Monday, 30 July 2012
The Dillwyn Day: Science, Culture, Society
The Dillwyn Day, held at the National Waterfront Museum on Friday 22 June, was opened by Edwina Hart, Assembly Member and Minister for Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science
A talk on the Dillwyn Dynasty as a whole was given by Dr David Painting (in competition with some vociferous schoolchildren who chose that morning to visit the National Waterfront Museum!).
digitized by the National Library of Wales. His first son, John Dillwyn Llewelyn, became known for his pioneering photographic practices, his gardens at Penllergare and his observatory. Amongst his children was Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn, who married the naturalist Nevil Story Maskelyne, and whose interest in science and photography led her to correspond (via her husband) with Darwin. It is her photograph which is on the flier.
Sadly, the Dillwyn name did not survive. Although Amy Dillwyn bequeathed her estate to her nephew, Rice, who changed his name to Dillwyn, his son Colin was killed in the Second World War. The war came before he had a chance to pursue a thesis at Oxford University on American Anti-Slavery campaigners. Had he been spared to complete that project, as David Painting remarked, perhaps William Dillwyn’s legacy would not be so comparatively neglected today.
Other talks highlighted the scientific, literary and political contributions of the Dillwyns. Richard Morris gave a talk on pioneering photographic techniques illustrated by an array of amazing images, including a wonderful example of a Victorian collage.
Professor Iwan Morus(Aberyswyth University)explained why the British Association for the Advancement of Science held their meeting in an otherwise remote corner of Wales in 1848. But even before the railways arrived at Swansea in the 1850s, this was an ‘intelligent town’ with science and culture at its heart. Dr Kirsti Bohata (Swansea University) spoke about Amy Dillwyn’s attempts to represen this industrial world in her fiction of the 1880s, which is unusual in its inclusion of images of heavy industry, particularly metal working (in which her family and Swansea as a whole was deeply involved). And Professor Prys Morgan (Swansea University) delivered a typically spellbinding talk on how Lewis Llewelyn Dillwyn contributed not only to the Liberal party, but put down Welsh roots in his cultural and political activities.
Swansea Museum provided a digital exhibition of early photographs and, to the delight of those who still value the tangible, brought in reproductions of the original photograph albums for people to handle and inspect.
The event was organized by the Dillwyn Working Group and CREW at Swansea University and the Learned Society of Wales, with financial support from the AHRC, CREW and LSW. Sincere thanks to Dr Sarah Morse, Executive Officer for the Learned Society and formerly a doctoral student at CREW, for co-organising the day.
For more information on the Dillwyns and the Dillwyn Project at Swansea University please visit the CREW website: www.swan.ac.uk/crew/researchprojects/dillwyn/
More pictures of the day can be found at the Learned Society of Wales website.