'There's a Lot of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Europe at the Moment' FEATURE Forget the Numbers for a Minute, the European Union Is about More Than Just Jobs, Funding and Political Battles. Political Editor David Williamson Met a Polish Photographer Living in Wales for Whom the EU Is Part of Her Life Story

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), February 20, 2016 | Go to article overview

'There's a Lot of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Europe at the Moment' FEATURE Forget the Numbers for a Minute, the European Union Is about More Than Just Jobs, Funding and Political Battles. Political Editor David Williamson Met a Polish Photographer Living in Wales for Whom the EU Is Part of Her Life Story


N THE coming months we will be inundated with arguments about whether we would have more or less spare change in our pockets if we left the European Union.

IYes, the impact on jobs and the economy is of great importance, but the Europe debate is also about creativity, culture and even romance.

Zosia Krasnowolska, from Warsaw, met her boyfriend Dafydd Williams, from Abertillery, in Italy, where she was studying as part of the EU's Erasmus scheme.

They now live in his hometown and have organised a series of exciting photography projects that have brought the work of international artists to the Valleys and celebrated home-grown talent.

The pair have lived in Naples and Warsaw and she says she feels "like a European citizen".

Their "Kickplate" project started when they opened a pop-up gallery in a former barbershop in Abertillery and they have also organised exhibitions in Cardiff and Brynmawr.

Their latest venture is the Hanbury Road Gallery in Bargoed which will stage seven exhibitions over eight months.

Yet the prospect of an in-out referendum on EU membership looms on the horizon.

Zosia said: "I hope that the country will vote to stay in but to be honest you never know, considering the way right-wing tabloids use the European agenda for their own goals and try to stir up hatred towards immigrants and refugees.

"I like to be optimistic and I hope it does [remain] because Wales has always been a multicultural place.

"It's not like recent migration to the UK or Wales is something that never happened before.

"I mean, in every town you can see people from many different parts of the world so it would be completely unnatural to just close the borders.

"I think people could still come - it would just be much more difficult for them to do something creative or to start businesses, to do things that contribute to society."

It is three and a half years since she moved to Wales, and she now feels at home here and in Naples and Warsaw.

Dafydd's We are Ghosts exhibition, which is running at the Market Hall Cinema in Brynmawr, explores the architectural heritage of the Gwent Valleys.

It throws the spotlight on buildings designed with great aesthetic ambition which were influenced by works in Paris, London and Vienna.

Zosia had always wanted to visit Wales but she was taken aback by the negative attitudes she encountered against the Valleys.

She said: "I had this idea of beautiful landscapes. I didn't have negative stereotypes about Wales, for sure.

"I was really shocked when I moved here and discovered that there is so much prejudice, especially against people in the Valleys. It's got its problems and it can be very difficult but people here are lovely and very friendly and I really enjoy living here. I think the landscapes are so very beautiful.

"The only problem's the economic situation and all that entails. …

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'There's a Lot of Anti-Immigrant Sentiment in Europe at the Moment' FEATURE Forget the Numbers for a Minute, the European Union Is about More Than Just Jobs, Funding and Political Battles. Political Editor David Williamson Met a Polish Photographer Living in Wales for Whom the EU Is Part of Her Life Story
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