New artwork unveiled in Newtown to celebrate Robert Owen

A NEW sculpture celebrating the life of Robert Owen was unveiled in Newtown earlier today (May 14) on what would have been Mr Owen’s 251st birthday.

Mr. Owen, a Welsh textile manufacturer, philanthropist and social reformer, was born in Newtown on May 14, 1771.

The public artwork was commissioned as part of a project to mark the 250th anniversary. The official unveiling of the sculpture – designed to depict a roll of textile material with strands flowing behind it – was due to take place on the 250th anniversary of Mr Owen’s death a year ago, but Covid restrictions saw it postponed .

Instead, it was unveiled at Trehafren Fields by Deputy Arts and Sports Minister Dawn Bowden and Powys’ new High Sheriff Tom Jones.

The sculpture was made by artist Howard Bowcott and was created to reflect all aspects of Mr. Owen’s story, both as an innovator and socialist, but also as a man who used to the origin of cotton from plantations exploited by slaves in America for its materials.

Mr Bowcott said he hoped the sculpture would serve as a platform for discussion and a place for socializing.

Writers Sadia Pineda Hameed and Dylan Huw have been commissioned to work with the community and compose words in response to Mr Owen’s story through the lens of the 21st century – words written by the couple appear etched in black on the sides of the sculpture to contrast the marble white it

The unveiling of the new artwork is part of a festival celebrating Mr Owen’s legacy, alongside Laura Ashley, Pryce Jones and David Davies in Newtown this weekend.

The Powys Pioneer Heritage Festival is held in the iconic Royal Welsh Warehouse, also known as the Pryce Jones Building, from 2pm on May 14.

As well as coinciding with the birth of Mr Owen, it is also the 60th anniversary of Laura and Bernard Ashley’s move from their business to Carno.

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