THE PEOPLE of Gwent made some of the most weird and wonderful artwork across Wales in 2019.

From a giant patron saint made from bark, to a nativity bus stop, and a special phone box to help the bereaved, 2019 offered some heart-warming designs which brought Gwent’s communities together.

We have picked out the best five from the array of quirky designs and asked their creators why they made them.

Nathan Wyburn’s giant bark portrait of a patron saint

South Wales Argus:

Nathan Wyburn with his giant portrait of St David. Picture: Cadw.

Britain’s Got Talent finalist Nathan Wyburn created a giant image of Wales’ patron saint to celebrate St David’s Day.

The Ebbw Vale artist created the masterpiece in just over six hours using garden bark and more than 1,000 daffodils.

The work was 11-metres tall and eight-metres wide, meaning it is the experienced artist’s largest piece to date.

South Wales Argus:

Nathan Wyburn arranges daffodils to create a portrait of St David in the courtyard of St Davids Bishop's Palace in Pembrokeshire. Photo: Press Association.

The portrait also features a daffodil halo, and a depiction of Saint David’s iconic emblem, a white dove.

“Gwent is fast becoming a hub for creative energy,” Mr Wyburn said.

“I think it has always been, but now people seem even more expressive. Wales isn’t just rugby and traditional singing.

"Yes, that is amazing, but we also have punk bands, expressive graffiti and people like me who make art with anything I can get my hands on."

Mr Wyburn, whose other designs have included Simon Cowell on toast and paintings using just his lips, added: “I think art is always a perfect starting point for a conversation. It brings people together and engages reactions and emotions.”


Blackwood Town Ladies cricket club’s plastic bottle poppy waterfall

South Wales Argus:

Emma Chalk and the rest of the team worked every weekend for three months to prepare the design

Blackwood Town Ladies replicated the stunning poppy-waterfall affect which came to prominence in 2018 to commemorate the fallen, but team member Emma Chalk was determined to make the waterfall with an ambitious twist for Remembrance Day in 2019.

Ms Chalk said the club wanted to mimic the display which was on show at the Tower of London, the Senedd and elsewhere across the UK, by using plastic bottles.

The design took the team three months to create, arriving at the ground on most weekends to paint the bottles and put the waterfall together.

They also received considerable help from the community after reaching out on Facebook.

South Wales Argus:

More than 90 people packed out the reception room at the club on Remembrance Day

“I was inundated with messages from people who wanted to help,” Ms Chalk said. “Some made them at home and some came in to help out - people that I didn’t even know.”

The design also included the names of every soldier from Blackwood who died in both wars.

“It really gave the children a fun opportunity to learn more about remembrance, and it created a bit of a stir in the area too,” Ms Chalk said.

“People hadn’t seen anything like it before.”

Prosecco and Purls knitting group’s letterbox decorations

South Wales Argus:

The decorations were seen on all of the letterboxes in Caerleon

Those sending off Christmas cards in December in Caerleon would have been greeted by letterboxes sporting festive headwear.

The decorative crochet and knitting work, which included Christmas trees and Christmas puddings, were created by Barbara Parsons and her army of knitters at Prosecco and Purls.

And it was about more than just spreading festive cheer - it was also to raise money for St David's Hospice.

South Wales Argus:

Prosecco and Purls raised more than £1,000 for the hospice, and Ms Parsons said she was delighted with the reaction to the decorations.

“I was blown away by the reaction to the decorations,” Ms Parsons said. “We were putting them out in the dark so that when people got up the next day they could see them, and we were thrilled that people liked them so much.

“People look out for each other in Caerleon, it’s a small place and people support each other where they can. I had shopkeepers making sure the decorations will still in good order throughout the day, and it all added to the community feel.

“Not long ago a woman popped a note through my door to say it brought a smile to her face every day when she walked past the letterbox outside her house – that’s why we do it.”

The Bryn Stitch Group continues unique tradition by decorating village phone box

South Wales Argus:

Villagers from The Bryn who decorate the phone box. Picture:

Residents of the The Bryn said they were overwhelmed by the reaction to their unique decorative tradition of an Abergavenny phone box this year, and images of the phone box were shared on social media.

The tradition began over 10 years ago when a lady threw a toy chicken into the phone box to shelter it from the rain. Since then, the phone box has rarely been seen undecorated, and has become a pillar of the village community.

The community has become even more involved this Christmas, when passers-by were invited to place stars above the nativity in the phone box to commemorate their loved ones.

South Wales Argus:

Denise Lewis, who contributed to the decorations and lives opposite the phone box, said: “Nobody sat down and said 'lets do something', but I think it’s nice to see that one little act managed to galvanise a whole community – albeit a small one.

“We’re a dead-end community here and we look after each other. The post box is a nice fixture here and it belongs to all of us. We all realise how lucky we are to live in such a nice place and have these quirky traditions that bring joy to our lives.”

Liz Friendship and the Beaufort Hotel’s bus stop nativity

South Wales Argus:

The mystery over the creators of the nativity scene which brought much attention to Raglan was revealed just before Christmas.

The nativity scene which was outside the Beaufort Hotel on Raglan High Street became so popular that it garnered national attention.

Liz Friendship, who made the life-sized figures for the nativity scene, said she wanted to create something that people could enjoy over the festive period.

“I saw a nice nativity scene display in Tregare a couple of years ago, and decided to do one myself,” Ms Friendship said.

South Wales Argus:

“One man complained that he couldn’t see the bus timetable,” she laughed. “So the timetable had to get moved outside the bus stop. I suppose it might not be particularly practical, but I’m pleased it’s brought plenty of Christmas cheer.”

Owner of the Beaufort, Miguel Santiago, said the hotel staff wanted to "put their hearts back into the community" by helping fund Ms Friendship's efforts.