We'll keep a welcome in the hillsides...

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  • This weeks post from the homeland is on a stunning art installation in Cardiff, the capital of Wales.

    Wales is a land of contrast. The draw of its great natural beauty, the rugged coastline, and magical mountains, moorlands and valleys, contrast with the scars left by the coal mines of the 1900’s. A nation, whose wealth was built exporting coal from the South Wales Valleys to the rest of the world, helped to power the industrial age. In his time, the Third Marquis of Bute, who owned Cardiff Bay docks, was the richest man in the world.

    The regeneration of Cardiff Bay is now widely regarded as one of the most successful urban regeneration projects ever undertaken in the UK.  The area has undergone a massive transformation over the past 20 years, now hosting world class buildings like The Senedd (see my previous post) and Wales Millennium Centre, home to the Welsh National Opera.

    Central to this redevelopment was the Cardiff Bay barrage. The bay had been part of the Bristol Channel which has the second largest tidal range in the world. As a result, for half of the day, the bay was empty of water, leaving large unappealing mudflats exposed. The barrage created a large freshwater lake in their place.

    Whilst the outcome of the development has been mostly positive, there was strong opposition from environmental groups at the time, because the bay was an important feeding ground for birds. So it is with some sense of purpose that this latest art installation takes pride of place along the riverside.

    Artist Gitta Gschwendtner has created the site specific ecological art installation, a wall, by  incorporating 1,000 nest boxes for birds and bats. The 50 metre long wall separates a residential development of 1,000 new apartments from the adjacent riverside path. It includes four types of boxes to accommodate different species of birds and bats.

    There is something quite beautiful in the contrast of the deeply industrial aesthetic  of the artwork, and its deeply ecological purpose. A sadness and a joy all mixed into one, that so completely sums up the contradiction that is Wales.

    It’s good to be home.

    Wishing you all the best for a Happy New Year. See you back on the blog in 2012! Mama Bird x

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    References: http://www.dezeen.com/2009/08/28/animal-wall-by-gitta-gschwendtner/