My name is Jon Pountney, and I'm the artist commissioned by Cadw to mark the visit of the Man Engine to Blaenavon in April 2018. 'Blaenavon- Stories from an Industrial Town' is the result of my work, but the wealth of material and historical interest generated by the area means that I will continue to create work after my commission has finished.
Blaenavon is a place with a fascinating contradiction at its heart. Its sudden emergence and growth in the 18th and 19th centuries, through an influx of itinerant labour attracted by new industries, is much like many other places the world over. What makes Blaenavon unique in this context is the fact that it retains the fabric of that industry and growth, from the landscape that contained the precious elements needed to support iron production, to the structures and buildings that colonised the previously sparsely populated heathland. From Big Pit to the Iron Works, from Forgeside to the Workmen's Hall, the town is uniquely able to tell an 'everytown' story- the role of Britain as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, the relentless march of process and technology, exploitation and rights for workers, and a smaller more intimate story of lives of families and homes in the eye of an industrial storm.