Updated: Feb 7, 2021
Towards the start of the new Millennium , Graham Robertson from Penarth Civic Society thought we should be providing a work of art for the town. The obvious choice would be a piece of sculpture. But where would it be sited? A park would be the ideal place - but which park ?
Graham then consulted a friend from Artworks Wales who had been responsible for the Margam Sculpture Park and they explored different locations. Penarth prides itself on its parks but one in particular looked very run-down and obviously needed a boost. With its popular bowling club the park had once been the centre of the community, but now it was just looking neglected. This was Belle Vue Park in the north of the town.
Having chosen the site, the next step was to find a sculptor. The project was advertised and from six replies, four reached the short list. After much deliberation, David Mackie was chosen and invited to submit different designs which would be put out for public discussion, with photographs in the local paper. The most eye-catching was a short colonnade which would provide height but one reader thought it would be too dangerous as youngsters would want to climb up the pillars.
Another design involved a series of terracotta seats in leaf form based on the trees in the park, incorporating their own “bugs and beasties” and this was a popular choice.
It was decided that David would be working closely with Albert Primary School, just across the road and the children would actually be making the terracotta insects to sit on the leaves.
Just one problem. The site selected for the sculpture made it necessary to remove a rose bush that had been lovingly planted as a family memorial. After much consultation the matter was resolved and work was under way, with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Visitors today will notice children hopping from one leaf to another or sitting with their friends while mothers sit nearby enjoying the sun. Even the park has had an upgrade -railings have been painted and a children’s play area installed. Music concerts and special events are held on a regular basis and gates are again being locked at night as the Belle Vue community has once again taken control of its prime asset.