Since becoming Councillor, Ffion Meleri Gwyn has provided inspired leadership to a range of creative and innovative projects, contributing massively to the well-being of the Criccieth community during a very testing time. As an artist and a teacher herself, Cllr Gwyn spearheaded a creative strategy for Criccieth that realised significant participatory creative projects for the community. The Ty’n Rhos Rainbow Bridge, for example, is a colourful installation inspired by an 8-year old boy, designed by Cllr Gwyn, supported by local businesses and contributed by dozens of local volunteers. Ty’n Rhos is a housing estate on the outskirts of Criccieth, which has a younger demographic than the rest of the town and most of the pupils in the local school come from the estate. The area was perceived by some in the community to be marginalised socially as well as geographically. The collaboration of residents on the Rainbow Bridge has shifted this perception by emphatically re-instating Ty’n Rhos as a valued part of the community. The Bridge now serves as a colourful and dramatic entrance not only to Ty’n Rhos but to the whole town and has become a symbol of renewed hope in the community.
Cllr Gwyn also introduced Friendship Benches to the town to encourage inter-generational contact and combat loneliness via the colourful artwork of the benches themselves. The friendship benches were part of a project spearheaded by Cllr Gwyn called Songs, Places, Legends which involved partners such as Age Cymru as well as the local primary school, local historians, poets and singer-songwriters who worked creatively on the history and legends of the local area to enhance a connection between the older and younger generations in the community, Working with the local Community Allotments and Buttefly Garden, alongside partners such as Friends of Nature Garden and Gwynedd Council’s Biodiversity Unit, Cllr Gwyn used creative activity and information boards to encourage wellbeing and an awareness of biodiversity. Within the creative projects, Cllr Gwyn works scrupulously in her commitment to the two languages spoken in the Criccieth Community – the allotment information boards, as well as a creative town map, are thoroughly bi-lingual and inclusive.
In the time of Covid, Cllr Gwyn has made the case for creativity in partnership by setting an example of how, despite all the necessary restrictions, it was and remains possible and beneficial to innovate, create and make art a community adventure.
Cllr Gwyn is an artist who has taken the plunge into politics and the results are clear to see - she leads by example and is not afraid to bring her artistry to the fore which is inspiring to see! She understands how arts and creativity connect people. I particularly love the way she infuses nature into her delivery. She understands that tackling isolation, especially during the pandemic, is vital."
There is a real connection here to the local area and its specific character and needs. The response to Ty’n Rhos, as a housing estate that is geographically and socially isolated from the rest of the community, by bringing local residents together to make the ‘rainbow bridge’ a place of art and connection, is an inspiration. The emphasis on nature and bio-diversity in local art projects, the focus on intergenerational projects and cultural activities rooted in the history of the area, and the alliances forged with local artists is impressive."
Cllr Gwyn is clearly someone for whom her community matters greatly and is committed to making hers the best it can be. She understands that seemingly simple actions are actually hugely significant: the friendship benches, for example: and the bringing together of people in a community who so often have felt isolated."
Cllr Gwyn is evidently a force of nature! It’s moving to read about how she always leads by example and uses her own artistic talent to transform the town, whether through painting information boards or creating cultural maps. I found it particularly poignant reading about her work to combat loneliness and isolation through friendship benches, and I think creating a rainbow bridge to give the people of Ty’n Rhos a real sense of belonging was inspired. Reading this nomination, it seems that people of all ages have been inspired by the example that Cllr Gwyn has set."
Cllr Gwyn is clearly passionate and committed and a much-loved member of the community and for good reason. She has used her own passion and talent for the benefit of her community, and you get a real sense of her direct involvement of all the projects highlighted."
Cllr Gwyn is clearly someone who makes everything beautiful. I love the sense of transforming through art, and clearly Cllr Gwyn has transformed everything through Rainbow Bridge and made impact in numerous other places besides."
At a time of real anxiety, when separation added to people's loneliness and alienation, Cllr Gwyn rolled up her sleeves and made art that brought people together and made them proud of their community. She's made a difference. Her ideas are simple, affordable and practical; exactly what's needed when there isn't a lot of money or confidence about. Her nomination shows us that the greatest artistic joy often comes from doing and making things ourselves. More councillors should be like this!"
Councillor Ffion Meleri Gwyn’s passion for arts and culture shines through. She clearly devotes time and energy to arts and culture, demonstrating leadership and an understanding of the power and impact of arts and culture for communities"
Councillor Ffion Meleri Gwyn embodies the strong community spirit which clearly exists in the Cyngor Tref Criccieth council area. It is very easy for elected representatives to make speeches and lofty commitments to improving an area; it is much more difficult for them to actually make a difference, and be involved with it personally as Cllr Gwyn has. It is clear from her nominations that she has been extremely active in supporting the area and her constituents to use culture and the arts to bring people together."