'A beacon of democracy for the world': Goldie Lookin Chain rapper says Newport should not fear losing its Chartist mural

Council says £600,000 cost of moving artwork not financially viable as it faces destruction to make way for £100m shopping centre

A leading member of the Welsh comedy rap collective Goldie Lookin Chain, who doubles up as a Newport councillor, has said the city may lose its famous Chartist mural but never its status as “a beacon of democracy for the world”.

Rhys Hutchings, elected as a Labour representative to St Julian’s ward last year, told The Independent on Wednesday that Newport should not fear losing the 1970s work after the public artwork was denied listed status by Wales’s heritage body, Cadw.

The 35m (115ft) mural, a mosaic of 200,000 pieces of tile and glass, was created in a walkway off John Frost Square by artist Kenneth Budd in 1978. As reported on Tuesday, it now faces destruction to make way for a £100m shopping centre.

The rapper, who is known in the band as Zardoz, P Xain and Dwain Xain Zedong and who grew up in Newport suburb of Allt-yr-Yn, has taken “a few days off” council duties as the GLC are currently on a UK tour.

He formed the collective in 2000 and their hits, peppered with frequent references to their hometown, include "Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do", which reached number three in the UK charts.

Speaking from the group’s tour bus on its way to The Old Fire Station in Bournemouth for Wednesday night’s gig, he said: “It’s not really about the mural, son. It’s about the Chartists. Big up the Chartists. There is so much else in the city about Chartism that you can talk about.

“Just mention the Westgate Hotel to someone who knows about Chartism and see what they tell you. Somebody put a teddy bear on the roof of the hotel, by the way. There are many, many symbols in the Newport that are a fantastic way for people to start speaking about Chartism and what it means to Newport and to the wider world.

“We’re a beacon of democracy – if you can get that message across that’ll be superb.”

The Westgate Hotel was attacked by Chartists during the ‘Newport Rising’ of 1839 when up to 5,000 supporters marched with intent on liberating fellow Chartists who were reported to have been taken prisoner in the building. The group eventually retreated with dozens of people killed and many more wounded. It is this fatal confrontation that the city’s mural depicts.

Newport city council said their hands were tied by Cadw’s decision and that an attempt to relocate the mural would cost £600,000 and was therefore not financially viable.

A spokesperson for Cadw said on Tuesday: “The Chartist Mural in Newport has not been awarded listing status principally because it fell short of the criteria to be listed at the national level on grounds of its special architectural interest.  The quality of building to which the mosaic is attached is poor and the underpass itself has no intrinsic design merits. It was also felt that there was no specific association between the location of the mural and the Chartist uprising.”

Mr Hutchings, who’s also a governor of St Julian’s primary school, claimed that he hadn't made too much of his public profile during his 2012 campaign which saw him elected with 971 votes after a recount.

He told the NME at the time: “Me and the guys I was running alongside all put out leaflets with brief descriptions of us all and on that was a bit about being in popular hip-hop band Goldie Lookin Chain. A couple of people recognised me, but I genuinely think the last thing people expected was a member of Goldie Lookin Chain to knock on their door and say ‘Hi, what are your local issues?’ It’d be a bit like Sting turning up at your front door.”

A spokesman for Save Newport Art said: “Next year is the 175th anniversary of the Newport Rising. Destroying the Chartist Mural isn't a fitting celebration.”

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering