Dowlais Library Doorway


Giclee printed on 305gsm off white coloured archival paper with a subtle texture. A4 297mm x 210mm, A5 148 x 210mm.

SKU: DLD Category:


I spent many happy hours in this avuncular Carnegie library reading classic sci-fi against the ornate cast iron radiators. I loved the frothy exuberance of the bearded pagan faces above the external doorways, the sensuously curving gables and the soaring interior illuminated by unfeasibly large windows. Built in 1903 -7 on sloping land donated by the Dowlais Guest Keen Ironworks, It was designed by E. A. Johnson of Abergavenny, who was responsible for many of the extant and fine buildings in the area. These include the adjacent St Johns Church, the Old Town Hall, and the Unitarian Chapel. As a design it seems to be inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement featuring an asymmetrical composition, natural materials and rich craftsmanship evident in the rich red Alveley sandstone dressings and carved details contrasting with the pennant stone.

Rather ironic considering that the Arts and Crafts movement was inspired by the writings of the art critic John Ruskin, who in his book The Stones of Venice, critiqued 19th- Century society, specifically the monotony of factory production and the deskilling of the individual worker, which destroyed any natural creativity. Further, he believed that the solution lay in the medieval past and medieval architecture with its rich variety of ornament, embodying those individual craft skills being lost through the copying of standard forms.

Mercifully it is still operating as a library today where one can peruse many of the mass produced books…