Friday, 21 December 2012

Pontypool: Transforming Historic Town to its Former Glory

Photo Art 2nd year's involvement in the town of Pontypool has made leaps and bounds over the past few weeks. There's an update on the whole project now on the UWN website. You can read it all below (continuted after the jump):
Newport University’s Photographic Art students are set to help restore Pontypool town centre to its former glory as part of a major £2.6million project. 
The group of 43 students and their lecturers have been commissioned by Torfaen County Borough Council to create art work for use in the production of hoardings as part of the Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI), a Heritage Lottery Fund programme to help communities regenerate the historic aspects of their towns and cities. 
It focuses on delivering sustainable conservation in urban areas, bringing new uses and new life back into areas that have lost their traditional economic bases. 
The project runs until 2016 and is funded by a range of organisations including the Heritage Lottery Fund; European Regeneration Development Fund, targeted match funding, Cadw, Pontypool Regeneration Partnership and Torfaen County Borough Council. 
The students, who are in the second year of their BA (Hons) Photographic Art degree course, met THI project officer for Torfaen, Graham Middleton, during a visit to Pontypool Museum, where he outlined their brief for the project.
Explaining why Pontypool had been chosen for the THI, Torfaen’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Lewis Jones, said: “Pontypool is a town of historic importance, with many buildings of considerable quality, but unfortunately many of the most prominent buildings are in poor condition. It was quite a wealthy town until the 1930s when it started to go into decline.” 
As well as raising awareness of the THI, the Art Hoardings project aims to brighten up the town centre while regeneration work is undertaken on many of its historic buildings, while engaging with the community and expressing their memories and aspirations for Pontypool.
Following their research of the town, the students will be asked to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, including Graham and their lecturers – Matt White, Peter Bobby and Matt Simmons – who will decide which projects to take forward to the council. 
Matt White, Senior Lecturer in Photographic Art, said: “This is the first time we’ve worked with such a big organisation in this way. The project will help expand the students’ ideas about other photographic practices and give them an idea of what it would be like to pitch to companies for commissioning.” 
Cath Tarling, Enterprise Engagement Manager at the University of Wales, Newport, added: “Projects such as this are vital in encouraging our students to think and work in an enterprising way, while gaining valuable entrepreneurial skills which will give them a head start in the business world once they leave university.” 
Three of the students – Lauren Clithero, Jodi Westmacott and Rebekka Gill – are working on the unique idea of creating a life-size game of Cluedo to re-enact the mysterious story of the William Alfred Lewis murder, an unresolved case dating back to 1939. 
Rebekka said: “We’re all fascinated by the famous Pontypool story but didn’t want to tell it in a dark, morbid way – instead we want it to be interactive so that the community can get involved. 
“Lauren has been in touch with Monty Dart, who is currently writing a book about the murder, and was able to get hold of some old Scotland Yard archive photographs and maps that we can use as materials.” 
And Laura Goss, who is contributing towards a blog documenting the project, is working with the children at Penygarn Community Primary school in Pontypool.  
She said: “I’ve asked the children to take a photograph of what Pontypool means to them, and their images will be used in a montage as part of the final piece of art. I thought it was important to involve a local school because it’s an integral part of the community.” 
The partnership was made possible by Bright Ideas at the University of Wales, Newport, which links students with projects that will develop their enterprise skills and provide opportunities for them to work on innovative projects with real organisations. 
The Photographic Art students will hold regular drop-in sessions in Pontypool market on Wednesdays for the community to see their work and offer their suggestions and views on the project. 
For more information on the Art Hoardings project, go to: .

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