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Beatles art icon Sir Peter Blake to champion Swansea 2021 City of Culture bid

ONE of the UK's most respected artists plans to back Swansea's City of Culture bid at a House of Commons event next week.

Sir Peter Blake

Sir Peter Blake, best known for co-creating the world-famous sleeve design for the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, is due to attend Monday's Westminster reception being held for the Swansea 2021 campaign.
 
He said: "With my great love of Dylan Thomas and Wales, I am delighted to be involved with the bid for City of Culture."
 
Swansea 2021 logoMonday's event will see the lifelong Dylan fan rub shoulders with dozens of other influential figures from the worlds of culture and politics as they all gather to show their support for Swansea 2021.
 
Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, who will attend the event, said: "It will be a great honour for us to have Sir Peter supporting our bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 - he is an icon of British art and his work reaches such a wide ranging audience
 
"If we are successful with our bid, City of Culture 2021 would culminate in a year-long programme of events, with Swansea playing host to a showcase of the best of UK talent to a local, national and international audience. 
 
"However, it's not just about one year. If successful, we would take over the mantle from Hull at the start of 2018 with a three-year build-up to the final year of 2021 and then a solid legacy programme following this.  
 
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Major Projects, who will also attend the Westminster reception, said: "This title would bring communities together to celebrate their heritage and diversity and would lead to many millions of pounds being spent in local businesses through significantly increased visitor numbers.
 
"The status also attracts new investment to the successful cities. You only have to look to both Derry and Hull to see the positive results that being UK City of Culture status has generated for them. 
 
"Monday's event is all about continuing to share Team Swansea's vision and demonstrating just how much we want it, we need it, we believe it and that we can deliver it."
 
Sir Peter's best-known works include the cover of Band Aid single Do They Know It's Christmas?, the Live Aid concert poster and the 2012 Brit Award statuette. 
 
Other well-known works include his 1961 Self-Portrait with Badges, his 2001 portrait of rock star Ian Dury and He Meets the Spice Girls and Elvis, 2000-05. Now aged 85, he was knighted in 2002.
 
In October 2014 he opened Galerie Simpson in High Street, Swansea, and went on to meet a number of local artists including Jonathan Powell and fellow Elysium Gallery artists based in High Street.
 
Three years ago, as part of the Dylan Thomas centenary, he exhibited his illustrations inspired by Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood in Cardiff and St Davids.
 
Ify IwobiMonday afternoon's House of Commons event will feature 23-year-old Swansea-born pianist and composer Ify Iwobi, a 2016 young Welsh musician of the year. She will perform on keyboard for the gathering.
 
Ify, who won the 2017 Swansea Bay Young Achievers Award for Performing Arts, said: "Swansea is a city of culture that embraces people from a diverse heritage and background. Winning the bid would provide a platform for young people to showcase their talent on a UK-wide platform."
 
The Westminster reception is being hosted by Swansea West MP Geraint Davies and organised by staff at Swansea Council.
 
Attendees are due to include Plus Tate national programmes manager Helen Cooper, peers and MPs with Swansea 2021 team members including Swansea Council chief executive Phil Roberts, city arts figures such as Mal Pope and Galerie Simpson's Jane Simpson, the University of Wales Trinity St David, the Welsh Government and Coastal Housing.
 
Swansea was successful in making the shortlist and is now bidding in this final round to be UK City of Culture 2021 against Coventry, Sunderland, Stoke and Paisley. A result is due from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport next month.
 
MP Geraint Davies said: "Swansea Bay is a global brand thanks to both our football success and as the birthplace of Wales' most famous poet, Dylan Thomas. We boast a world class coastline, two universities and a hall of fame, from Anthony Hopkins to Michael Sheen, and Catherine Zeta-Jones to Katherine Jenkins. 
 
"Swansea and South West Wales is one of the poorest regions in Europe, and would be given a rocket boost to further cultural success from being crowned UK City of Culture 2021."

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