Introducing Graham Dolphin

Who are you?
Graham Dolphin, I live 12 miles outside of Newcastle upon Tyne in the north east of England

Hello, how are you?
Very well, thank you for asking.

What do you do?
I make art in various ways, using various forms, I teach wherever I’m invited too and look after my two children, Ella and Charlie, with my partner Sara. 

What have you been doing recently?
Apart from this commission I have been making large drawings and a sound work for a group exhibition for NEST in Holland, co-curating an exhibition for BALTIC in Newcastle upon Tyne, making new work for a solo exhibition next year at the Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art in Sunderland. Reading Karl Ove Knausgård’s My Struggle biographies, researching the work of Sun RaJandekHarry Partch and Bruce Haack and watching Breaking Bad to see what all the fuss is about.

What are you doing for Art Across the City in Swansea?
I am recreating a monument in the silver mining ghost town of Swansea in California to be sited in the city centre and getting local school children to make road signs for all the different Swanseas’ in the world to be positioned around the city.

What are your ideas behind the work?
During my research and visit to Swansea I was taken with the important international role the city played mining and copper. How the knowledge gained in developing new techniques by miners was exported to every corner of the world resulting in miners emigrating long distances taking a part of South Wales in America, Cuba and Australia. The legacy living on in the naming of towns and villages after their home town, Swansea. I was lead to this story by a song called Swansea by the American musician Joanna Newsom who describes a ghost town in Death Valley, California. The now deserted and very remote silver mine is memorialised by a stone monument erected on the site, it is this monument I have recreated and brought back to the original Swansea as remembrance of the towns past.

Along with the silver mine in California I found another 80 towns, villages, mountains, buildings and lakes named after Swansea from Canada, Australia, America, Jamaica, and Cuba, all with connections to the emigration of miners. Through workshops with local schools and organisations participants have been asked to design signs for the other Swanseas throughout the world. These will be hung around the town.

What do you think the public will make of it?
No idea. I hope the objects work as vessels for the ideas of recreation, memorials and the echoes of the past but the excitement and pleasure in making things is how they are then seen by others.