Exhibition of unique industrial artwork by Welsh artist Falcon Hildred

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The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust (IGMT) is working with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales to save a unique collection of over 600 original drawings and watercolours by the Wales-based artist, Falcon Hildred, for future generations.

Based in Aberystwyth, the Royal Commission has been awarded £46,700 by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to acquire this outstanding visual record of industrial buildings and townscapes; a selection of original artwork will be on display at the Coalbrookdale Gallery from the autumn.

With the help of volunteers, the collection has been catalogued, and high-quality scanning will ensure that superb digital images will be available online through Coflein (the Royal Commission’s online database), and both the Ironbridge and People’s Collection Wales websites. In addition, exhibitions, public talks and an authoritative publication are planned for 2012 to further publicise the collection.

Falcon Hildred is a highly accomplished artist who has dedicated his working life to recording the buildings and landscapes of nineteenth-and twentieth-century industry, producing works of high aesthetic, historic and social value. He has recorded in detail technological and engineering change and a rapidly disappearing way of life. The drawings record Blaenau Ffestiniog (the artist’s home since 1969 and a place he has recorded extensively), and a number of industrial towns in Wales and England. These include Cardiff, Newport and Swansea, as well as Grimsby, Coventry, London and Birmingham.

A major exhibition of selected originals will run from late September 2012 to April 2013 in the Coalbrookdale Gallery at Ironbridge with further touring exhibitions being planned from 2013 onwards. Digital versions of the exhibition will be shown at the Royal Welsh Show and the National Eisteddfod in 2013. A book highlighting the significance of the collection and the artist will be published in September 2012. This publication and the research for it will be the basis for a series of new educational and outreach sessions at Ironbridge led by the Museum’s education staff and their volunteers. Educational material will also be generated for the People’s Collection Wales website.

Commenting on the award, Peter Wakelin, Secretary of the Royal Commission, said, “The acquisition of this collection represents a lifetime’s recording work being safeguarded for the future. Falcon Hildred gives us inspiring new ways of looking at historic buildings and landscapes that readily engage everyone from small children to architects and heritage experts. It is great news that this fantastic resource will be now available to all in perpetuity.”

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Steve Miller, CEO of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust said, “We are immensely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for their support in acquiring this amazing collection. We are looking forward to working with the Royal Commission to ensure that as many people as possible can enjoy the work of a brilliant and unique artist whose documenting of the industrial age is truly breath-taking.”

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