Today, Sunday 20th October a new series of murals was unveiled by dignitaries at London’s Indian YMCA. The 6 Atrium murals ‘Searching for Home’, celebrate the Anglo-Indian bond that has endured through tumultuous times such as world wars and political unrest. The artist, Dan Llywelyn Hall, was commissioned to make a series of murals that respond to the ethos of ‘Unity and Inclusion’ and celebrate the vital and unique role of the YMCA which remains an entirely self-sufficient charity.
The Indian YMCA has provided a gateway to London for young people from all over the world for generations. Now, more than ever does the role of this institution need to secure its place in the future where the dependency on the Commonwealth in an increasingly fractured world must be nurtured.
The current Indian YMCA building on Fitzroy Square was built after the original Shakespeare Hut was bombed in WW2. Since then, the building has had esteemed guests such as Gandhi, Nehru, the Royal family, Prime ministers and Indian High Commissioners through the century.
The six oil mural panels each measuring 4x3ft form a series called ‘Searching for Home’ were completed at the artist’s studio and will be installed a day before the official unveiling.
Dan Llywelyn Hall was born in Cardiff in 1980 and grew up in south Wales. He moved to London to study at the University of Westminster, graduating in 2003.
After studying he was awarded the Sunday Times/Singer Friedlander Young Artist of the Year for his painting ‘Ship Hotel and Splash’. A succession of group and solo exhibitions established Dan as a painter working directly from the landscape.
Increasingly, Dan became interested in portraiture and after a commission to paint the Victoria Cross recipient, Sir Tasker Watkins, he continued on the theme of veterans focusing on the last survivors of the first World War. In 2009 the then, last surviving veteran of the trenches, Harry Patch sat for his portrait, entitled ‘The Last Tommy’, which was selected for the BP Portrait Award and exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery where it was used as the face of the marketing campaign throughout London. Following this, Henry Allingham, then the world’s oldest man aged 113 sat for his portrait entitled ‘The Last Volunteer’. Recent portrait commissions include Her Majesty the Queen, in 2013, when Dan became the youngest artist to portray the monarch, shortly followed by The Duke of Cambridge.
Other notable portraits include Amy Winehouse. Dan’s work has been exhibited extensively throughout the UK in both solo and group exhibitions in venues such as the Saatchi Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of Wales, Windsor Castle, MoMA Wales and others.
In 2014, Dan curated ‘Deaths and Entrances’ exhibition in Bloomsbury, London, celebrating the 100th birthday of the poet Dylan Thomas. A series of paintings responding to Dylan’s short stories accompanied with a literary programme, became one of the highlights of the centenary year.
In 2015, Dan was appointed the first ever artist-in-residence for the 68th Cannes Film Festival, where actors sat for portraits and the sights and scenes of the area were depicted. This collection of work formed ‘Beyond the Red Carpet’ and exhibited in London.
In 2018 Dan worked on a portrait project Dambusters Reunited – inspired by the 133 men who participated in the Dams Raid of 1943 after having a sitting with the last British Dambuster, George ‘Johnny’ Johnson. The 133 portraits were unveiled by Dambusters’ family members from all over the world.
Dan is currently working with Amnesty International on an extensive portraiture project.
He lives and works between London and Wales.