'Reflections of Tongwynlais' Art Exhibition | June 26th - 30th 2019

The next Kevin Williams Art village project will see the ‘Reflections of Tongwynlais’ Art Exhibition taking place at the Bethesda UCL Chapel, Tongwynlais as part of the Tongwynlais & Whitchurch Festival which runs from June 26th to July 6th. The exhibition will be open to visitors on:

26th June: 3.00pm – 9.30pm

28th June: 3.00pm – 8.00pm

29th June: 10.00am – 6.00pm

30th June 11.30am – 6.00pm

There will also be a private viewing by invitation only evening on Fri. 21st June which will be opened by The Lord Mayor of Cardiff - Daniel De’ath and the Castell Coch Choral Society will also be in attendance to entertain. One of the important features of the village project is the collaboration with the village schools and this one will be no different as work from the pupils of Tongwynlais Primary school will feature alongside my work.

Tongwynlais is probably best known for its neo-gothic fairy tale Castell Coch (Red Castle) which is cradled by the beautiful Fforest Fawr and designed by William Burgess during the 1870’s for the fabulously wealthy 3rd Marquess of Bute, John Crichton-Stuart. The village is on the northern boundary of Cardiff but it has a slightly 'disconnected from Cardiff' feel to it because of the huge Coryton roundabout which is the largest in the UK at nearly one mile in circumference and a land mass of 30 acres. Because of this, Tongwynlais still retains the charm of a rural village as it sits at the mouth of the Taff Gorge with over 2,000 inhabitants.

The beautiful mixed woodland of Fforest Fawr shrouds Tongwynlais and is famed for its beech trees and bluebell/garlic/anemone displays and there are some fantastic trails leading through it making it ideal for family walks. It’s often used as a filming location for Welsh historical dramas and children's TV programmes and there is even a featured sculpture trail. There are still traces of iron mining evident with romantic names for places of interest such as ‘Three Bears Cave’ and the ‘Blue Waters’ and the area is managed by National Resources Wales. Take the time to check out the ‘Forest Tea Rooms’ which are nestled under the canopy of the tree-clad woodland.

At one time, Tongwynlais played an important part in the transport system as the 1794 built Glamorganshire canal ran through it and one of only three boat weighing machines built were sited there before it was dismantled and taken to a museum in England. The busy railway also ran through with a station built in 1911 before shutting down in 1931 making it one of the shortest-lived railway stations in Glamorgan history along with Glan-y-Llyn, Nantgarw, Upper Boat and Rhydyfelin. The impressive Walnut Tree Viaduct was built in 1901 by Sir James Szlumper and before it was dismantled in 1969, it was an imposing sight as you looked from the village. There was also 180yd long railway tunnel which would have been running adjacent to Merthyr Road, roughly on the stretch which connects the roundabout at Ynys Bridge to Tongwynlais.

Sadly, there are only two pubs left in Ton – Tongwynlais Rugby Club (formerly The Cardiff Castle) and the Lewis Arms leaving the likes of The Bute Arms and The Castell Coch consigned to the history books. The most imposing building to have stood in the area is sadly no longer with us – Greenmeadow House which in effect was grand mansion built in a Gothic style and owned by the Lewis Family who made their fortune through the canals, roads and ironworks. Surviving photographs show it as magnificent property with large gardens which all sadly fell into disrepair and eventually demolished in the 1940’s.

The main part of the village has to be the square and the lovely St Michael and All Angels Church building which was built in 1877, sits on the main road just a little way down from the Bethesda UCL Chapel which is on the opposite side of the road and will be the venue of my latest village art project ‘Reflections of Tongwynlais’. The event forms part of the Tongwynlais & Whitchurch Festival and follows the hugely successful two week ‘Both Sides of the River’ Art Exhibition held in Fagins, Taff’s Well which featured paintings and drawings of Taff’s Well and Gwaelod y Garth scenes.

One of the most gratifying parts of the projects has been my collaboration with the staff and pupils of Gwaelod Y Garth and Taff’s Well Primary Schools and now Tongwynlais Primary School, which means around thirty lucky (and talented!) children will get to see their work hang alongside mine in the exhibition. For those with a liking for art and an interest in the surrounding area, all my paintings will be on sale throughout the exhibition and featured throughout the website plus I will be on hand throughout the exhibition and looking forward to meeting and greeting everyone.