Blog - #LoveArt

Posted - 16-02-2018 No Comments

#LoveArt / Collections / Exhibitions / Kyffin Blog

Kyffin Williams – a look behind the frame

The Library is buzzing with activity today as we launch our new exhibition Kyffin Williams: Behind the Frame. So what can you expect?

There are 4 themes in the exhibition ‘Self’, ‘Artist’, ‘People’ and ‘Places’ which is situated in the Gregynog Gallery and Annexe on the second floor of the Library. The artist himself will guide you through the show as many of his own words taken from his diaries, letters and publications are placed around the exhibits. For those who want to delve deeper there is an opportunity to scan selected paintings using the Smartify app; the Library and Oriel Ynys Môn are the first institutions in Wales to use this new technology.

Upon entering, you will be confronted with a miscellany of Kyffin’s image in various guises, from the early sketches of the pensive young man to the more confident older artist whose eyes gaze directly into your own in an almost challenging way. Diaries and letters delve deeper into the character of the artist, one of the highlights being a particularly endearing letter he wrote to his ‘Mummy & Daddy’ when he was at boarding school in Trearddur.

In ‘Artist’ you will see the making of Kyffin and his life-long influences, especially his association with Van Gogh and the parallels he drew with his fellow epileptic. His paintings, ’Sunflowers with Mountains Beyond’ and ‘Crows and Storm coming’, are of particular note, the latter often thematically compared to one of Van Gogh’s most famous works ‘Wheatfield with Crows’, in which Kyffin mimics Van Gogh’s strong colour combinations and the menacing sky which is said to signify the artist’s loneliness. Some of his early works from his time in the Slade are uncharacteristically ‘Kyffin’ but a fascinating insight into how he perfected his craft.

Turn the corner and you immediately feel as if you are being watched by the many eyes in Kyffin’s portraits. His placement of the sitter on his canvases is intentional and intriguing. Kyffin mentioned in his book ‘Portraits’: “The placing of the head within the confines of the canvas can show the personality of the sitter.” Indeed, the larger more confident subjects fill the canvas and look directly at you, whilst the more timid and neurotic subjects tend to be placed to one side and looking away. Our favourite is Miss Parry; a partially invented character representing his fascination with old age, “especially those who sit and wait for the end to come”.

Although he never saw himself as a traditional portrait painter, Kyffin was obsessed with people. He once said: “I feel that the land and its people are almost part of me”. Kyffin grew up among the hills and valleys of north Wales and was drawn to the landscape and its people, especially the figure of the farmer whom is constant in his work and adorns many living rooms and gallery walls. There are a few of his best examples in the exhibition.

‘Places’ is the largest and most significant theme in the show. His work in this genre was so prolific, it was very difficult to boil it down to fit into the space; but with a little help from Kyffin himself (he often listed his favourites in interviews and in his diaries) we have tried to represent the very best of his of works inspired by the mountains and seascape of Wales and beyond.

The large Welsh landscape wall which is hung in a salon style as an acknowledgement to the artist’s appointment as a Royal Academician in 1973 is a fitting finale to the exhibition. A challenging hanging method never before attempted by our team, but has been our personal highlight of the whole exhibition.

It has been some 13 years since we last dedicated an exhibition to Kyffin and we do hope that you will enjoy the experience and find some favourites of your own…maybe even be inspired to try your hand at creating your very own masterpiece! Do let us know what your own personal highlights are on social media using #Kyffin100 [Twitter: @NLWExhibtion] and remember to download the Smartify App before your visit.

 

Exhibitions Team

Posted - 07-02-2018 No Comments

#LoveArt / Collections / News and Events

#LoveArt – Valériane Leblond

This month, artist Valériane Leblond takes part in our #LoveArt campaign.

She has chosen View from Hen Gaer Castellan by Edrica Huws (1907-1999) as her final choice.

I love how the artist uses the different fabrics in a way a painter would use the colours on a palette. The tones are subtle, and the subject itself is not obvious at first sight. I find it interesting that Edrica Huws uses patchwork, a craft that is not very present in the art world, but which has been a mean for women to express themselves for several centuries, especially in Wales. Her style is unique and the patterns on the fabrics give it an extra dimension.

View from Hen Gaer Castellan

Valériane Leblond

Posted - 31-01-2018 No Comments

#LoveArt / Collections / News and Events

#LoveArt – Valériane Leblond

This month, artist Valériane Leblond takes part in our #LoveArt campaign.
She has chosen Pictorial dictionary by Eliza Pughe (c.1831-1850) as her third choice.

This is a very cute piece of work. I used to create tiny books when I was a child, and I have always found illustrated alphabets and educational posters interesting. Eliza Pughe has been illustrating in a simple and efficient way everyday objects and actions, and has been writing the words for them in both Welsh and English. The story around the artist is touching as well, as she was deaf and mute from birth, she must have found a way of expressing herself through pictorial art.

Pictorial dictionary by Eliza Pughe (c.1831-1850)

Valériane Leblond

Posted - 26-01-2018 No Comments

#LoveArt / Collections / Exhibitions / Kyffin Blog

Kyffin Williams: Celebrating a Centenary

Our exhibitions team are very busy now as we are gearing up for our major exhibition ‘Kyffin Williams: Behind the Frame’ which opens on 16th February. There are so many amazing collections to choose from – not just his paintings, but his letters, diaries and ephemera from a previously unseen archive. It has been an immense yet enjoyable task; there is enough material to fill our extensive gallery over and over again!

