Riverside Walkway, SA1
The SA1 Swansea Waterfront is a development scheme to transform a post-industrial brownfield site into a vibrant mixed-use development of business, residential, retail and leisure offer. The Prince of Wales Dock was known throughout the world as a busy trading port. (At one time 6,000 ships a year were sailing in and out of the port.) Opened in 1881 the Prince of Wales Dock was extended in 1898. The whole North Quay frontage was then let to the GWR and the Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway Company which linked the coalfields directly with the docks. This resulted in major increases in the export of coal from Swansea.
Today, the development of SA1 aims to reverse this segregation of the Prince of Wales Dock from the rest of the city and to draw more residents and visitors to explore and enjoy the site.
The Riverside Walkway Artworks are a contemporary interpretation of the site's history, making reference to the ships that entered the port, the goods and materials that were exported, and the merchant sailors who stopped there from all parts of the world.
There are three strands to the series of artworks that form a trail along the Riverside Walkway.
A continuous line of ships' names has been grit-blasted in-situ into the granite paving slabs along the entire length of the walkway (approx. 315 metres). By researching ships' names registered in Swansea since 1824, the artists found that the largest group of ships' names were people's first names. 113 names have been grit-blasted along the edge of the walkway, from Margaret to Zeta, and Clementine to Harriet.
Two 'tattoo carpets' have been grit-blasted and painted an inky blue in-situ in the granite paving. Each design is a composition formed from a combination of historical maritime tattoos and those worn by Swansea residents today. The art of the tattoo is a surprising link between the past and present.
Grit-blasting such an intricate design across a large area of paving and across joints was a technical challenge and was achieved through collaboration between the artists and Mike Isaac of G. J Isaac & Son, and CIRIC (Creative Industries Research and Innovation Centre) at Swansea Metropolitan University.
Along the longer length of the walkway (south of the Pumping station) large granite steps lead partway down to the river, followed by an embankment of stone boulders. Twenty boulders were cut to reveal a smooth surface onto which various designs have been grit-blasted. These motifs appear like fossils of an industrial age, referring to the manufacture, export and import of goods from the docks. They include the chemical symbols for carbon, copper and iron, and floral patterns from Swansea's ceramics. Placed randomly amongst the other boulders and at different angles, they will be discovered by passers by and pique their curiosity to learn more.
About the Artists
Perry Roberts is of Welsh descent, presently based in Antwerp and has produced many large scale public art projects. Craig Wood lives near Laugharne, works as Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Swansea Metropolitan University and is a site specific artist working in both gallery and outdoor contexts.