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Aberfan painting on exhibit in School

12 December 2016

"An Unspent Youth" painting by Ron Jones

A painting by Ron Jones inspired by the mining village of Aberfan during the 1930s is being exhibited in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

The painting entitled “An Unspent Youth” is a large, multi-panelled work by the artist Ron Jones (1926-2015) who was born in Aberfan, South Wales as the son of a coal miner and spent most of his childhood and adolescence there.

Before coming to the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, the painting was exhibited for the first time in the Gate Arts Centre in Roath along with other paintings depicting incidents from Ron’s childhood in the village during the 1930s. Many of these paintings were completed during the last decade of his life, where he concentrated on a more figurative response to his childhood memories.

October 21st 2016 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Aberfan disaster where 116 primary school children and 28 adults perished in tragic circumstances.

Nick Jones, Ron’s son, recalls the day of the disaster: “I came home from school on October 21st 1966 ad my family was in a state of shock. I was seven years old at that time, the same age as many of the children who had lost their lives. We had visited and continued to visit Aberfan regularly. My father sketched and photographed the hillsides and the slag heaps; they were the inspiration for much of his work. A local newspaper got wind of the fact that my father had made these studies and within days they were being used on national news bulletins.”

As a School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, we look closely at themes relating to mining, land contamination, and landslides both in our teaching and research, and how the professionals we develop and the research we produce can mitigate detrimental impacts of industry on our environment. Professor Robert Parker, whose research looks at landslide processes, landscape evolution, catastrophe modelling and post-disaster assessment, recently spoke to Jeff Edwards, a survivor of the Aberfan disaster as part of the University's Challenge Cardiff research magazine.

“An Unspent Youth” is on long-term loan to Cardiff University as a lasting home for the painting in South Wales where it can be a tribute to the people of Aberfan in the 1930s.

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