Thursday, 4 December 2014

The stunning Guildhall, Swansea

WPW047086:Aerofilms photograph of the complex, 1935: Crown Copyright RCAHMW

The home of Digital Past 2015 will be the Swansea Guildhall complex, designed by the renowned architect Percy Thomas and built between 1930-1934. On completion it was a building that caused considerable controversy, with its ‘stripped Classical’ exterior of Portland stone considered too modernist by many, but with its elegant clock tower and sumptuous Art Deco interiors it is now internationally recognised as an exemplar of its type.

In addition to the Art Deco features so fashionable at the time, there are many references to Swansea’s Viking origins (the name Swansea coming from ‘Sweyn’s Island’), including the prow of a Viking long ship on the clock tower, bronze long ships on the handrails and carved images of Sweyn Forkbeard himself!

As the main hall of the complex, the Brangwyn Hall has its walls decorated with 16 panels by Sir Frank Brangwyn, one of Britain’s most prolific and versatile artists. The panels had initially been commissioned for the House of Lords, but were rejected as inappropriate in their depiction of native girls. After being exhibited at Olympia, Swansea Council were lucky enough to give a home to the panels.

The Guildhall and Brangwyn Hall, still in the ownership of Swansea City Council, have recently undergone an enormous, year-long, programme of careful restoration and conservation and the Royal Commission is very pleased to be able to bring the Digital Past conference to such a architecturally and historically important building. For more about the history of the building see here. We hope that you can join us at this magnificent venue in February!

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