WORKTOWN - the drawings of Falcon Hildred
Unique" industrial landscapes go on display at the the National Slate Museum Llanberis 22.7.2013 – 6.1.2014
The National Slate Museum Llanberis is hosting a stunning new panelpanel exhibition of the remarkable paintings and drawings of Blaenau- based industrial artist, Falcon Hildred.
A resident in Blaenau Ffestiniog since 1969, Falcon Hildred’s mission has been to make a visual record of the buildings of a disappearing industrial culture. During the past half century he has documented a wealth of buildings and landscapes through detailed but evocative drawings and has dedicated his working life to recording the buildings and landscapes of 19th- & 20th- CcCentury industry, producing works of high aesthetic, historic and social value, as he explains:
“The thing about buildings is that they’re about people,’ says Falcon. “Everything we do in life is either in or around buildings. We celebrate, we teach, we live, we work, we heal, we compete, we store – everything is done in and around buildings, and they therefore embody all our needs, all our hopes, our beliefs, our fears. They are the symbols of all our values, really, in civilisation, from cottage to cathedral. They are the symbols of what we want and what we believe. So the risk is that when you destroy a building you risk destroying something of ourselves.”
The exhibition, which has previously been seen at the seen at Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, documents the industrial past of both England and Wales but the particular special focus at the National Slate Museum will be images from ofof the slate industry. Renowned for the quality of its products, especially its roofing slates and slabs - - ―which in its heyday, during the late nineteenth century, were exported to markets all over the world - - ―the industry affected the visual character of numerous British ‘worktowns’, providing the roofing material for mill settlements in Lancashire and Yorkshire, mining villages in the south Wales valleys, housing across London, and many other townscapes.
But the slate industry also created its own ‘worktowns’ in north-west Wales, where towns and villages built of slate were surrounded by whole landscapes dedicated to the quarrying, mining, processing and transport of the same material. Much of Falcon’s exploration of the industry has focused on Blaenau Ffestiniog, the largest of the slate towns and one of the greatest producing areas, with remains of twenty quarries. Indeed the NationalSlateMuseum commissioned Falcon Hildred to record its row of Quarrymen’s Houses from Tanygrisiau near Blaenau Ffestiniog before they were dismantled and rebuilt at the museum in 1998.
The exhibition has been created by The Royal Commission on the Ancient and HistoricalMonuments of Wales, working in partnership with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. In total, the Commission has acquired an unique collection of over 600 original drawings of industrial buildings and landscapes as Dr Peter Wakelin, the Secretary of the Commission, explained:
“Falcon’s lifetime of work amounts to a unique record of working-class cultural and industrial landscapes. The collection is a superb resource for anyone interested in this heritage, much of which has disappeared since Falcon documented it. This exhibition and the book accompanying it will make many more people aware of his work and the fascinating history it stands for.”
The exhibition can be seen at the museum until January 6th 2014. Admission is free.
The National Slate Museum is open daily until the end of October, and then Sunday – Friday 10am – 4pm between November and March.
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