Senghenydd mining memorial project – The Universal pit disasters of 1901 and 1913.

I was asked to do some more work in Senghenydd this year following the success of a similar project undertaken in Abertridwr last year. The project brief was to work with the local primary school to come up with ideas for an old railway bridge that used to span the tracks of the old line that used to carry coal from the Universal pit.

The young people wanted to create a memorial piece about the tragic mining disasters of 1901 and 1913 in Senghenydd, both events that still affect the community as a whole to this day.

Senghenydd’s Universal Pit was by far the most significant employer in the area. In 1901 a huge explosion in the pit killed 81 miners, with one survivor being pulled from the mine shaft. This was bad enough for the community, however worse was still to come. In 1913 an explosion ripped through the underground mines, and of 950 men working that day, 439 miners and one rescuer lost their lives. Despite many roof falls and raging fires, many men and boys were rescued from the rubble, but the conditions were tough, and the rescue attempts lasted for 3 weeks even though all hope of finding survivors had long passed.

It was estimated that over 1,000 people in the area were bereaved by the Senghenydd disaster. Nearly all of the families in the town were affected, in one way or another. It was said that there was a victim in every household. Enquiries found that numerous faults could be laid at the door of the owners and managers, yet, despite this, the grand total of fines and compensation came only £24. One Newspaper was quoted to tally the cost of each miners life as ‘£0 1s 1 1/4d’. In other words, by today’s rates, only 6 pence. The Senghenydd pit disaster is remembered as the most lethal and tragic mining disaster in British history.

Having worked in the area a number of times over the years, (and created a number of murals on the subject), I am well schooled on the subject, so we set about making pans for the mural. We decided to tie in the bridge by using a concept similar to a project we did last year in the next town by creating a historical piece in black and white on one side, and a colour version on the opposite side representing the beauty of the area. We used old photos from the day of the 1913 disaster as reference, strong images that still reflect the community’s feeling of loss today. Whilst I was painting, people told me stories about their grandfathers or relatives who either died in the accidents or had lucky escapes due to being “on afternoons” that day.

I love this about my job. I often seem to act as a direct link between peoples memories, history, and the preservation of both. I feel honoured to be able to help communities create lasting visual pieces that celebrate or reflect on their own particular culture and history. In this case, Its a privilege to help create such a dedication to the memories of those who lost their lives.

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Old Ely Subway – Pont Y Werin

I was approached by The Harbour Authority to work on a very cool new project, creating a mural to pay homage to the old historical Ely Subway. This was a pedestrian tunnel that ran from what is now Plas Pamir, beneath the River Ely to the area where Cardiff Bay Yacht Club now stands. It was a thoroughfare linking both banks of the river – allowing  pedestrians, including hundreds of sailors and dockworkers, to cross the Ely without negotiating the muddy river banks and taking the chain ferry.

Ive read lots old stories about this Subway whilst doing research for the project, it was opened in 1900 and used until 1936. It was then re-opened for use as an air-raid shelter during the Second World War and for dock operations when Penarth Docks were taken over by the US Navy in the run-up to D Day. Both entrances were  finally bricked up in 1963.

An awesome bit or relatively unknown history of Cardiff’s Bay area and Penarth, this was a fun project to work on. I looked at old images of ships and the docks, and also used an old photograph showing a worker leaving the tunnel for the main central piece in the mural. A number of old timers stopped to talk of their own memories of the tunnel, which was great to hear first hand experiences of the subject.

You never know… one day there may be murals of long forgotten landmarks that we all take for granted in our everyday life, wherever we reside.

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The Beacon centre – St Mellons

This was a fun job to do, and a somewhat nostalgic one too! One of my first “proper” commissions around 16/17 years ago was to paint a mural in this very room! An old friend of mine I knew through throwing ourselves down stairs and attacking curbs on skateboards was partly responsible for the creation of this building in St Mellons, and he got me on board (pardon the pun) as he could clearly see more talent in me as an artist rather than a part time ankle-twister. I have a lot to thank Dai for, he was, and still is, one of those golden individuals who always looks out for other people, and would bend over backwards to help anyone! He was a few years older, but never looked down on anyone younger than him in that patronising way people can do. He was one of the first to encourage me to do something a bit more productive with a spray can than I was used to. Anyway, I didn’t mean this to turn into a Dai “bloody” Hankey (thats another story) tribute, but like I said… Nostalgia plays a part in this.

Fast forward to 2016, and I was asked, completely unrelated to past times, to come and give the Beacon Centre youth lounge another make-over, in a geometric and pattern based style. I was only happy to be of service once again!

