Kinetic Trees, Canolfan Soar
This commission was part of the Merthyr Tydfil Town Centre Public Art scheme. Theatr Soar is an important asset in the cultural life of the town and is also a centre for the Welsh language in Merthyr. It is highly visible from the car park at the rear which provides a convenient access point, however the High Street entrance is less visible. The view from High Street is screened by shop fronts so that the theatre entrance can only be seen at the end of the passageway. This reduced visibility prompted this commission to make a work of art that brings the theatre's presence firmly into the High Street and gives it greater prominence.
Martin Smith was commissioned to create a dynamic sculptural intervention at the passageway's entrance to the High Street that would announce the theatre's presence, whilst also reflecting that this area of Pontmorlais is a conservation area.
Martin's design of two stylised metal trees forming an arch above the gates, with a lantern in the centre, creates a welcoming and contemporary entrance that also nods to the past. Old photographs of the entrance show that originally there was a metalwork arch above the gate which supported a lantern. One tree branches out over the pavement, ensuring that pedestrians are alerted to the theatre's entrance from much further down the street.
Instead of leaves, the trees are decorated with yellow kinetic elements that spin in the wind. During the design process Martin held workshops at Theatr Soar to create hand held spinning machines with children and adults.