GWENT’s great outdoors plays host to some of the best artwork in Wales. Reporter SOPHIE BROWNSON takes a look at the county's favourites.

Six Bells Guardian, Blaenavon

Located at Six Bells, south of Abertillery, the impressive 20 metre steel sculpture of the Guardian commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1960 mining disaster in Six Bells, which claimed the lives of 45 men.

Completed in 2010, the sculpture was designed and created by artist Sebastien Boyesen, who is based in West Wales.

The Guardian was dedicated as part of a Commemoration Service on the June 28, 2010 led by the then Archbishop of Canterbury Reverend Rowan Williams, and later visited by Prince Charles in November 2011.

The sculpture formed by 20,000 strips of Cor-Ten steel welded together, towers over the site of the former colliery where the tragedy occurred.

It forms a striking tribute to the men whose names are cut into panels wrapped around the memorial.

A stunning monument, the Guardian stands on a sandstone plinth which viewed from a distance the figure of the miner has a transparent, almost ghostly quality, allowing it to blend into the wooded landscape setting.

Only when viewed up close, does the figure appear solid and the viewer can see the detail in the facial features, muscle definition and hair.

Chartist Man, Blackwood

Located on the Chartist Bridge on the Sirhowy Enterprise Way next to Blackwood's landmark Chartist Bridge, the 26ft tall monument shows a protester striding towards Newport.

Made from thousands of steel rings, the sculpture designed by Sebastian Boyesen in 2008, creates a 'mesh' figure - symbolising the Chartist principle of binding together and strength in unity.

The sculpture commissioned by the council cost around £33,000, with funding coming from road contractors Sirhowy Enterprise Way Ltd, Arts and Business Cymru, Capita Symonds and Arup.

The intention if the statue was to provide a lasting reminder for generations to come of the Chartist movement, in 1839, where 22 chartists lost their lives protesting for basic rights and freedom outside the Westgate Hotel in Newport.

Artist Sebastian Boyesen said: “It is a reflection of the ideals of Chartism.

“Their kind of motto is strength and unity- the whole idea of making it out of rings joined together to make a strong mesh was a simple way of conveying that idea.

“We used around 27,000 ‘washers’ the metal rings to make the sculpture and we had one guy who was welding for eight hours a day every day for three months and the whole sculpture took around five months to create.

“There was a lot of welding.”

Steel Wave, Newport

The award winning sculpture, created by Peter Fink in 1991, is a giant metal construction made from 50 tons of sheet steel which has become an integral feature of the Newport landscape.

Standing 40 feet high, the Steel Wave built in recognition of Newport's history of steel manufacturing, which has played an important role in Newport’s development.

Situated on the east bank of the River Usk, the wave reflects the town's foundation on the banks of the river and viewers can look through the sculpture to see the river.

To the right of this view, there is an interpretation plaque located on the wall relating the town's early industrial and commercial growth and the current phase of regeneration of the Wharf area with the landmark Steel Wave sculpture project.

Whirlwind Sculpture, Lower Dock Street, Newport

The 'Whirlwind' metal sculpture, located at the Kingsway end of Lower Dock Street, was created by artist Andy Hazell as part of the work that was undertaken in Lower Dock Street during 2007/2008, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Local Regeneration Fund.

The 3.6 metre sculpture made of polished stainless steel, represents the 'whirlwind of change' that the area has undergone and is undergoing.

Further along Lower Dock Street is a globe-like sculpture named Bush.

Together the sculptures form part of wider environmental improvement, where artist Andy Hazell was appointed to design pieces of public art that commemorate the history of the street.

The two sculptures aim to represent the history of the street by focusing on the families who have lived there and contributed to the growth of Newport to its present city status.

The text incorporated into the designs includes the names of old businesses and people who were located in the street during its prime period.

The Boatman, Chepstow

Sitting on a granite plinth in the centre of town, the bronze sculpture by Andre Wallace has caused much controversy .

The Boatman was designed to reflect the town's industrial heritage but his naked form has caused some criticism.

The statue was commissioned as part of a £2m regeneration project put in place in 2005.

Located in the Town Centre Plaza, Bank Square, the sculpture aimed to increase the number of visitors to the town and been successful in doing so; attracting many sightseers.