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Organic Rhythm

A fun Van-makeover for the Bristol based Drumming troupe Organic Rhythm. They came with a white van and an idea to use African patterns as a concept for the Artwork, and we included their logo on both sides and info on the back. A good way to turn heads for sure! Good luck with the new wheels… :)

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Pontcanna changing rooms

This mural is the first of 3 stages to transform the outside of Pontcanna changing rooms and inject some much needed love into the old buildings. There has been lots of work going in inside the building, which is home to various Rubgy and Football clubs and groups in the Cardiff area, and we are doing our bit to help add some colour and vibrancy to the outside walls. The changing rooms sit next to the beautiful Bute Park which stretches 130 acres with the River Taff running through the heart. The brief for this section of the mural was to “mirror” the pathway and view of Pontcanna fields that the wall faces, which is a lined with huge trees and the river in the distance.

This is a very popular footpath for cyclists, walkers and counters alike, hopefully this mural will help enhance the journey for everyone who passes, whatever the weather.

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Llandough Hospital Mural – Shangri-La

Whitchurch psychiatric hospital has been a major landmark in Cardiff and South Wales for many years. The amazing buildings were built in 1908 to house around 750 patients, and the original buildings covered over 5 acres. It was self – contained, had its own generators, water towers and even its own farm. During World War 2 part of the hospital was turned over to the military, becoming the largest emergency service hospital in South Wales.

Unfortunately, its time as a Hospital has now come to an and. Which brings me to this project. The site at Llandough Hospital has expanded to house a brand new psychiatric hospital as well as other new additions, and I was asked to create a mural in gardens of the new building. This was a very interesting brief in a very interesting setting. I was asked to provide a statement about the finished product and my thoughts behind it. Here it is.

Title – “Shangri La”

“The challenge with this piece of work was to create a calming environment that enhanced and complimented the space, without being too over-bearing. I looked at, and took inspiration from Chinese landscapes, Nature, and Feng Shui paintings. I have given this piece the title “Shangri-La.” In the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by James Hilton, the author described Shangri-La as “A mystical, harmonious valley” that became “synonymous with any earthly paradise”. My hope is that this mural will help anyone who spends time in the garden find a peaceful, reflective moment away from their daily pressures.” 
A great project to work on and I hope it does its job.
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Last of 2015… Ashford, Kent.

As always at this transitional time of year… I find myself in Kent visiting family. One tradition that has been going for around 5 or 6 years now is hooking up with my fellow SINSTARS crew member Skore, who resides in Kent. This year we were a bit pushed for time… so we headed to the local Ashford wall, a freestanding curved wall in the middle of a park. Its a nice little bite-size spot, perfect for working off christmas dinner without any major issues.

The first wall was a quick chrome and black featuring some vintage Mickey designs with Skore, as he had to head off for more family duties. The other side looked a bit sad so i killed another hour busting a colour fat-cap number just for kicks. back in time for more Christmas lunch. Result.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Lanzarote..

After a bit of a mental 2015 with pretty much no rest or break from work, we hit the wall. We decided to disappear for a week to wherever we could go (within reason) that had a hot climate during December. We desperately needed to recharge our batteries! Cue Lanzarote… but of course being the workaholic that i am, no trip abroad is complete without leaving a mark.

I hooked up with local painted “Crome”, who took me on a whistle stop tour of local spots. This was painted at a crazy open air nightclub that was open for one night only around 15 years ago, before going bankrupt. Now its a haven for local and visiting Graffiti Artists and paintball / BB Gun enthusiasts. This was painted whilst pellets were whistling past my ears.. but surprisingly everyone was very friendly and courteous, and kept to themselves. If we were anywhere in wales it would have been a different story haha.

Painted in 1.5 hours… continuing along the Watercolour idea.

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Not in my Name

This had to be done. For obvious reasons. I’m sure most people know about the “not in my name” campaign by now, thanks to social media. This is a reaction to the UK’s involvement in the Syria crisis and the overwhelming opposition to it. Once again, our government has taken to arms when the public say no. We obviously haven’t learned anything. The UK government is even now asking people to send aid to the very country that we are bombing. Women, children, innocent people getting killed every day. We even sell arms to the people that we are supposedly trying to get rid of! And what about the refugees of this crisis? Well, they’re all being left to rot in camps around the world with no-one offering to help, us included. Its like a bad fictional story.

This piece was painted in Cardiff city centre, and is overlooked by 2 main train lines in and out of the city. Hopefully it will help raise awareness and inspire people to take action. Check the video at the bottom of the page.

WAR = PROFIT. It must stop.

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Not in My Name – Peaceful Progress from Peaceful Progress on Vimeo.

BBC – Welsh sports review show 2015

Had fun working with the BBC on 3 murals for the Welsh sports review show at the end of the year. We painted a piece for the opening titles, and 2 others representing Welsh Rugby and football. Making an appearance was a good old Welsh Dragon, as it would be rude not to, as well as Gareth Bale. Here’s a few shots from the walls… a keep your eyes peeled when it hits the screen.

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