At the same time we have been preparing almost 70 items for an exhibition at Oriel Ynys Môn entitled ‘Kyffin Williams: Celebrating a Centenary’ which opens on 3rd February. In return there are few little gems coming here on loan from the collection of Oriel Ynys Môn, which you can see on display at the Library. One of which is an emotive depiction of a storm across the Menai Strait which is the same view of an oil painting in our collection entitled ‘Storm Approaching’. It was Ian Jones, Buildings and Collections Manager at Oriel Môn, who noticed the link between their drawing and our oil painting: “Kyffin called the work ‘Beaumaris’, but it’s a view of the Menai Strait and Eryri beyond from Glanrafon, near Llangoed. Beaumaris is in the middle of the drawing behind the trees on the shore of the Menai.”

Kyffin was a staunch supporter of the Library and Oriel Ynys Môn and he would be thrilled to know that we continue to work together to share his collections with the nation.

For regular updates on the progress of the exhibition, follow us on
Twitter: @nlwexhibition
Instagram: @nlwales
#Kyffin100

 

Exhibitions Team

Posted - 24-01-2018 No Comments

#LoveArt / Collections / News and Events

#LoveArt – Valériane Leblond

This month, artist Valériane Leblond takes part in our #LoveArt campaign.

She has chosen Drawing volume DV56 of Welsh Primitive Art  as her second choice.

These pictures are really fascinating, and I am so grateful to the National Library I got to see the originals. These paintings are very mysterious – who is the artist? A woman, a man? What age? What background? We can only guess. The technique is far from being academically perfect, but it conveys a unique feeling. The places depicted are local to Aberystwyth area, and the subjects are everyday activities of that time (drawing water from the fountain, fishing, working at the mill…). There are children playing, women with babies, farm animals grazing, and the pictures are both full of life and calm peaceful scenes.

Drawing volume DV56 of Welsh Primitive Art (PA6784)

Valériane Leblond

Posted - 17-01-2018 No Comments

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#LoveArt – Valériane Leblond

This month, artist Valériane Leblond takes part in our #LoveArt campaign.

She has chosen ‘Cottage loaves baked in an ancient oven at Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant’ by Geoff Charles, January 1955 as her first choice.


I love how Geoff Charles allows us to enter people’s houses and learn more about their everyday lives. It takes a special talent to make people feel comfortable and natural in their own homes, especially if they are from a humble background. I have chosen this picture where Miss E Hughes seems so proud of showing how to bake a loaf of bread – bread is essential! – but there are many more by Geoff Charles of families, kitchens and hearths that are really interesting too.

‘Cottage loaves baked in an ancient oven at Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant’

The National Collection of Welsh Photographs

Valériane Leblond

Posted - 10-01-2018 No Comments

#LoveArt / Collections / News and Events

#LoveArt – Tegwen Morris

Tegwen Morris, National Director of Merched y Wawr takes part in our #LoveArt Campaign. She has chosen View of Aberystwyth Harbour, 1944 Eric Beardsworth 1881 – 1961 as her third choice.

I really like this lovely painting, which shows so many different elements. The setting has rarely changed to date – the beautiful boats, mountains and harbour in Aberystwyth. I often walk here – and there’s something different to see every day – the fishing boats, the big storms rush the water and the families who are crab fishing. What I really like about this painting is the white clothes drying on the clothes line. As a girl who was raised in the mountains but who now lives near the sea, this picture shows the perfect combination.

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Posted - 03-01-2018 No Comments

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#LoveArt – Tegwen Morris

Tegwen Morris, National Director of Merched y Wawr takes part in our #LoveArt Campaign. She has chosen Lady Megan Lloyd George by Henry Lamb, 1952 as her second choice.

Paintings of women are rare compared to paintings of men. This painting is lovely, with Dame Megan Lloyd George sitting relaxed and dignified on a comfortable chair. She has a lovely blue dress and a beautiful broach which reminds me of one of the Merched y Wawr “Ategolion at y Galon” collections. It’s astonishing to think that Megan Lloyd George died in 1966, a year before Merched y Wawr was established, I can imagine that she would of been a member had she lived longer.

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Catalogue Record

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Posted - 27-12-2017 No Comments

#LoveArt / Collections / News and Events

#LoveArt – Tegwen Morris

Tegwen Morris, National Director of Merched y Wawr takes part in our #LoveArt Campaign. She has chosen ‘Ysbryd Erwau Gleision’ by Elwyn Ioan as her first choice.

This is a colourful and lively picture that appeals to me greatly. It depicts a traditional Welsh kitchen with a strong element of humour. I like traditional furniture, and as a farmer’s daughter from the Ffaldybrenin area of Carmarthenshire I enjoy having fun. The Salem painting, the oak clock, the kitchen, the dresser and the glassware and the wooden chair on the traditional red and black floor (as in our Victorian house kitchen) creates a warm and traditional setting with a fire and two mice. (Though I do not like mice!). There is also a Ghost and because I was born on a Halloween this makes it a very relevant painting.

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Catalogue Record

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A blog about the work and collections of the National Library of Wales.

Due to the more personal nature of blogs it is the Library's policy to publish postings in the original language only. An equal number of blog posts are published in both Welsh and English, but they are not the same postings. For a translation of the blog readers may wish to try facilities such as Google Translate.

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