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Monday, 9 August 2010

Commission’s Image Inspires National Eisteddfod Art

The Smalls lighthouse,
DI2008_0797     NPRN
One of the most prominent artworks in the Lle Celf, the art exhibition at this year’s National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale, was inspired by the work of the Royal Commission. Sculptor David Hastie from Swansea was prompted to build his 8-metre high timber installation ‘Model of an Abandoned Lighthouse’ after seeing a reconstruction drawing of the Smalls lighthouse by the late Douglas Hague, who was an investigator with the Royal Commission from 1948 to 1981. Hague surveyed the remains of the structure on the Smalls in the 1970s and researched early accounts of the building. His illustration, showing how the spindly structure may have looked, has been published in two of the Commission’s books – Hague’s Lighthouses of Wales – their Architecture and Archaeology (1994) and Hidden Histories: Discovering the Heritage of Wales (2008).

The Smalls lighthouse, off the western tip of Pembrokeshire, was the first in Britain to be built on piles, and represented a pioneering use of cast iron. Completed in 1776, it was designed by a musical instrument maker, John Phillips. The timber and cast-iron piles allowed the sea to pass beneath the light and it survived the harsh conditions for nearly a century, being replaced by a stone tower only in 1861.
Model of an Abandoned Lighthouse by
David Hastie
David Hastie has even followed up his interest in the lighthouse by going out to the site and finding a remaining piece of one of the piles. He has asked the Royal Commission for information about other structures that may inspire future works.

Photograph courtesy of David Hastie

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