Visible Start Graduate

MARY GWEN

Mary’s films — and their narratives — made waves. They spoke of action, justice and change, key tenets that Mary stood for.

Mary Gwen

When all her friends were busy buying houses and having babies, Mary Gwen was making other plans. Having built a successful career as a Project Manager, she was ready to start again. Compiling a portfolio at her kitchen table, she was preparing to pitch her creative dreams. And after being accepted into St Martin’s College, those dreams became a reality.

She sold work to Tracey Emin. Studied Directing Documentary at the National Film and Television School. She even created short films screened at the Ritzy in Brixton, orchestrating a flash mob that gained so much traction it saw hundreds of supporters fill the square. It was later re-screened, and demand had been so popular it led to her being asked to participate in community workshops around combating violence against women and girls. She was invited to join the board of Lambeth Law Centre.

Mary’s films — and their narratives — made waves. They spoke of action, justice and change. They were the first to be live-streamed in public – screened alongside The People’s Parliament debates.

Her love of nature and deep respect for the environment coupled with her dismay over the lack of investment in rural communities and growing inequality led her to become a parliamentary candidate, winning an open selection in Snowdonia, her childhood constituency.

When others were looking in, Mary was zooming out. Seeing the bigger picture. Speaking to advertising agencies. Reaching out to journalists. Seeking advice from outside of the political bubble – taking a modern, strategic approach.

And for a candidate with no money, no staff, no party headquarter support, Mary did better than anyone expected: the narrowest margin in Wales, the best constituency result since 1974, all because she did things differently. Writing for local and national newspapers, building up a volunteer base, organising someone from the Bernie Sanders’ campaign to deliver grass roots training, organising stand-up comedy, selling slogan T-shirts, holding free film screenings with the support of Ken Loach, a lot of social media and art-bombing a rave.

With no media training and very little notice, Mary stood in for a Shadow Minister on BBC2, taking open questions from the public, Baroness Brinton and Penny Mordaunt. She digested hundreds of pages of policy papers, strategically analysing information. All whilst en-route to the studios. “Similar to cramming for [your] A Levels, but [with your] responses broadcast on national TV”. It wasn’t just Mary’s films making waves.

Her determination, good nature, humour and big-picture perspective carried her through the most challenging of circumstances, but the door is now firmly closed on her political adventure.

Mary’s superpower is that she is both creative and analytical. Clear about her values. Sure of her passions, and sure of her role in society: an innovative agent of change, making a difference through campaigns that evoke empathy and drive meaningful engagement. She’s a member of the Bar Standards Board Equalities taskforce. As dyslexic, Mary values the social model of disability: viewed it as a difference, not a weakness. Maybe the difference is her other superpower.

Her most recent creative work — ‘Keep it Under Your Hat’, an art installation exploring themes of cultural secrets and identity — won the Visual Arts prize at the 2021 Buxton Fringe festival, seeing her invited to exhibit alongside Jimmy Cauty at The New Mills Festival in September of this year.

Now, after Visible Start, Mary is pitching again. Running a fledgling design studio has been interesting, but she’s yearning for a larger team. It’s time to explore how her transferable skills can be of value. Watch out for the waves, because Mary is coming.