Ken Jones Statue, Blaenavon

The statue in the centre of Blaenavon represents a lasting tribute to sporting star Ken Jones created by artist Laury Dizengremel.

Mr Jones, who died in 2006 at the age of 84, was a rugby great who played on the wing for Newport and Wales, and who also won an Olympic silver medal with the Great Britain 4x100m relay team at the 1948 Games in London.

The sculpture of the Wales and Newport rugby player and Olympic athlete was unveiled in front of more than 100 people on March 28, 2013, but was taken down just two hours later due to technical problems in fixing the statue to the plinth.

The statue which was built following fundraising by various groups and a campaign by our sister paper the Free Press, has since being reinstalled in August 2013 after extra support was added to make it more secure.

Charles Rolls Statue, Monmouth

The statue of Monmouth boy-made-good, Charles Henry Rolls, is located outside Shire Hall to commemorate the co-founder of Rolls-Royce.

The eight foot tall bronze statue, created by Sir William Goscombe John, acts as a tribute to Mr Rolls, who was also the first person to make a non-stop double crossing of the English Channel.

The statue was proposed by the Borough Council in June 1910, to celebrate Charles Rolls' two way crossing of the English Channel, but Rolls was killed in an accident at an airfield near Bournemouth on the south coast of England the following month.

The statue and plaques around the plinth commemorate his life achievements including those in motoring ballooning and aviation.

Hallelujah Lamp, Newbridge

The lamp created by artist Stephen Broadbent, is part of a project named Pontypool Patterns.

The seven meter tall lamp commissioned by Torfaen council was inspired by the town's famous Japanware, with both concept coming directly from community discussions based on a local story and an old gas lamp that used to be located outside the Newbridge Hotel.

The Hallelujah Lamp is a recreation of a lamp that was a focal gathering point for the community after church services and many other key events and aims to be the point where people can once again congregate for special community events.

Created using contemporary materials, it also has the feel of a classic Edwardian lamp filling its aim if both connecting with the past and offering a new focus and identity.

The structure is fabricated out of stainless steel and powder-coated with a 'fresh green' colour also representative of the new shoots of growth for the town and at the centre of the top curved section there will is a white LED light.

The upper section of the lamp reflects the curvature of the natural growth of a fern and is symbolic of the growth and advancement of the town and its community.

The base section of the lamp consists of four curved granite blocks, which act as informal seating above a textured granite floormosaic.

The bold floor pattern illustrates a number of visual connotations associated with 'growth'.

Aneurin Bevan Stones, Ebbw Vale

Standing at Bryn Serth, the monument commemorates Aneurin Bevan, the outstanding politician who was born in Tredegar in 1897 and elected M.P. for the area in 1929.

Nye Bevan was the architect for the National Health Service which he established as Minister for Health.

The stones were erected in Nye's memory following his death in 1960, to mark the spot where he held open air meetings to speak to his constituents - the centre stone represents Aneurin Bevan and the others point towards Ebbw Vale, Rhymney and Tredegar.

Westgate Hotel Statues

Positioned at the scene of the bloody end of the Chartist Uprising, The Chartist Sculpture commemorates the rising of 1839.

Created by Christopher Kelly and erected in 1991, the sculptures form three groups, each representing a different aspect of the political and social change the Chartists hoped to bring about.

The first group is 'Union,' showing an idealised view of Newport; the second, 'Prudence', shows the struggle for change, and the third, 'Energy', symbolises both labour and victory.

Risca Cuckoo

Said to represent the history of Risca, the Risca Cuckoo, created by artist Sebastien Boyesen, aims to illustrate the bird’s association with the town.

The £46,000 structure, erected near the Tesco store on the Pontymister Industrial Estate, is based upon the story that a cuckoo is said to have sung there and inspired locals so much that they built a wall to try to keep it with them all year round.

The three-metre-high artwork, which was paid for as part of team, a planning agreement that brought Tesco to the town, also lends its name to the rugby team.

The cuckoo sits on top of the column, and is decorated with leaves and artwork depicting the area’s history, including the presence of the Romans, its industrial past and musical heritage.