Artist unveils unique exhibition inspired by story of historic North Wales steelworks

A PERFORMANCE art installation inspired by the story of a historic steelworks will be exhibited at a leading college following a successful launch event.

Theatre artist Kate Roberts, from Connah’s Quay, created the interactive display as part of a master’s degree she completed at Aberystwyth University during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unable to showcase the performance in lockdown – and keen to bring it “home” to Flintshire – Kate contacted Tata Steel and Coleg Cambria, which invited her to exhibit Steel. Site. Speaks. at its Deeside 6th form building.

The piece was enjoyed by students and lecturers yesterday (Wed) before a later event where members of the public, councillors, and community leaders were able to witness it first-hand.

With more than 30 years’ experience of teaching Drama, Theatre and English – including spells in Dubai and Italy – the mum-of-one was thrilled with the response.

“When it came to putting together my final assessment for the university, I reflected on my own background and that of my family, many of whom worked at the Shotton steelworks,” she said.

“Four generations of stories had been passed on to me, and I was also interested in the materials, the history and the huge impact the site has had on this area for more than a century.”

Kate added: “Of course there have been challenges along the way, but this is a celebration of the people, of its standing in north east Wales, and the world over.

“If the site could speak, what would it say? I wanted to express that, and the same for other landmarks such as the bridge crossed by thousands of workers every day, bells ringing, carrying their ‘snappin bags’ and ready to put in a shift – it brought back so many memories.”

With the support of current and former steelworks employees, many of whom donated clothes and other items which were captured on camera for the installation, she put together a spectacle of light and metal.

“There is an innovative, contemporary feel to it, with a light box, photos, videos and a hundred metallic strips forming words, accompanied by voice notes I recorded from stories I had been told and music composed by a local school pupil,” said Kate.

“It is a multi-sensory event, a fusion of industry, education and art, and I am so proud and thankful to have been able to produce it for the people of Deeside – I hope they embrace and enjoy it.”

Tata Steel’s Site Manager Bill Duckworth added: “We’re delighted to support this local exhibition. They say that art imitates life, and the steelworks has a proud heritage here and continues to play a huge role in building a green UK economy as well supporting the local Deeside community.

“Sharing our history and our future plans through art is an engaging creative approach that will thrill our employees and all those associated with our industry.”

Miriam Riddell, Head of Deeside 6th, echoed those comments, and said: “We are honoured to exhibit Kate’s incredible work. As an institution at the heart of the community, this is a chance for us to pay tribute to a company which continues to have a significant impact on industry in north east Wales, while giving our learners and the public the opportunity to find out more about its rich history and heritage.”

The installation will be available for public viewing on Wednesday afternoons from 1pm-5pm, beginning February 15 and ending April 26, excluding the Easter break (March 31-April 17). Bookings in advance via email or call 01978 267485.

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