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Pontypridd Gateway Sculpture Erected

An inspiring new gateway sculpture celebrating the unique history of Pontypridd has been erected at the entrance to the famous valleys town.

“Unity” is an iconic piece of artwork erected at the A470 entrance to Pontypridd and once more illustrates Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s ongoing commitment to the regeneration of the market town.”

This staggering piece of public art, measuring 15 metres in height and weighing 1,3280kg in steel, was created by award-winning sculptor Andy Hazell.

The Knighton Powys-based artist has recently been shortlisted to design a commissioned piece of work for the 2012 Olympics in London.

He was chosen out of 77 national and international artists to design an iconic landmark feature for Pontypridd. His ‘Wheel of Drams’ has become a popular landmark in Hengoed and his giant ‘Thumbprint’ sculpture attracts attention outside the Swansea police headquarters.

The central theme of the sculpture is “convergence” in that Pontypridd is the town where two rivers and many roads, railways and people meet. Following a series of workshops, Andy Hazell completed the initial designs for the work by incorporating three main elements of Pontypridd’s history.

The three elements, representing the three valleys of Rhondda Cynon Taf, are “rail”, “bridge” and “bows”. Firstly the image of a wheel signifies the massive contribution made to the rapid population increase in Pontypridd by the coming of the Taff Vale Railway. It was this main artery that allowed easy access for the coal industry to reach Cardiff and in 1913 a staggering 57million tones of the precious “black gold” traveled through Pontypridd railway station alone.

The second element of the “bridge” naturally refers to William Edwards’s famous feat of engineering with the creation of the iconic “Old Bridge” in 1756 which at one time was the longest single-span bridge in Europe.

Finally the element of “bows” represents the mining industry that fuelled the British fleet. It also refers to the chains forged at the former Brown Lenox Chainwork which once stood nearby and was used by Victorian Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel for many of his famous ships.

This visually impressive sculpture has been built to instill a sense of confidence in the community in celebration of the many attractive aspects of Pontypridd. It is intended to encourage more people to foster and harbour a sense of pride not only in Pontypridd but the whole of Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The £99,000 commission contract for “Unity” was raised through a joint funding package from a variety of sources, including Arts Council of Wales, Art and Business, Pontypridd Town Council, Pontypridd Market Company and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council.

Its completion signifies yet another achievement in the ongoing programme of regeneration for Pontypridd which has included the opening of the Pennant House development, new specialist eateries and boutiques, the illumination scheme of the William Edwards Bridge and Brunel Viaduct and the removal of traffic from Taff Street during its busiest shopping hours.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Housing Cllr Paul Cannon explained: “This magnificent new piece of artwork will generate a massive amount of interest to visitors and residents of Pontypridd alike and I’m confident it will be seen as another step forward to highlight the regeneration process of the county town.

“The association between famous physical features and their respective towns and cities is an important part of promoting the identity of a place, often acting as an enticement for people to come and visit. That is precisely what we envisage “Unity” will do for Pontypridd.

“This piece of artwork, coupled with the new lighting schemes, traffic management and plans for the enhancement of the streetscape of Pontypridd are all part of our programme of regeneration which is long overdue.

“We need to change people’s perceptions of the town centre and encourage more visitors to come and enjoy not only a unique shopping experience, but the many fascinating historical and cultural attractions on offer here.

“This sculpture will undoubtedly draw many more visitors to Pontypridd who will be curious to see the visual impact of the landscape of such an inspiring piece of art.”

Dr Kath Davies, Arts Council of Wales' Head of Funding, added: "The Arts Council of Wales is delighted to support Pontypridd Gateway Sculpture. The project plays an important part in the regeneration of the area and celebrates its history in an innovative and exciting way."

The sculpture was completed just over a month after the launch of a new marketing campaign led by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council to highlight the many attractions in Pontypridd. It was launched in conjunction with a new website that highlights the many achievements that the Council’s regeneration team has delivered, the exciting new plans under development, the many successful events being held in Pontypridd, and the variety of shopping and entertainment the town has to offer. The website also provides up to date news which is relevant to the town.

For further details on the regeneration and promotion of Pontypridd, then visit www.loveponty.com.