Having recently explored the new heritage dimensions within Flint Castle, I want to reflect on the creation of a series wooden figures – three in number that I saw – around Flint Castle. Following the debacle of the failed plan for an iron ring sculpture, it seems that a cheaper and more reflective tack was adopted to contextualise the ruins of the castle in relation to the subsequent history of Flint as a Welsh county town and its coastal long-distance footpath.
The sculptures are each linked to a new bench on the coastal path, and each looks out over the Dee estuary, out and beyond Flint. In so doing, the figures frame Flint Castle in relation to its many historical connections at home and abroad, specifically linking the town and the sea in Flint’s recent past.
First there is an RNLI lifeboat man looking out to sea with binoculars from close to the lifeboat station, explicitly evoking the importance of the sea for Flint’s inhabitant’s livelihood.
Second, there is a fishwife gutting the catch, with a basket of fish at her feet. A traditional story of daily life is therefore told.
Finally, we have an officer of the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He has been memorialised with a small ‘Lest We Forget, 1914-18 plaque. Faceless, he doesn’t stare out at the landscape alone, but also down at a textless (metal) page he holds in his hands. Perhaps he is trying to read a letter from home? Or a letter from the Front telling of the death of a comrade or brother? Either way, he provides a personal connection between global conflict and the locality, commemorating all of those that served and those that were wounded and died in the First World War, as well as the wider impact of the war on the community.
The faceless nature of each figure is eerie, rendering them figures uncanny, ghostly, apparitions of former times, and former practices. As sentinels they look out at the present-day landscape without eyes, serving as triggers for complex social memories for the town and its environs.