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Major exhibition of the work of iconic industrial artist Falcon Hildred to open at the Ironbridge Gorge Museums (11th September 2012)

A team of curators, volunteers and archivists have been working together in Aberystwyth and Ironbridge in preparation for a remarkable new exhibition of the work of artist Falcon Hildred which will open at the Coalbrookdale Gallery, near to Enginuity on 5 October 2012 and will run until 30 April 2013.

With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales working in partnership with the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust have secured a unique collection of over 600 original drawings and watercolours of industrial buildings and landscapes by the Wales-based artist, Falcon Hildred, for future generations to enjoy.  This iconic work will be available for the first time in a new exhibition that will take place in the Coalbrookdale Gallery in the heart of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site.

Falcon Hildred is a highly accomplished artist who has dedicated his working life to recording the buildings and landscapes of nineteenth-and twentieth-century industry, producing works of high aesthetic, historic and social value. He has recorded in detail technological and engineering change and a rapidly disappearing way of life. The drawings record Blaenau Ffestiniog (the artist’s home since 1969 and a place he has recorded extensively), and a number of industrial towns in Wales and England. These include Cardiff, Newport and Swansea, as well as Grimsby, Coventry, London and Birmingham. 

Dr Matt Thompson, Senior Curator Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, commented; “The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust is very proud to be the venue for this stunning new exhibition.   We believe that Ironbridge, internationally known as the Birthplace of Industry, is a fitting setting for this beautiful and evocative work which documents so eloquently the industrial past of both England and Wales”.

Dr Peter Wakelin, Secretary of the Royal Commission said, “Falcon Hildred’s lifetime’s work amounts to a unique record of working-class culture and industrial landscapes. The collection is a superb resource for anyone interested in this heritage, much of which has disappeared since Falcon documented it. This first exhibition and the book accompanying it will make lots more people aware of his work and the fascinating history it stands for.”

Explaining the importance of the HLF funding, Jennifer Stewart, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales said, “Wales is renowned worldwide for its industrial heritage and the acquisition of this collection has meant that this past can be shared in a unique way.  We are really pleased that so many volunteers have been involved in the project and that these very special drawings and watercolours are now going to be seen by so many people”.

The free to enter exhibition will be located in the Coalbrookdale Gallery, adjacent to Enginuity and will be open 10-5 Monday- Friday. Call 01952 433424 or visit www.ironbridge.org.uk for more details.

A new book, Worktown: the Drawings of Falcon Hildred, by Peter Wakelin, will be published to coincide with the exhibition. It includes some 200 superb illustrations. Details are available from the Royal Commission, 01970 621200 or from www.rcahmw.gov.uk.