Wales looks forward – this Iron Ring shouldn’t shackle us to the past
Ifan Morgan Jones
Cadw has today released a statement defending the ‘Iron Ring’ sculpture that is due to be to installed at Flint Castle.
It’s heartening that they state their willingness to “continue to listen to a range of views on this important project as it evolves”.
However, their readiness to budge on the issue seems to be limited to the “words inscribed on the sculpture”.
But let’s face facts here. Despite Cadw’s claim that art “can be interpreted in many ways” there is very little debate as to how the sculpture was originally meant to be interpreted.
The architects’ own press release clearly states that the “giant iron ring [is] meant to reference the chain of castles Flint belongs to”.
Cadw’s message is essentially: “It’s a giant iron ring called the Iron Ring designed to symbolise Edward I’s Iron Ring of castles – but you can interpret it however you like!”
Symbols of nationhood
What really rankles is not just that £400,000 is being spent on a sculpture that is essentially a monument to Wales’ conquest.
It’s that this is the first time I can remember the Welsh Government investing in any kind of national monument.
This monument might well have a place within a nation full of monuments to its own history. But what other symbols of our nationhood do we have, other than the Senedd itself?
We’re told that Edward I’s castles are an important driver for tourists and that we need to promote them.
But isn’t that indicative of a larger problem? That 700 years later, we still haven’t built anything else of note?
And when our young, confident nation does get a chance to erect one, we build yet another reminder of our colonial past.
If we’re going to build the Welsh equivalent of the ‘Angel of the North’ – something that sums up our national character – we need to have a long, hard think about what it says about us.
A new narrative
The sculpture will no doubt now go back to the drawing board. When even Cerys Matthews weighs in to criticise, you know a rethink is required.
What seems likely is that rather than symbolising Wales’ subjugation by Edward I, the design will be tweaked slightly to pay homage to Wales’s fortitude in resisting said conquest.
This would be a mistake. While attractive, this ‘Yma o Hyd’ narrative is in truth just as bad as the statue’s original meaning.
It’s just indicative of a post-colonial rather than colonial mentality. ‘We’re stil here’ is in itself a bloody depressing message.
The current design says ‘here are a conquered people’. The likely redesign will say ‘here are a conquered people who are – woohoo! – just about still here’.
The backlash to this sculpture isn’t about resenting the English. Neither is it about revelling in victimhood.
It’s about the fact that we’re past that. Wales is a now a confident nation that is stepping forward into a bright future.
We need a sculpture that will reflect that new reality. If only our Government had the vision to commission it.
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Cytuno cant a cant, 100% agree, perhaps a 100m #YesCymru logo, or “Dyma lle mae’r dyfodol”
Da iawn, da ni angen i’r llywodraeth gwrando
Who ever the idiot is who runs CADW, Celebrate All Defeats of the Welsh, who supported this Iron Ring should be sacked. He knows nothing of the history of Wales. Skates should resign, he wants to make the north a suburb of Manchester and the south of Bristol. He is a Quisling of the worst order, a total disgrace.
I totally disagree about Wales being a “confident nation that is stepping forward into a bright future”. Only a fully paid up member of Plaid Cymru could believe that kind of naive bilge. Wales is far from confident, it’s still fundamentally where it was nearly 500 years ago, annexed by the English state. We’re not even at the stage where we could be correctly described as post colonial, as we are, to all intents and purposes a colony, whose primary purpose is, apparently, to be a giant playground for English tourists. The reality is that Wales is a far from… Read more »
Pleased to report that Plaid have been challenging it very robustly http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/832669/flint-castle-ring-of-steel-Llyr-Huws-Gruffydd-george-king-architect-plaid-cymru-medieval https://twitter.com/RhunapIorwerth/status/889592162731642882
Plaid politicians challenged this straight away. Nobody else is getting on the Daily Express website to do so?
Attacking our own side is as much a feature of our history as submitting to conquest.
Spot on – Sibrydionmawr.
£400,000 looks like an underestimate. During Jason Mohammad’s radio wales phone in this morning it emerged during a discussion with a supporter of this hair brained scheme – David Hanson MP – that the cost might rise to half a million and possibly more. On a positive note most contributors to the show were critical of the proposal and felt it is deeply offensive to wales.
its horrible as usual any crap will do for wales the angel of the north is fab why should we be expected to pay for this s**t sick of it money should be spent somewhere else stupid idiots
As a Welsh sculptor, I’m all for new sculptures throughout Wales; but this one is an insult and every Welsh man and woman should oppose the very idea of such an disgraceful, blatant and offensive piece of propaganda. It’s time to show how we feel to the Welsh (labour) Government and it’s sad little office of the Arts Council IN Wales (not OF Wales). Don’t think that I’ll be getting any commissions from that lot!!
Given that it is a rusty ring, the only appropriate thing I’ve seen regarding it is;
Since this is slated to be erected at one of the better known English castles, which tourists visit anyway. From an economic perspective, any monument raised near or around a castle should be established at one fo the native Welsh castles to attract visitors to spend their money in other parts of Cymru. Why not raise a monument by Dinefŵr or Castell y Bere that’s equally visible from great distances? This would attract people to learn about Welsh history whilst helping Cymru economically. Synnwyr cyffredin pobl!
Yes, then visitors could learn about Welsh shitbag kings and robber barons instead of just Anglo Norman shitbag kings and robber barons!