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Slate art comes home to Blaenau with towering sculpture
Drawing of the slate sculpture planned for Blaenau ffestiniog
The sculpture will be almost on the doorstep of the quarry

A sculpture made of 36,000 stacked local slates is being created as a gateway to Blaenau Ffestiniog's £4.5m town improvements.

And the artwork alone has already created two jobs.

Howard Bowcott from Penrhyndeudraeth, has been commissioned to do the work.

He said: "We wanted to create contemporary works of art, but also to reflect the heritage and the craftsmanship of the slate mining industry.

"We are celebrating the slate splitters that split those slates with such skill and so thinly."

BLAENAU FFESTINIOG PLANS

Major environmental improvements to encourage tourists into town centre
Funding to improve shop exteriors
Town gateway and other features by local artists
New signs and interpretation boards
Performance location to celebrate language, culture and heritage

Gwynedd Council, in partnership with local regeneration group Blaenau Ymlaen and the Welsh Assembly Government, have been developing the town improvement plans in consultation with the local community since 2009.

Richard Thomas of Blaenau Ymlaen, said: "It was clear from the consultation events held locally that people wanted the plans to be based on our history and culture."

Howard Bowcott has created public art all over the country, but is pleased to be working so close to home this time.

Describing his design, he said: "It's two columns of stacked slate 7.5m high, which is pretty big.

Slate sails by Howard Bowcott in Cardiff
Howard Bowcott has work in Cardiff, Tonypandy and many other towns

"It's the way I work a lot, which is using thin Ffestiniog slates glued together and then there's a concrete inner core to hold everything securely."

The slate will come from Greaves Welsh Slate at the Llechwedd mine on the outskirts of Blaenau Ffestiniog and the sculpture will be made in sections at Howard's workshop about 10 miles away.

The town regeneration will include artwork to make the town more attractive.

"It's about social and economic regeneration at the end of the day," he said.

"One of the really nice things is that because of the project I've taken on an assistant who is a local person.

"And, because I've got an order in for 160,000 of these slates, Llechwedd have taken on a young lad as an apprentice and are training him how to cut slate."

Capita Symonds has been appointed to project manage the town regeneration work, and the tendering process to appoint contractors will get underway in the spring, with work to start on the ground in the autumn.




SEE ALSO
Building sale after plans stall
02 Feb 11 |  North West Wales
4.5m regeneration is step closer
23 Feb 10 |  North west
Town's last petrol garage closes
25 May 10 |  North West Wales
Tourism centre bid to boost area
26 Jan 10 |  North west
Sculptures turn shoppers' heads
16 Jul 08 |  South east

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