INFLUENCE & INSPIRATION

INFLUENCE & INSPIRATION

The hills that shape the valleys of South Wales were once the home of a Bronze Age people who having mastered the art of fire, used it to mould their metal work into ornate jewellery and striking artefacts, creating objects that reflected a beauty and a love of the natural world they lived in and that preserved their story for future generations. A Bronze Age dagger of such provenance is one of the ancient artefacts discovered in a primeval site at Cilsanws, Merthyr Tydfil.

These valleys have at their roots a Celtic people who stood against the Romans and later the Normans defending their proud and noble traditions that are locked into the magic of fire displayed in their sculpture, their gold and their silver.

Cyfarthfa Iron Works at Dusk by Thomas Prytherch By permission Merthyr Tydfil Museum Service

Cyfarthfa Iron Works at Dusk by Thomas Prytherch
By permission Merthyr Tydfil Museum Service

Merthyr Tydfil was the crucible of the world from the mid-1800s to the turn of the Twentieth Century, being the world centre for iron and steel production; having at its height three hundred foundries burning so bright it was said “In Merthyr you can read a newspaper at midnight such is the brightness of the furnaces”.

Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil, ancestral home of the Crawshays (Iron Masters during the Industrial Revolution)

Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil, ancestral home of the Crawshays (Iron Masters during the Industrial Revolution)

The success of Merthyr Tydfil attracted an influx of workers like a gold rush: Spanish, Italian,Chinese, Irish, Scots and English flocked the streets, their cultures enshrined in the names of its streets, the pubs, the clubs and churches to give the history of Merthyr Tydfil and its life today a truly cosmopolitan flavour.

The river Taf flowing through Merthyr Tydfil; photographed from the world's oldest surviving cast-iron railway bridge and aqueduct.

The river Taf flowing through Merthyr Tydfil; photographed from the world’s oldest surviving cast-iron railway bridge and aqueduct.

Now the industry has faded and nature has reclaimed its disused estate. Salmon and otters now swim once more in the river Taff,
the hills are green with enchanting trails and paths that allow the spectator to glimpse flashes of historic artefacts juxtaposed as a foil against the glorious landscape that is the joy of this place.

The open sheep-grazed heathland, set against the rugged limestone and old red sandstone lies above the manicured modern forest with a patchwork of older deciduous woodland and enchanted shaded walks. The rivers that change from ranging torrents to the placid flow of a Gainsborough idyll, the water cut gorges with rugged waterfalls that flash in the winter light with encrusted icicles, give way to rippled pools where the kingfisher and heron feast. Where raptors fly, the buzzard, red kite, kestrel, sparrow hawk, hobby, peregrine and goshawk are the masters of their sky and of the noble rugged mountains where the Brecon Beacons silhouette the sky.

Brecon Beacons over Pontsticill Reservoir

Brecon Beacons over Pontsticill Reservoir

Against this background through the shroud of Celtic mist rise two artists who reflect the rich heritage within the nature of the place. Their work is wrought from the earth itself; using ceramic, glass, metal and wood they create objects that interweave the stories, the mystery and the wonder of the places that surround them, to tell stories, convey emotions and to share joy in the wonders of form and aspect, light and shadow. The objects are intertwined with words and hidden messages carrying with them the echoes of the Celtic bards but telling stories relevant to a world today.

As the history of the place was forged in fire, so too are the elements of their work, ceramics glass and metal; being the essence of the earth transformed by fire, whilst wood was the mother of the first flame.

Their work is a contemporary materialisation of elements that have fascinated mankind for millennia: the creation of objects which tell a story, hold a meaning, have a presence in a place that enhances the space and draws the attention of the visitor, inviting them to share in their essence and to etch a memory onto their minds.

This is the nature of  ARRT {Alison Richards & Rob Taylor} creating a contemporary view on the world that is accessible to the viewer and that enriches their consciousness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *