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Guardian overlooking Parc Arael Griffin

The Guardian is a 20 m (66 ft) tall statue overlooking Parc Arael Griffin, the landscaped former Six Bells Colliery site, in the South Wales mining town of Abertillery, Blaenau Gwent. It was designed and created by artist Sebastien Boyesen.


On 28 June 1960, an underground explosion at the then Six Bells Colliery killed 45 miners. Caused by an ignition of firedamp, coal-dust in the air ignited and the explosion spread almost throughout a district of the mine, killing 45 out of the 48 men who worked there. The sculpture commemorates those events and is dedicated to all mining communities wherever they may be.

Construction and Moiré effectEdit

The Moiré effect shown on hand

Costing in excess of £200,000, Guardian is made from over 20,000 horizontal strips of a special weathering steel.[1] Each strip is separated from but connected to the next such that from a distance Guardian appears almost transparent. Close up and from the right angle the gaps between the strips disappear to give the appearance of a solid sculpture with full definition of all of its features.[2] This style of construction creates a Moiré effect where the steel sections appear to move or shimmer in the light. The 10 mm (0.4 in) thick COR-TEN weathering steel allows a protective rust patina to form on its surface. The statue itself is 12.6 m (41 ft) tall, weighs around eight tonnes and stands on a sandstone plinth 7.4 m (24 ft) tall.[3] It has been compared to Sir Antony Gormley's Angel of the North.[4]


Exactly fifty years after the explosion, the statue was unveiled at a commemorative service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Around four hundred relatives were among 7,500 people from across the world attending the service.[5] The names, ages and home town of each of the 45 victims appear on steel plates surrounding the plinth. In November 2011, Prince Charles visited the statue and the connected visitor centre located 100 m (110 yd) away.[6]


  1. ^ "Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council - Guardian of the Valleys".
  2. ^ Artist's Book on construction etc - "Guardian: Sebastien Boyesen - Six Bells Mining Memorial" ISBN 9780953482016
  3. ^ "BBC - Six Bells mining disaster statue is completed".
  4. ^ walesonline Administrator (27 June 2010). "Pit deaths statue unveiled". walesonline.
  5. ^ Steven Morris. "Memorial marks Six Bells colliery disaster". The Guardian.
  6. ^ "Prince Charles visits Six Bells mine tragedy memorial". walesonline. 21 November 2011.

Coordinates: 51°43′05″N 3°08′00″W / 51.718143°N 3.133275°W / 51.718143; -3.133275