A beautiful and very colourful mosaic of a striking view of Tenby has just been unveiled on the outside wall of the new Tenby Church in Wales VC Primary School at Heywood Lane. The mosaic is the work of artist Paul Webb working with staff, pupils and members of the public. This mosaic is the latest addition to the many art works in Tenby. If you know where to look Tenby possesses a varied collection of public art. Take a stroll around the town and keep your eyes open!
One of the oldest public work of Art in Tenby is the Welsh National Memorial to the Prince Consort (Prince Albert) located on the top of the Castle Hill. Albert has watched over Tenby since 1865, often with a seagull perched on his head. The eight feet nine inches tall statue was sculptured from a block of Sicilian marble by welsh artist John Evan Thomas. The figure stands with the head uncovered; baton in hand, attired in a field marshal’s uniform wearing the mantle and collar of the Order of the Garter. The fact that this memorial is in Tenby and not Swansea or Cardiff helps illustrate the importance of the town during the Victorian period. I’m proud to be able to claim a family connection with the memorial as my Great Great Grandfather transported the statue from Narberth Road station (Clunderwen) to Tenby.
The Castle Hill is a popular location for art works. On the rear wall of Tenby Museum overlooking the reproduction bandstand is a fine mural commissioned by the trustees of the museum. Unveiled in 1991, the mural by welsh artist Jonah Jones is 36 foot long and has as its theme ‘The Sea, The Sea’. ‘An abstract of the sea merging into a profile of Castle Hill’ was how the artist described his design. He revealed that he had intended to portray the rhythms of the sea, the breaking of waves and the ripples they make on the sand. ‘It is also partially about the 11th century song ‘In Praise of Tenby’ explained Mr. Jones. The Tenby Observer described it as ‘an eye-catching masterpiece’.
Another piece of art by Jonah Jones can be found near the entrance door to the museum. Designed and carved by Jonah Jones the octagonal welsh slate plaque features a Tenby lugger in relief. The plaque was erected to the memory of Mr. Ivor Crockford and was unveiled in 1992.
Opposite the welsh slate plaque is Tenby’s real Ironman! A sculpture in bronze by internationally known Bavarian artist Robert Raschke who now resides in Tenby. The sculpture was presented by Robert to Tenby Museum in 2015. With the annual Ironman event held in Tenby it makes a perfect photo opportunity for Ironman athletes.
Tudor Square plays host to the so called ‘Dyster Memorial Fountain’. Originally erected in 1867, it was removed in the early 1990s after being damaged in a collision. Following the refurbishment of Tudor Square it was returned to the square in a safer position than originally placed. Erected by Dr. Dyster in memory of Tenby resident Lt. Col. Thomas Wedgwood who fought at Waterloo. A more appropriate title would be ‘The Wedgwood Memorial Fountain’.
In the indoor market can be found a superb panorama of Tenby history in the form of a 32 foot mural by artist Eric Bradforth. The mural design was originally entered in the competition for the Tenby Museum site. It was subsequently commissioned by the local authority for the indoor market. Eric also designed the Tenby memorial gates for the town’s war memorial along with the badges which decorate the gates.
Many further examples of public art can be found in Tenby including the gates to the Guides Hut in Warren Street, a horse’s head on the porch of the Atlantic Hotel on the Esplanade, the events notice board in the South Parade and the Christ figure in the memorial garden of St. Mary’s Church. Keep your eyes open when shopping and look for the entrance door mosaics for T.P. Hughes & son (at M & Co) and The Tenby Drug Store. Remember to look up as well as down and see what you can find while enjoying an arty stroll around Tenby. Don’t forget to check out St. Mary’s Church in Tudor Square and Tenby Museum & Art Gallery on Castle Hill for more fine art.
Sadly there is no memorial in Tenby to the town’s greatest artist – Augustus John. John was awarded the Freedom of Tenby and attended a grand civic ceremony to receive the award. There was talk about erecting a statue in honour of the Tenby born artist but to date nothing has been done. A project for someone to take on?