It was no laughing matter when TV funnyman Rob Brydon came face-to-face with his image as crafted by a Cannock firm. The Gavin and Stacey star said it was an honour to have been immortalised in the life-sized steel sculpture.
Rob was keen to set eyes on the steel art work made by Cannock-based laser cutting subcontractor Laser Process, which has just been unveiled near the comedian’s hometown in South Wales. The steel sculpture of the comic sits alongside figures of acting legend Richard Burton and forest ranger Dick Wagstaff, all heroes to the community in the town of Cwmafan near Port Talbot.
The steel silhouettes have been placed alongside a new cycle and footpath connecting Cwmafan and Port Talbot, running through the Afan Valley.
The TV star said he very much liked being turned in to a statue and got a touch poetic. “This is a great honour and I look forward to offering weary cyclists the chance to catch their breath,” he said.
“I love the thought of becoming part of the landscape alongside Dick Wagstaff and the great Richard Burton. “I'm hoping that my sculpture might be able to persuade Burton's sculpture to quote some poetry of an evening, or at least a bit of War Of The Worlds."
The artwork is part of a national project called the Portrait Bench - from sustainable transport charity Sustrans who are one of the largest commissioners of public art in the UK. Laser Process will be involved in making more than 200 of the figures of celebrities and local heroes as part of the project, which will be displayed at more than 70 sites alongside new cycling and walking routes from the Highlands to the south of England.
Managing director of Laser Process, Dave Lindsey, said: “It’s great that Laser Process craftsmanship has raised a smile with Rob Brydon, we’re just pleased he’s happy being turned into steel.” The life-size figures are all chosen by local people to represent their community, culture and history.
The figures are cut from corten steel, like the famous Angel of the North, so that they will rust and weather to become a natural part of the landscape. The Portrait Bench near Port Talbot was unveiled earlier this month by Richard Burton’s brother, Graham Jenkins, along with several members of the actor’s family.
The Portrait Benches are part of the Sustrans Connect2 project which is funded using a £50m grant from the Big Lottery Fund. The charity won a public vote in 2007 to create new walking and cycling routes across the UK to help people make more short local journeys on foot or by bike. Further information about Sustrans is available through www.sustrans.org.uk