It has been a busy weekend for Rob Brydon – not only was he honoured at the Bafta Cymru ceremony with the Sian Phillips Award, but he also met a life-size steel version of himself as he paid a visit to a newly installed artwork near his hometown of Port Talbot in South Wales.
Rob Brydon was chosen to be immortalised in steel alongside acting legend Richard Burton and a local man – forest ranger Dick Wagstaff – all local heroes to the community in the town of Cwmafan near Port Talbot .
The artwork is part of a national project called the Portrait Bench – from sustainable transport charity Sustrans who are one of the largest commissioners of public art in the UK.
This is the first of 80 benches to be installed across the UK on newly created walking and cycling routes.
The bench is accompanied by three life-size effigies of local heroes chosen by the local community to represent them, their culture and their history.
The figures are cut from corten steel (like the famous Angel of the North) so that they will rust and weather to become a natural part of the landscape.
Rob Brydon, said
“This is a great honour and I look forward to offering weary cyclists the chance to catch their breath. I love the thought of becoming part of the landscape alongside Dick Wagstaff and the great Richard Burton. I’m hoping that my sculpture might be able to persuade Burton’s sculpture to quote some poetry of an evening, or at least a bit of War Of The Worlds.”
Richard Burton’s family have also visited the bench and were thrilled to see Richard placed in the Valley he loved so much,
Graham Jenkins – brother of Richard Burton and local man in Cwmafan where the bench was placed, said,
“Its wonderful that my brother will be commemorated in this way – our family are thrilled.
He never forgot where he came from – the Afan Valley – and I know he would be tickled pink to see himself become an actual part of the landscape in.
This portrait is fantastic.
We were born in this Valley and it’s wonderful that the people here have chosen Richard he would have absolutely loved this.
We just live nearby so we are looking forward to coming for walks and maybe having a rest to enjoy the scenery with Richard for company.”
Katy Hallet, Director of Arts at Sustrans and the creative force behind this community art project, said,
“Portraiture is a normal and traditional way for communities to recognise loved and admired ones or people who have inspired them.
These three figures say something about this community and when all 80 benches are installed, there will be over 240 figures to show us snapshots of how communities across the UK see themselves and their history.
Each bench is similar but each is very different.”
The charity won a public vote in 2007 to create new walking and cycling routes across the UK to help people make more short local journeys on foot or by bike.