Sculptor Steve Winterburn, who has been commissioned to design and build the Cardiff Codebreakers statue in Cardiff Bay, took time out seek inspiration from the young people of the area on two school visits recently.
Winterburn, who was responsible for the statue of Billy Boston in Wigan and the Rugby league statue at Wembley, explained to pupils from Mountstuart Primary School and St Mary the Virgin Church in Wales School, what was behind the project.
And not only did he explain the process he goes through to complete his projects once engaged, but also invited the children to become a part of the process.
“It was great to be able to explain to the children how we take a concept, design it on paper, take it through the developmental phase and then end up with a massive metal structure,” explained Winterburn.
“I was able to get the children to do some drawing sand then play a part in the selection process on how we arrange the three figures selected to go on the commemorative plinth. Their ideas and comments will now be fed back into the creative process.
“The fact the three rugby league greats, Billy Boston, Gus Risman and Clive Sullivan, were all born in their area made it easier to make a connection with them. Some of the children were actually born in the same street as Billy and Gus and one of them lives next door to Billy’s sister!
“That’s what made the visit to the two schools so special and so important. The statue is not just about telling the story of the three players, it is there to proudly represent the people of the area from where they were from.”
St Mary the Virgin Church in Wales School, in South Clive Street, is a stone’s throw from the site of the old North Clive Street School, where both Billy and Gus were pupils.
“The pupils and their teacher, Chris Darlington, were delighted to hear the stories about the successes of the three players in rugby league and amazed that both Billy and Gus became world class despite coming from a school in Cardiff Bay,” added Winterburn.
“I know the Cardiff Codebreakers committee are keen to let the stories of not only the three players who will be on the statue, but also the others who were involved in the selection process, filter down to all ages in the community so that everyone can be inspired when they see the finished work.”
Cardiff Council Leader, Huw Thomas said: “The statues for Billy, Gus and Clive will be erected in the heart of the Cardiff Bay area. Engaging local school children in the creative process will both inspire them and make the proud of their local community and the way in which these players broke out of their local boundaries, beat racial prejudices and went on to become global sports stars.
“The statue of the three of them will be a great addition to the city and we hope it will inspire others for years to come.”
Sir Stanley Thomas, Chairman of the Fundraising Committee said:”It was great to hear of the interest our sculptor, Steve Winterburn, generated when he went around the schools in Cardiff Bay. The reaction from the children to hearing about these great sporting stars who grew up in their community and went on to become global stars was tremendous.
“They also provided Steve with some good tips on how they would like to see the statue presented. These points have been taken on board and factored into the finished article.
“Community engagement in the project has always been important to us and the school visits were an important aspect of this vital element. It is these youngsters that we hope will be inspired by Steve’s final piece of work.
“What really brought home the value of his visits was when one of the pupils said he lived next door to Billy’s sister in Angelina Street. He certainly had a story to tell when he got home.”
The concept, ‘One Team – One Race, Honouring the Cardiff Bay Rugby Codebreakers’, was launched to raise money to create a statue chosen from 13 sports stars who made a telling contribution playing in Rugby League over the past 120 years.
All 13 nominees grew up within a three-mile radius of Cardiff Bay. Many battled prejudice and racism before leaving Wales to find fame as Rugby League superstars in the North of England.
Following a public vote Billy Boston, Gus Risman and Clive Sullivan have been selected to adorn a statue, which will be erected in the Cardiff Bay area, to commemorate the Cardiff Bay Codebreakers.