southwalesargus Michael Sheen today issued a rallying call to campaigners to create a “new symbol” to replace the iconic Chartist Mural destroyed last month.
The Frost/Nixon actor called for action, not debate or “political machinations”, to create a new monument to remember the 22 working-class reformers killed in the 1839 uprising in Newport.
The Newport- born star spoke at a Chartist convention in the city after the 35-metre mural was suddenly destroyed by council contractors on October 3 - just two days before a protest organised to stop its demolition.
Mr Sheen, 44, said: “If a depiction of something is lost, let it allow us to focus on renewing the vision it was inspired by.
“And as well as committing to creating a new symbol, a new remembrance, let us commit to acting about what that original vision reveals about who we are today and what it is we need to address.
“It is actions that must be the most important aim of the process, not debate for debate’s sake of self-advancement and self-protection, not political machinations but real change where it is needed in helping those who are most vulnerable wherever that may be and whenever that is.
“Let us remember the Chartists. Let us celebrate what they struggled for, what they died for and what they achieved, but most importantly let us live as though they are all living again through us.”
Mr Sheen was a keynote speaker at the convention, called South Wales Rising of the Chartists 1839 – 175th Anniversary, held at the University of South Wales campus in Usk Way.
Newport Council leader, Labour Cllr Bob Bright, has offered Mr Sheen the chance to chair a commission to assess the findings of a consultation on the proposed replacement of the Chartist Mural off John Frost Square, but the actor has not yet made a decision.
Mohamad Miah, 27, of the Save Our Chartist Mural campaign, said today: “I think Michael Sheen’s involvement is going to be a key part to bring the Chartist topic to new people.
“It is very important for Newport and I think he will bring that new light to encourage young people to get involved.
“I think he is someone who understands the wider political nature of the issue. Something has gone wrong but his approach has been to look forward and remember the past.”
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