Vale of Glamorgan Civic Offices Roundel
In the summer of 2008 the Vale of Glamorgan Council appointed artist Charles Gurrey and poet Gillian Clarke to create a roundel for the newly redesigned public space in front of the Civic Offices.
To the left of the path leading to the main entrance of the Civic Offices from Holton Road is the Merchant Seaman’s Memorial and to the right is a new semi-circular seating area. The roundel is set into the paving within the seating area.
The brief to the artists was to create an artwork which in some way interpreted the concepts of civic and citizenship and to reflect Barry – the town and its citizens. However, this needed to be done with very few words in order to fit the space and in addition the poetic text needed to be in both Welsh and English. Gillian Clarke devised the following succinct lines which curve around within the circle:
“Severn tides lap Harbour and Knap
coal, wind and sea
- our history”
“Llanw a lli a llongau glo
dros y môr
- ein hanes ni”
Charles Gurrey designed the letters which were cast in bronze and set into a single piece of granite. The shapes of the letters are bold and sculptural, contemporary and legible, and suit the meaning of the text – Barry’s current day pride in its history. The background to the letters has a green, aged bronze patina whilst the letters standing proud are a shinier golden bronze but with a rubbed texture which has also picked up the green patina.
Following a BA in Philosophy Politics and Economics at Oxford and an MPhil in Philosophy at Cambridge, Gurrey completed a five-year apprenticeship as architectural carver and decorative sculptor in Dick Reid's workshop in York. He then remained at that workshop as Principal Assistant until 1994 when he became a self-employed architectural carver and sculptor. Gurrey’s commissions include several works for York Minster, the complete scheme of figurework in stone for the West Front of Guildford Cathedral, and a sculpture for Dunorlan Park incorporating text by Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate at the time.