Watch: The stunning mural of a miner that has appeared in the Valleys
This is the wonderful mural of a miner which has been greeted with universal acclaim by locals for the beauty of the work and the story it tells.
Housed on the side of Parkside Funeral Home in Rhymney, this landmark piece of work is packed with detail and loaded with meaning.
The ornate artwork was painted over four days by talented graffiti artist Tom Llewellyn, best known by his non-de-plume Tee2Sugars.
WATCH DRONE FOOTAGE OF THE MURAL
Work on the mural was supposed to start late last year but the artist, from Merthyr, says that Covid put paid to those plans, as Wales went into lockdown.
“Work was due to start in December, which to be honest is not a good time to do a mural because of the weather,” says Tom. “So when restriction were eased we decided on April when we thought there would be better weather.
“It should have taken three days but we had everything from rain and sleet to snow and wind, you name it we had it,” he laughs. “Then as luck would have it the sun came out when the piece was finished.”
The story behind the genesis of the mural came about thanks to a love of running and street art.
Simon Lewis, who owns Parkside Funeral Home with his mother Pat Griffiths, is a keen marathon runner and often trains on the Taff Trail.
He cast admiring glances at Tom’s work, much of which can be seen on the Taff Trail. Deciding he’d love to see a mural on the side of the funeral home in Rhymney he contacted Tom and discussions began about what would be appropriate.
“The initial idea was a collage of different images, but in the end we decided on the image of the miner was the best idea given the tradition of mining in the area,” says Tom.
However, as he points out the mural is much more than that of miner.
Take the local landmark – the bent iron for instance.
Placed above the miner, the iron has a rich history locally.
“The history of the bent iron stems from 1935 when a group of railway workmen down the local pub decided to bend a piece of railway track and stuck it up on the mountainside.
“That’s where it remained until 2005 when a proper monument was created out of it. Given its relevance locally, Pat was keen to have the bent iron included in the piece.”
Also key to the mural are the words written upon it. They are lyrics taken from the song ‘Working Man’, originally released by Rita MacNeill in 1988, it was popularised by singer David Alexander.
‘It is played a lot at funerals and obviously has a certain amount fo poignancy given its location and the mining industry,” says Tom.
The lyrics read:
It’s a working man l am
And I’ve been down under ground
And I swear to God if l ever see the sun
Or for any length of time
I can hold it in my mind
I never again will go down under ground
The mural also features the miner holding a lantern – another key component of the piece.
“The idea is that because funerals are a dark time in people’s lives, the lantern is lighting the darkness, bringing light into people’s lives. So all these little things came together to make the mural what it is. It’s not like a piece of graffiti we wanted it to look like a proper painting.”
For the artist it’s the latest in a number of works he has put together since losing his job as a sign writer at the start of the pandemic.
Taking the decision to become a street artist full time, the 32-year-old father of two has not looked back.
Working on projects with schools, businesses and individuals, he’s booked up solid until 2023 – and hopes to expand his horizons internationally.
“I’ve set up a You Tube channel where I collaborate with other street artists,” says Tom. “I’m a big fan of a German artist called Smoenova and I’ll be heading to Germany next year to do a piece together with him.”
For now it’s all brewing up nicely for the artist called Tee2Sugars.
And if you are wondering…
“I’ve been called T since the age of 15, because of Tom,” explains the artist. “And I like my tea with two sugars!”
Follow @Tee2Sugars on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
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