Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Keep Chiseling Away

Weird Fact: The most comments I've ever received for a post on this blog concerned sculpture.

No doubt the sculpture vultures of Mid Wales are eagerly awaiting the artistic treasures to be unveiled at Llandrindod's newly discovered, indeed newly invented, inner-gateway. With the promise of bandaged trees, clothes pegs and neon lights on offer, the Victorian group pictured must seem very old hat. It is a work entitled The Death of Tewdric, King of Gwent by the Brecon born sculptor John Evan Thomas (1810-1873)

Now I'd like to say a word or two in favour of this work, and not just because Evan Thomas's mother, Jane Evans, came from the tranquil Radnorshire parish of Aberedw. For this is a revolutionary work, completed in that year of Revolution,1848. It appeared at a time when the very idea of Wales had been expunged from the consciousness of the British state with the abolition of the last surviving Welsh institution, the Court of Great Sessions in 1830. In a legal sense Wales no longer existed.

The work won the prize of 70 guineas at the Eisteddfod at Abergavenny organised by Lady Llanover and it was surely these romantic nationalists who planted the seed of later national revival. So yes, it is a revolutionary work, a work that shouted out in defiance that Wales continued to exist, despite the obvious wishes of the British state. Will the works promised for the inner-gateway have similar fire in their belly? Somehow I doubt it.

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