"Town's 'alien invasion' turns out to be art installation." That was the headline in the Merthyr Express after the weekend of the Merthyr Rising festival in 2016. The light beam, visible up to 5 miles away, was part of David Appleyard's research and engagement for his commission for Penderyn Square, a key project within the Merthyr Tydfil town centre public art scheme.

His brief was to research the history of Penderyn Square in relation to the Merthyr Rising and the Dic Penderyn story and to engage with local people to develop and test out ideas through temporary interventions. The commission had an extensive programme of consultation and engagement over a period of about 10 months.

As part of the Merthyr Rising festival in 2016, David decided that the anniversary of the events of 1831 should be remembered via a beacon of positivity, shining brightly from the famous Kier Hardy balcony of Redhouse. The idea was inspired by Thomas Hornor’s painting of Merthyr at night, which shows dramatic light beams shining out of the ironworks. David collaborated with local photographer Richard Jones (MLA Photography), whose photographs captured the beam of light from various points in Merthyr and the surrounding hills. Following the weekend of the festival the photographs and the story were published by the Merthyr Express and shared widely on walesonline.

During the Merthyr Rising festival, David also raised the profile of his project locally and engaged with people through specially made beer mats which he had distributed to pubs, restaurants and venues around the festival area. The beer mats invited people to write comments about Merthyr on them and at the end of the festival they were collected. The beer mats gave a good indication of what people really think about Merthyr and its potential. The response was overwhelmingly positive and helped David develop his final design for Penderyn Square.

During the research phase of this project David developed a web presence
via social media pages (Facebook, Twitter @PENDERYNSQ and Instagram PenderynSQ) and a website /