Art Collections Online
Six Bells, Abertillery, South Wales
LOWRY, Laurence Stephen (1887 - 1976)
Media: oil on canvas
Size: 132.0 x 169.0 cm
Acquired: 2001; Loan; Andrew Brownsword Arts Foundation
Accession Number: NMW A(L) 1186
This view of Six Bells Colliery, Abertillery in the Ebbw Fach Valley is one of Lowry's largest works. Wales provided Lowry with subject matter at two points in his career: during the 1920s, when he spent some time in Rhyl on the North Wales coast, and in the early 1960s when his friend and patron, the Stockport businessman Monty Bloom encouraged him to paint the South Wales valleys. Bloom had been brought up in the Rhondda, and these visits reawakened Lowry's interest in the industrial scene. The unusual combination of the rugged landscape of the Valleys and the densely-packed towns inspired a group of paintings which, though small, are some of the most inspirational of the artist's later works. These include a similar panoramic view of Ebbw Vale, 1960, in the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, and a contemporary view of a hillside near Abertillery, now in the Tate collection. Situated twelve miles north of Newport, Six Bells Colliery was the scene of the worst post-war mining disaster in Wales when, on 28 June 1960, there was an explosion at the colliery and 45 people died. It first operated in 1898 and closed in 1988, the last pit in Abertillery.