Follow the Barry Art trail, created by Barry Making Waves....
Barry is a creative place and that creativity often spills out onto the streets. From yarn bombing to giant sculptures there is a lot of art around the town in Barry, if you know where to look.
Art has been commissioned through art and regeneration funding, as well as developer contributions. But one thing all the art project shave in common is that they are about the place and celebrate Barry’s story. Artists are inspired by its history of transformation into the busiest coal export port in the world and by Barry Island’s reputation as the place for a holiday in South Wales through much of the 20th century.
There are a cluster of artworks on Barry Island. If arriving from the causeway you will see silhouetted against the sky a sculpture that announces your arrival at a beach resort. ‘Beside the Seaside…Beside the Sea ’by John Clinch (1934-2001) is art with a sense of humour by a well-known and much loved sculptor. On the Promenade, both the Western and Eastern shelters are lit from dusk with a colour-changing and interactive lighting scheme. Why not take an evening stroll along the Promenade to appreciate these listed structures? If you’re feeling active, have a go on the colourful traversing wall made up of fun novelty shapes on a seaside theme. This is so big you can even see it from the plane on your way to or from Cardiff Airport!
There are so many art projects in the town centre that you can follow a trail. Start by walking through the tunnel that connects Broad Street and Hood Road, and enjoy the experience of walking beneath colourful lines of light. The colours and patterns change, at one time appearing like water flowing towards the Waterfront. At other times the lights travel in different directions, pink and orange towards the shops on High Street, and blue and purple towards the Waterfront. Turn left down Hood Road and the West Quay Medical Centre will be up on your left (you can climb the steep bank or follow the winding path). In front of the building there is an artwork in the floor that incorporates the Centre’s motto. Next door the BSC (Business Service Centre) has original paintings in the reception area.
Follow Hood Road down to Ffordd y Mileniwm and turn left at the Premier Inn. As you walk across the paved open space have a go at solving the floor puzzle with the missing squares. Then keep walking, past the poetry stones and Brewer’s Fayre. Cross the road and take the path alongside the dock. Continue walking until you reach the Merchant Navy Memorial in the form of an anchor, located on the end of a coal jetty. From here turn left up Y Rhodfa to the roundabout on Ffordd y Mileniwm where you can’t miss the tall metal stylised trees that are both industrial and decorative. Turn right here along Ffordd y Mileniwm and at the next roundabout turn left and follow the road to the pedestrian footbridge which crosses the railway line. You will pass by the ‘dominoes’ displayed on the side of the bridge. No, nothing to do with pizza, but a brilliant multi-cultural youth club called the Domino Club that ran between 1947 and 1951.
After crossing the bridge, cross the road to Thompson Street and on the wall to the left are artworks inspired by postcards of Barry and early cinema. At the turn of the 20th century there were several venues in Barry where the earliest forms of cinema could be experienced. In particular, Leon Vint’s ‘Electric Palace’ on Thompson Street.
Follow the quirky red and black cog bollards along Thompson Street to reach Holton Road. Turn right and along the pavement you’ll find drawings of produce spilling out of shopping bags, from toys to fruit and veg, celebrating the road’s history as a shopping destination. Also, at several locations along Holton Road you’ll see cycle stands shaped as fish, a wave, ice cream and other shapes created by an artist blacksmith to reference Barry’s quayside and seaside.
Continuing up Holton Road you will reach King Square and the Town Hall which houses the library and Art Central Gallery. In the library there is a portrait bust of Gwynfor Evans, the first Plaid Cymru MP, and the Gallery has a varied programme of exhibitions and events.
Turn around and head back down Holton Road until you reach the Civic Offices on your left, which in its front courtyard has a memorial to the Merchant Seamen. Adjacent to that is a floor-based work of poetry by Gillian Clarke cast in bronze set within a stone circle. Continuing to the end of Holton Road and onto the large roundabout, you’ll see the towering architectural glass façade of Golau Caredig.
Cross Gladstone Road Bridge to experience the colourful abstract mural on both parapets, the shapes based on local landmarks such as Porthkerry Viaduct and the Shelters on Barry Island.
Many of these projects involved local schools and groups, helping the artists research ideas and stories and even creating the artwork itself. For instance, the pavement drawings on Holton Road were drawn by pupils of Holton Rd Primary and St Helen’s RC Junior Schools.
There’s more to discover at www.barry.cymru