THE MS for Arfon, Siân Gwenllian, was recently joined by artist Pete Jones in his exhibition at Storiel art gallery and museum in Bangor, which he describes as being ‘an exploration of the area in which I grew up.’

Pete Jones was born in the Hirael area of Bangor, and has suggested there are autobiographical elements to his latest exhibition, ‘The Bay’.

The Hirael area of Bangor is unique and stands apart from the rest of Bangor as an area, in Pete’s words, that was ‘shaped by the sea and slate’.

It used to be a small cluster of dwellings, until the slate ships began using the port, and the local shipbuilding industry boomed in the 19th century.

Later, 12 streets of affordable housing for the soaring workforce were soon built around Ambrose Street.

Hirael was described as ‘self-contained’, with its own shops, pubs, shoemakers, tailors and baker all serving the workers and families of workers employed at three shipbuilding yards established along the shore.

Pete said: “The smell of the sea (and mud during hot summers) was strong and a reminder of our proximity to the deep.

“At high tide, large parts of Hirael are below sea level and under threat of flooding. A range of emotional and cultural reference points have guided the work.

“Recollections of looking out to sea and the horizon feature prominently in this body of work. I have attempted to create atmospheres which reflect my feelings for what was and is now gone.”

In a recent interview with Aled Hughes on BBC Radio Cymru, Pete described the works as ‘memories in paintings’ of ‘a place that has changed a lot over the years’.

The exhibition was recently visited by Siân Gwenllian, who said: “The Hirael area, despite having changed over the years, continues to be of great historical significance.

“It was once a hive of maritime industry and was important in the local slate industry.

“It is the stories of places such as Hirael that need to be remembered as the area is designated an UNESCO world heritage site.

“From sailmakers, chandlers, foundry and blockmakers, to their families, it was the characters that shaped Hirael, and that’s clear in Pete’s evocative work.”

After studying at Chester School of Art, Pete completed a degree in fine art at Loughborough College of Art and Design.

He became a learning disability nurse for 30 years before returning to full-time painting in 2016.

The ‘Y Bae’ / ‘The Bay’ exhibition of Pete’s paintings will be hosted at Storiel in Bangor until December 31.