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Welsh TV programme secures memorial plaque for Gwen John

06/08/2014

The life of celebrated Welsh artist, Gwen John, will be commemorated with a memorial plaque at her final resting place, found as a result of a documentary made for Welsh language broadcaster S4C earlier this year.

Since the documentary was made as part of the Mamwlad series, presented by Ffion Hague, the authorities in Dieppe, France have confirmed that a plaque will be placed in Gwen John’s memory at the Dieppe cemetery where she is buried.

Gwen John was sister to the artist Augustus John and the lover of sculptor Auguste Rodin. Although the life of the Tenby-born artist has been well documented, her death, and final resting place had remained a mystery until the S4C documentary was broadcast in February this year (http://www.s4c.co.uk/e_press_level2.shtml?id=886).

While researching for the S4C series Mamwlad (Mother Country) - which looks at the lives of influential Welsh women throughout history - production company Tinopolis, aided by Gwen John's great niece Sara John - located her grave in Dieppe’s Janval Cemetery in northern France.

Following the broadcast, production company Tinopolis entered into discussions with the local authorities in Dieppe and their application to place a commemorative plaque at the artist's final resting place has now been approved.

All parties involved are now looking to set a date to install the plaque which will commemorate the Welsh woman's important contribution to European art.

"We're incredibly glad to hear that a plaque will be placed in Dieppe in memory of Gwen John at her final resting place," said Dafydd Rhys, Director of Content at S4C. "As a Channel we commission productions we hope will entertain and educate, and it's fantastic to think that this important historical event has come about as a direct result of one of S4C's documentaries. It is a testament to all the hard work by the production team at Tinopolis. This lasting tribute to Gwen John is all down to their incredible research and dedication."

Ffion Hague, presenter of series Mamwlad on S4C, was also very pleased to hear the development in this amazing story.

“I’m very happy indeed that such an important Welsh woman will now be properly commemorated in the place where she was buried." Said Ffion Hague. "Gwen John was an inspiring and gifted individual who followed her own, unique course in life. Her story, and the story of finding the grave, illustrates perfectly how important it is for us to remember these ground-breaking figures and how easily even world-famous women like Gwen can be overlooked if we don’t treasure their stories.”

Series producer Catrin Evans added, "The series production team at Tinopolis did a lot of thorough research for the Mamwlad documentary on Gwen John and we are obviously delighted by this latest development. We couldn't have achieved this without the help of Sara John, the artists' great niece and the good will of the authorities in Dieppe. We look forward immensely to the installation of the memorial stone and we are very proud to have played a part in securing this legacy for such a distinguished Welsh artist."

S4C will be following the developments in Dieppe and a follow-up programme will be broadcast on the Channel in the future.

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