Poignant sculpture unveiled as memorial to the victims of Aberfan
A striking and poignant sculpture has been unveiled at the Rhondda Heritage Museum in memory of the 144 who lost their lives at Aberfan.
The sculpture by renowned Welsh artist Nathan Wyburn has been installed at the Coal Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park.
The artwork, called 21.10.1966 144 9.13AM, is made from concrete and corten steel. It contains 144 clocks – the same number of adults and children who died when a colliery spoil tip collapsed into homes and Pantglas Junior School. Each of the clocks are set to 9.13am – the exact time the disaster happened, on October 21, 1966.
“I’m so proud to unveil my first ever public sculpture,” said Nathan. “As a Welsh man who grew near Aberfan, taking on such a subject was challenging and emotional.”
The sculpture is based on a photography of miner Johnny Thomas who was one of the first on the scene.
“Every year on the anniversary of the Aberfan disaster I think of the photo of Johnny and I see the distress and the heartache and worry in his face and that’s what inspired me to create this memorial.
The sculpture also features 144 clocks all stopped at 9.13am, and is based on a widely shared image of a clock pulled from the rubble that was stopped at the exact time of the disaster.
“I researched and met with Johnny’s family to find out more about him,” says Nathan. “Johnny was a local miner who had just finished his shift and rushed to the scene to try and help.
“I felt it was important to remain respectful but also create a piece of art that educates future generations.”
Thousands across Wales fall silent on October 21 each year in remembrance of Aberfan. The devastating loss caused by the tragedy, as well as the impact it had on not only survivors, but the Aberfan community for generations, will never be forgotten.
“It is fitting that, 55 years later, a memorial to those lost in the disaster has been unveiled the Welsh Coal Mining Experience, which has been built on the footprint of a former coal mine,” says Nathan.
Find out more about the artist via his website