Out on the trail of Ruthin’s little red men


Alex Watt

LITTLE red men have invaded Ruthin town centre.

The 10-inch tall visitors can be seen hiding on the rooftops and façades of buildings in the historic market town as part of the new Ruthin Art Trail that was officially launched on Monday.

The figures are just one aspect of the Ruthin Art Trail designed by artist Lucy Strachan and her husband, Fred Baier, who won the contract to design the trail and came up with the concept in conjunction with local historian Roger Edwards.

Lucy said: “The trail was devised to be about looking at and discovering the town because Ruthin is so lovely and has so many treasures in it.

“The 22 small metal figures have been devised so that you really have to look for them and they’re up where the roofs join the buildings because that’s where much of the more decorative architecture is.

“We wanted something that all ages could enjoy and so it’s a bit like 'Where’s Wally' but it has a quiet impact on the town where a lot of public art is more in your face.”

Red dots on the pavements mark the route of the trail and “The Ruthin Figures” can be spotted on the council building, churches, local businesses and even the Clock Tower on St Peter's Square.

Other attractions along the trail include purpose designed spy hole boxes set into the stonewalls of the town, which house a variety of tableaux of myths and memories of Ruthin as interpreted by artists.

The series of 10 spy holes gives people a fascinating look into Ruthin’s historic past.

They include depictions of its old livestock market and a tribute to those commemorated at the town’s cenotaph to its bloodier history and legends.

The idea for the Trail came from Michael Nixon of MN Arts Associates.
Michael said: “Hopefully it will encourage people to look and through looking discover the beauty and mysteries of the town.

“The intention of the Art Trail is that visitors will be rewarded by chance sightings of the acrobatic figures and appreciate the allusions to myths memories and historic moments captured in the spy hole tableaux.”

The trail has been enhanced by restoring the avenue of trees in Market Street, along with their distinctive tree guards, and building a new shelter in Market Street and six benches along the route.

An audio guide has been developed for the trail which starts at Ruthin Craft Centre, on the site of the old railway station, and leads up Market Street, across St Peter's Square, and around the town.

The £250,000 trail is a partnership between Cadwyn Clwyd, Denbighshire County Council, Ruthin Town Council, with support from Bro Rhuthun and funded by Arts Council of Wales Lottery and Cadwyn Clwyd.

Helen Roberts, Cadwyn Clwyd Community Development Officer, said: “We have been pleased to help set up this fabulous Art Trail which will be a real amenity, uniting the town and the centre.

“It’s been so brilliantly well done and offers a fascinating series of snapshots of Ruthin’s history and folklore and gives you an ideal reason for wandering around what is one of Wales’ loveliest towns.”

For more on the Ruthin Art Trail visit www.ruthinarttrail.co.uk.

See full story in the Free Press

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