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Celebrities immortalised in steel art by Midlands engineering firm

11 May 2010

Richard Burton and Rob Brydon are to be immortalised in the first of more the 70 steel art works, by a Midlands engineering firm, which will go on display across the UK.

Sub contract laser cutter, Laser Process, based in Cannock, has just completed the first of a series of the distinctive life-size sculptures which will be placed alongside new pedestrian and cycle routes around the country.

The first steel sculpture, featuring the two Welsh legends, is set to be unveiled alongside a new foot and cycle path in the Afan Valley, between Port Talbot and Cwmafon, in South Wales, on Saturday 1 May.

It is the first of more than 70 figures the Cannock engineering firm will be making, in an order worth more than £150,000, to mark a series of new routes throughout the UK.

The art work initiative is run by the UK’s leading sustainable transport charity Sustrans, which encourages healthy and green forms of transport. The charity is placing the art works on the newly created routes for pedestrians and cyclists around the UK, which are funded from the Big Lottery Fund.     

Dave Lindsey, managing director of Laser Process, said: “It’s great to be involved in this project to make these very modern and eye catching pieces of art in steel which people will instantly be able to recognise as some of their favourite celebrities and personalities.

“It’ll mean the craftsmanship of Laser Process will be on display in every corner of England, Scotland and Wales, to millions of people for generations to come. It’ll be a lasting mark of Laser Process across the whole country.”

Each of the art works will have a look of the Angel of the North sculpture in Gateshead, as they are made from the same corten steel which weathers to a rusty brown.

The sculptures, called Portrait Benches, will all feature three figures standing at a wooden bench. The art works look like a black and white photograph in steel, featuring silhouettes of the figures, with the shiny steel contrasting with dark black giving the impression of a photograph.

Local people have chosen the figures featured in each work which include local heroes. The Afan Valley sculpture will include a figure of Afan Forest Park ranger Dick Wagstaff.

Laser Process, which celebrates 20 years in business in 2010, will soon be setting to work on the next Portrait Bench for a route in Cardiff which will feature Paralympian Tanni Grey Thompson and Olympic cycling gold medallist Nichole Cooke.

Katy Hallett, director of art programmes at Sustrans, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Laser Process to produce the Portrait Benches which we hope will be enjoyed by thousands and thousands of people along these routes for many years to come.

“Hopefully these eye catching art works will encourage more people to take up sustainable transport. It’s steel helping people to become green through art,” she said.

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