Fancy a walk that takes in work by renowned graffiti artists Banksy and Ame72 and other hot street art talents including Rarebit, Bims, Mongo Gushi, Hazard One, Mike22, Amelia Unity and SoK? Then head to Port Talbot, where its newly launched ARTwalk offers all this and more.
If you want to experience the walk in all its glory all you need to do is download the app (it’s on App Store and Google Play) and then follow the directions. The free app provides photos, videos and information about the artists as well as GPS tracking to take you from artwork to artwork around the town.
The walk starts at the Banksy in the transport hub, then heads over to Taibach taking in over a dozen artworks, before returning to the town centre. It takes about two hours to do the entire walk at a leisurely pace.
The walk has been created by Cardiff-based theatre director Paul Jenkins with funding from Heritage Lottery Wales, support from local artists and the help of a passionate consultancy group of Port Talbot residents. The project also has the backing of the local business district, Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock and local councillors.
Paul Jenkins came up with the idea when he was working on a theatre project about the Banksy painting, telling the story of the “Season’s Greetings” mural based on interviews with locals. Its development, in collaboration with Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, was stalled when the pandemic struck.
“I was aware there was a great opportunity create something special in the town by joining the dots between the Banksy and fantastic local street artists like Rarebit and Bims,” says Paul.
“Since there was no way of making the Banksy play, or creating an indoor gallery during lockdown, the solution was a Covid safe outdoor art trail. Our theatre company, Theatr3, applied for Heritage Lottery funding and that made it possible to commission more artists to come to Port Talbot and to design an app to encourage locals and visitors to do the street art trail.”
Some of the art was already up in the town: the Banksy, two Legomen by Ame72 and lots of pieces by Rarebit and Bims. To add to these, Paul and his team advertised nationally for artists, and with the help of a panel of local artists and volunteers they chose eight new artworks to join the others in the town. The design of the logo and marketing materials are by local artists Rarebit and Mongo Gushi.
The ARTwalk launched on Thursday June 24 at Port Talbot Market and will be popping up at every market over the summer to help people download the app and set them off on the trail.
“We’ve had massive support from everyone we’ve approached about the project,” says Paul. “Tata Steel, NPT council and local MP Stephen Kinnock have all got behind the project and current owner of the Banksy, art dealer John Brandler, has given his blessing to include Season’s Greetings on the tour.
“We hope that the ARTwalk will appeal to locals and tourists and shine a light on the World-class street art flourishing in Port Talbot. We especially hope it will give families something to do over the long summer holidays that’s fun, free and inspiring.”
The project currently has funding to make the app available for the next 12 months but the team behind it would love to see ARTwalk become a permanent feature, helping to put Port Talbot on the map as a cultural hotspot.
“The goal of ARTwalk is to join the dots and make the most of the potential in Port Talbot,” says Paul. “I believe it can be a world-class destination for people to come and see street art and graffiti, but also to create it. Anything that encourages diversity in the economy, as with the arrival of the Banksy, shows the potential of what can happen here in Port Talbot.”
The app is available free on the App Store and Google Play – simply search for “ARTwalk Port Talbot”.