Gateway to Pontypool
Award-winning sculptor Robert Kennedy was commissioned to work with young people in Torfaen to create artworks for three roundabouts in Pontypool Town.
Robert worked with three hundred and sixty young people in Trevethin Comprehensive, Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw and St Albans Comprehensive School to create artworks that used Pontypool’s past, present and future as their focus.
Each of the roundabouts has a different theme prompted by the many thoughts of those who participated.
The Beacon sculpture is located at the second roundabout on the Pontypool bypass, at the end of Albion Road and adjacent to Clarence roundabout.
The Beacon is constructed from a steel frame covered in black & white granite. Capping the granite is red Wilderness stone topped by a hand-carved bowl.
This piece is a steel frame covered in black and white granite suggesting the shape of a Celtic cross and echoing traditional sculptures seen in villages and town all over Wales.
The panels of black and white echo the chevrons on the roundabout and the metal frame, in which the granite is set.
On top of the cross is a hand-carved bowl which has specific reference to the toil of the many people who shaped Pontypool. The artist has decorated the sides of the bowl with a textural design, blending place names to symbolise how separate locations combine together to build the character of the town.
The very top of the bowl and of the whole sculpture has carved stone ‘water’ cascading from it, paying tribute to the Afon Llwyd whose waters brought the very first settlers to this place.
The Beacon represents a diary of daily life intermingled with a celebration of the past. Where young peoples’ thoughts are about chatting with past relatives and about aspirations for the future.
The Dreamboat sculptures are located at the entry roundabout to Pontypool, situated on the main Crumlin road heading north-west.
The boat shapes were constructed from Stainless Steel at Panteg Steel Fabrications. They are individually mounted on stone footings for stability.
The five stainless steel boats, fabricated from the artist’s design by Panteg Fabrications, are intended to celebrate the steel industry and remind passing travellers of the importance of water transport to the area’s past employment here. They are shaped like paper boats reminiscent of childhood and leisure on the Afon Llwyd.
The patterned surface blasted onto the boats reflects light in different ways as motorist drive by. The pattern is reminiscent of the famous ‘Stormont’ design in the old tradition of Pontypool Japanware.
The Tower sculpture is located at the Pavilion roundabout at the northbound exit to Pontypool Town Centre.
The Tower is constructed in Welsh slate topped by a block of Portland stone and hand carved in a flame pattern.
Unlike the Beacon which has colour, the Tower is dark reminiscent of heavy industry in the valley. It is made in Welsh Slate with wording in white. It points the way to Blaenavon at the top of the valley.
The top of the tower is of Portland Stone, hand-carved with a flame pattern suggesting furnaces, presence, spirit and the flames of ideas. Street names are melted together to form a surface pattern on the top and on three sides.
Young people from Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw had a powerful influence on this piece. Before they made any mark or drawing they were encouraged to look at the history of the area, who people were and why they are here.
They explore many aspects related to change, cultural identity and links with the language. The white words on black slate remind us of school days.
The young people and the artist specifically looked at the industrialisation of the Pontypool which created the need for specialist workers, who were brought in from many different places, bringing other traditions and languages with them.
Last Modified: 05/12/2018
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