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Visual art – Blaenau Gwent REACH

Updated Wednesday, 7 July 2021

These paintings, drawings, collages and photographs are reflections on the history of Blaenau Gwent, stretching from the ancient Celts to deindustrialisation.

Several of them are accompanied by their creators’ own words about what they represent, and in one case by a poem to boot. They were created by participants in visual art workshops run by the BG REACH project at Aberbeeg Community Centre in spring 2020.

Blaenau Gwent REACH collage

A small preview of the ‘BG REACH collage’.

The individual tiles that make up this collage constitute an impressive outpouring of creative effort. There are 36 tiles in total, from 19 individual artists. The materials they use range from tissue paper, fabric, buttons and Scrabble letters, through photographs and clippings, to paint, pencil and charcoal.

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Modron, painting and poem

By Barbara Candlish

A small preview of the ‘Modron’ painting.

This stunning painting and stirring poem go hand in hand. Both are about Modron, a mother figure from medieval Welsh folklore. Modron’s depiction in the painting is truly striking, with her flowing hair and cloak, her warrior’s sword and shield. The poem, meanwhile, associates her with the Silures; a Celtic tribe occupying what we now call Blaenau Gwent when the Romans arrived two thousand years ago.

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The Guardian

By Mark Burns

A small preview of ‘The Guardian’ collage.

This is a collage of the Six Bells Guardian, a twenty-metre memorial to the forty-five men who died in the Six Bells Colliery disaster in 1960. The Guardian itself was unveiled by the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams on 28 June 2010, fifty years to the day since the explosion occurred.

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Save the Canyons

By Emily Clatworthy and Hazel Clatworthy

A small preview of the ‘Save the Canyons’ collage.

This striking collage is a visual chronicle of residents’ fight to prevent Tirpentwys Woods, near Pontypool, from being turned into a quarry. Known locally as ‘the Canyons’, the area was an opencast coal mine from the 1870s to the 1960s. For the last 50 years, however it has been reclaimed by nature and is now a wooded cut through uplands with a lake at the bottom.

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Escaping through art

By Raymond Mason

A small preview of one of Raymond Mason’s paintings depicting poppies.

Raymond Mason is an amateur artist living in Blackwood, between Ebbw Vale and Caerphilly. Although they may not appear so at first glance, the three pieces of artwork displayed here are reflections on both the Gwent Valleys and the wider world.

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Images of Blaenau Gwent

By Linda Stemp

A small preview of a photograph by Linda Stemp depicting Christ Church in Aberbeeg.

These pictures of historic buildings from around Blaenau Gwent were taken by Llanhilleth photographer Linda Stemp. They showcase aspects of the region’s heritage that are particularly important to her. These relate primarily to the area’s industrial history.

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Jim & Angharad, Six Bells

By Angharad Jones

A small preview of a watercolour painting by Angharad Jones.

This watercolour painting presents an evocative tableaux of a father and daughter gazing down on a mine. The girl’s pigtails emphasise her youth but her old-fashioned hat and coat suggest the age of the scene. Over the railings, the pithead with its winding wheel rears above the line of trees in the background. Yet the dominant colour choice of browns and greys make the mine seem part of the valley rather than an alien addition. 

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More art

A selection of other artwork from BG REACH participants.

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BG REACH exhibition logo / Logo arddangosfa BG REACH

This page is part of the Blaenau Gwent REACH online exhibition.

Film and audio | Creative writing | Visual art

Digital stories | The history of Blaenau Gwent | About this project


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