Posted - 24-06-2019


The Roese Collection of Contemporary Welsh Paintings

An important gift, which recently came into the Library’s possession, was the Roese Collection, a valuable and comprehensive collection of contemporary Welsh art. Many of the items from this iconic collection can be viewed within the Collecting Contemporary exhibition here at the National Library. Within this blog Caryl and Dr Herbert Roese who kindly donated these works to the Library, give us an insight into the how this iconic collection evolved. Next Wednesday, on July 3rd at 1 pm, Caryl Roese will be giving a lunchtime talk at the Library’s Drwm on this important collection. A warm welcome to all. Free admission via ticket. Tickets available via the Library’s website: or by phone:  01970 632 548.

Being from South Wales, we were first introduced to Welsh Paintings per se by the Polish artist Josef Herman who I knew as a child in Ystradgynlais. He drew attention to the Coal Mining era between 1944-55.



In the 1960s we developed a serious interest in collecting paintings. In the 1970s, we decided to concentrate on purchasing abstract works by Welsh artists, some of whom were already well known, such as Ceri Richards. It was also important for us where possible to meet and talk to the individual artists about their work. Many long lasting friendships grew out of these meetings.

The first painting we acquired was one of Ernest Zobole’s Landscapes, i.e.No.2 of 1978, which we saw in his studio at Penrhys Road, Ystrad Rhondda, and we were later able to purchase two further works by the artist namely Painting about a Landscape (1997) and Ystrad and People No.10 (1961).

We were introduced to Ivor Davies by way of the Washington Gallery, Penarth. Over time we bought a number of his works, e.g. Mabon (1997), Natur a Meithrin/Nature and Culture (1983), and were presented with a gift namely Ivor’s View through a window (1969).



Glenys Cour’s style of painting appealed to us enormously leading to our purchase of Celtic Landscape (2001) at the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff. We visited the artist many times at her home in the Mumbles, where we also acquired the work Celtic Stone (1998/99). During an exhibition at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, celebrating the poetry of Vernon Watkins  i.e. Taliesin and the Mockers, we acquired Glenys’s paper collage I stood erect at the birth of rivers. It was illustrated in the artist’s same titled book and on the cover of the 2004 Dylan Thomas Festival brochure.

Another Welsh artist who invited us to his studio to view his work was Iwan Bala. As a result, we purchased the wonderful Omphalos (1999). It was inspired by the artist’s stay in Zimbabwe, something we had in common.



It is also worth mentioning the names of some other painters in the collection and the titles of their works:  Keith Bayliss Visiting Angel, Gwenllian Beynon Hapus, Anthony Evans Cae Melyn & Brain, Ruth Jen Evans Tir Terfyn, Neal Howells Black Puck, Bert Isaac (several created in 2001-2003), Mary Lloyd-Jones Hen Waith Cwmystwyth, Islwyn Watkins (several created in 2001 and earlier) to name only a few.



We believe that we should all support our own modern Welsh artists, which explains our choice of mostly abstract works.

Caryl Roese


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About this blog

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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