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‘PICASSO OF THE GARW VALLEY’ LAUNCHES ‘MADE WITH COAL’ BOOK

Ex-miner Gordon Farmer, who has been dubbed “the Picasso of the Garw Valley” by Welsh entertainer Max Boyce, launched his new book ‘Made with Coal’ at Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall last week. The book launch was attended by Gordon’s family and friends from Blaengarw, Huw Irranca-Davies MS, and representatives from the Garw Valley Community Council, Awen Cultural Trust and Bridgend County Borough Council.

Although severely disabled, Gordon has created an impressive collection of pencil portraits of some of Wales’ most famous people including sports stars, actors, musicians and politicians, as well as local people and members of Pontycymmer Men’s Shed.

A selection of this artwork has been published in ‘Made with Coal’ as part of the Voices from Underground project run by registered charity Awen Cultural Trust in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council over the past two years.

The project, which will feature four books in total, aims to share some of the inspirational life stories of the people involved with the South Wales coal mining industry, and the personal challenges they faced and have overcome with resilience and determination.

‘Made with Coal’ was collated by writer and photographer Phil Cope, who set up and led Valley and Vale community arts organisation for 16 years (now known as Tanio) and was involved in the renovation of Blaengarw Workmen’s Hall in the mid-1980s.

83-year-old Gordon, who turned to pencil portraiture later in life to help his mind off the pain caused by his injuries from an industrial accident in 2000, was able to present a copy of his book to Max Boyce at his show at the Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl in March.

Gordon said: “Max asked me how I feel, now that the book has finally been printed and out there. I responded to Max that I am over the moon and I am really, really chuffed with it.”

Richard Hughes, Chief Executive of Awen Cultural Trust, said:

“Andre van Wyk, our Creative and Wellbeing Developer at Awen has known Gordon Farmer for many years through his community engagement work. Gordon’s work features many local characters and we felt that supporting the Voices from Underground – Made with Coal project was the perfect platform to ensure that Gordon’s work, as well as his mining heritage was recognised and celebrated.”