Blaenau Ffestiniog: Something More than Pride by @juliandobson
Blaenau Ffestiniog has been on my to-visit list ever since I met artist Howard Bowcott at a conference a couple of years ago. I'd seen pictures of the artworks created as part of the town's regeneration project, and wanted to put the work in context. Blaenau has been described as the 'hole in the polo mint' of the Snowdonia National Park in Wales, UK. When the park was created, a boundary was drawn around this devastated hub of the now defunct slate-quarrying industry. It was as if there was nothing to celebrate and no reason to go there. On one level that's understandable. Arriving in Blaenau some years ago might have felt like entering the gates of Mordor: shattered hillsides piled with the remnants of slate mining, shops and pubs struggling to survive. Today there are still plenty of problems. This is not a rich area. At the Seren social enterprise, which provides work ...