About this work
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. The monument itself is hollow and latticed, made from thousands of thin rusted strips of iron which give it an ethereal quality from some angles. It stands in landscaped parkland on the site of the old colliery, surrounded by the natural greenery that has returned to the area since the pit closed in 1988.
Mark’s collage, however, has a far less serene feel to it. This depiction of the Guardian is solid and black, dominating the centre of the picture with its presence and power. Behind it there are no parkland greens or the blue of an unpolluted sky. Instead we see fiery reds and yellows that call to mind the tragic explosion that the statue commemorates. The collage takes the Guardian’s name literally and expresses that figuratively by bridging the fifty years between disaster and memorial in a single image. This Guardian stands between the fire and the viewer, offering protection that the men who died in the disaster did not have. You can see a photograph of the Six Bells Guardian by local photographer Linda Stemp below.
This page is part of the Blaenau Gwent REACH online exhibition.