW (Comunidade de Lingua Portuguesa Wrexham), and Tŷ Pawb (WCBC), and through visits to Wrexham Museum to learn more about the city’s heritage.
The quilt will be on display in the museum’s main gallery from June 10th and admission is free.
Members of the Bom Dia group come from Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, Brazil, Sao Tome and Principe, and Cape Verde and now live in Wrexham. The group also includes some special guest members from Wales.
The group founder and organizer is Iolanda Banu, who is a Portuguese Mozambican, who has been living and working in Wrexham for many years. Iolanda is very active in Wrexham organizing community activities on behalf of the North Wales Multicultural Hub, the local Portuguese speaking community and many others.
The project was funded by the Art Fund, Museum Development UK, and the Welsh Government, and its aim was to bring together ethnic minority communities and museums through the arts. Wrexham was one of only four places across Wales to be invited to participate in this innovative scheme. Each group was given a special behind-the-scenes tour of their local museum, providing an opportunity for staff and community to get to know each other. Inspired by a creative lead, each group then chose something from the museum around which they could create an artistic response. The Bom Dia Quilt was inspired by Wrexham’s 100-year-old Tailor’s Quilt.
CLPW (Comunidade de Lingua Portuguesa Wrexham) was formed in 2013 as a community group and in 2016 as Community Interest Company. They initially met at Saith Seren on the corner of Lambpit Street and Chester Street. There are believed to be around 2,000 Portuguese speakers in the Wrexham area.
Sophia Leadill, a community artist and creative facilitator from Wrexham supported the group and aided them in realizing their ideas for the quilt.
Luis Vaz de Camões is seen as one of Portugal’s greatest poets and he has been compared to William Shakespeare and Dafydd ap Gwilym in terms of his importance to the language. He died on 10th June 1580.
16th June 2023 marks the 650th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of “perpetual friendship, unions and alliances” between King Edward III of England and King Ferdinand I of Portugal. It is the oldest treaty that is still in force in the world. The local regiment, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, helped the Portuguese expel the occupying French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte during the Peninsular War in the early 19th century.