‘This is the land that has obsessed me throughout my life. My love of it is not superficial but deep, for my family have for so many generations had the same feeling for the land and its people. When I left art school I did not have to think what I should paint for my subject was deep inside me and waiting for me to record it’.
(Kyffin Williams, ‘The Land & the Sea’, Gomer Press,1998).The Kyffin Williams Exhibition which opens on the 16th of February, 2018 will commemorate the centenary of the birth of one of Wales’ leading artists. It is therefore an opportunity for the National Library to celebrate its rich collection of the Anglesey born artist’s works – from his iconic landscapes and powerful seascapes of Anglesey, north-west Wales and abroad to his emotive portraits. There is also an opportunity within the exhibition to view lesser-known works by the artist previously unseen by the public, which include his preparatory works such as his sketchbooks and his printing blocks. The Library houses over 200 oil paintings, over 1,200 works on paper and over 300 original prints by the artist.
Many people mainly associate Kyffin Williams with his impasto technique of painting – placing the oil paint down thickly onto the canvas using a palette knife. An extremely interesting aspect of the research into this exhibition was to discover the early works which the artist created whilst he was a student at the Slade School of Art and an art teacher at the Highgate School in London in the 1940s through to the early 1970s. These early works are of great importance in showing how Kyffin developed his technique and iconic style of painting which from the beginning of his career caught the imagination of the people of Wales.
Within this exhibition we shall also gain an invaluable insight into Kyffin’s creative mind by taking a look at a few films on the artist and also his diaries and letters which are housed within our archives. Kyffin Williams was a skilled writer who instantly caught the reader’s imagination and his entertaining autobiographies are testimony to this. This exhibition will therefore be an unique opportunity to celebrate Kyffin’s words and images in an extremely effective manner on the walls of the National Library’s iconic Gregynog Gallery.
Morfudd Bevan, Art Curator, National Library of Wales
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