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Thursday 14 April 2011

Paint the water tower? Don't be Daffs...

Lifted with apologies from Wales Online.

The old water tower at Cardiff Central station could become the ultimate canvas for an acclaimed Barry-born artist Dan Llywelyn Hall (twitter @danllywelynhall).

The former Sunday Times Young Artist of the Year has submitted plans to transform the Grade II-listed structure into a colourful mural. He says the epic work – titled The Full Stop – will be a celebration of pivotal moments in Welsh history.

The 30-year-old has been in talks with Arriva Trains Wales, which leases the station from Network Rail, and this week submitted a planning application 10/02208/DCI to Cardiff council.

Mr Hall told the South Wales Echo he was excited by the prospect of the artwork welcoming thousands of rail passengers into the capital each day. “For most my life I have seen the water tower as a prominent structure in our capital,” he said. “Any time I would arrive into Cardiff it almost denotes the start of the city – like a garrison. It stands on the edge of the river and is the first building I notice every time I arrive into Cardiff and usually the last thing I observe when I leave. It struck me that this beautiful listed building needed rejuvenation and could be transformed into a positive confident statement about our capital.”

It is thought the abandoned tower is about 80 years old and was used to replenish the water supplies of steam locomotive engines.

Different moments in history would be painted in the divided panels and the circular turret will amalgamate to form a celebration of the land.

A spokesman for Arriva said: “We have had notice of his intentions to revamp the water tower, but we have seen no designs and he was advised to seek further advice from Cardiff council.”

A council spokeswoman said its Development Control had this week started a consultation on the proposal. If approved, monuments body Cadw, which has the right to call in applications on listed buildings, will then have the final say.

Mr Hall hopes to start painting in the early summer and expects it will take up to two months to complete.

Talks have begun with arts organisations and individual donors about sponsoring the project. Mr Hall, who recently had an exhibition at Cardiff’s National Museum of Wales and painted portraits of World War I veterans Harry Patch and Henry Allingham, said the work would be a gift to Cardiff.

“It’s for the people who come into Cardiff each day. I want it to promote our city and our country,” he said. “There is nothing that is symbolic or celebratory of our city and I hope it will give people a lift when they arrive in Wales.”

When BWTAS visited the tower in 2010, it wasn't exactly attractive or exciting. A previous mural of daffodils, Wales' national flower had weathered and faded.

Comments from the public show the strength of feeling water towers evoke:

"It is ridiculous to have this as a Grade 2 listed building. The thing should have been pulled down. It is an eyesore, whether painted or not."

(These) structures should be preserved for history - history needs to take account of the mundane as well as the extraordinary.

This is a marvelous opportunity to revive a very important structure in the heritage of our country. It will be most welcome to all the communters and passers by. My old man worked on the railway and always maintained the water tower was one of the finest examples in europe. Cardiff has more to it than simply erecting flats at every corner. We need to maintain our heritage and keep our artists in support.

It's about time something was done with the tower its had faded daffs on it for years now, I'm looking forward to seeing this when it done, I think it will look fab.

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