Art world’s Welsh national gallery wish list – BBC News

Image copyright Artes Mundi/ Bedwyr Williams
Image caption Bedwyr Williams’ work Tyrrau Mawr won an award at the prestigious Artes Mundi ceremony in January

As plans are drawn up for a new National Gallery of Modern Welsh Art, we asked artists and thinkers which pieces should it feature.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, former UK government minister and Dr Kim Howells and Wales footballer and painter Owain Fn Williams are among those who have given us their thoughts.

From classic images of miners to irreverent re-imaginings of Welsh culture, their choices offer an enticing glimpse of the sort of works a new institution could contain.

Caernarfon-based artist Bedwyr Williams is mentioned as a must by contemporary artist and blacksmith Angharad Pearce Jones.

Image copyright Bedwyr Williams/ Other
Image caption A photographic presentation of Bard Attitude

Williams himself would choose two of his own works for the gallery; Bard Attitude a series of comedy routines from 2005 where, dressed as a Celtic bard with a flowing fake beard, Williams plays on a cliche of Welsh heritage and identity.

His other suggested work is the Artes Mundi-nominated Tyrrau Mawr, which is about to be added to the collection at the National Museum of Wales.

An audio-visual representation of a fictional city on the slopes of Gwynedd’s Cadair Idris mountain, it represents the clash between a fast-track, commercial globalised monster city and an ancient location.

Image copyright Keystone/ Getty
Image caption Swansea painter Ceri Richards, chosen by Dr Rowan Williams

Dr Williams suggests Haverfordwest-born Gwen John for the “rare depth” with which she invests faces and inanimate objects.

“Her use of a ‘dusty’ palette suggest a certain glow of indeterminacy and mysteriousness,” Dr Williams adds.

He also recommends 20th Century Swansea painter Ceri Richards, “as a particularly bold experimentalist, capable of unexpected things in both fixed and fluid compositions”.

The sculptor Moelwyn Merchant, pupil of Barbara Hepworth, is also mentioned, for his “monumental but also sharp-edged and uncomfortable” work in Margam Park.

Image copyright Angharad Pearce Jones
Image caption This Way Please, by Angharad Pearce Jones

Owain Fon Williams, the Welsh football international, is becoming as famous for his art as his goalkeeping ability as he recently completed a painting of the Wales team at Euro 2016.

His chosen pieces are from Ifor Pritchard, who was renowned for his images capturing the life of local slate quarries in and around his childhood home of Carmel, Gwynedd.

“The industry back then would have been hard and tough. The way Ifor showed this in his painting is amazing,” Mr Williams explains.

South Wales installation artist Ms Pearce Jones said the gallery should “encapsulate the visual heartbeat of the nation”.

She said any new institution should contain a breadth of Welsh art, from Mary Lloyd Jones – who she says “stood alone for many decades in a very male dominated Welsh Art scene in the and 60s and 70s” – to young conceptual artist Carwyn Evans.

Image copyright Sue Williams
Image caption The work of painter Sue Williams explores modern day sexuality

Ms Jones also suggests painter and Swansea Art College lecturer, Professor Sue Williams, for addressing the “over-sexualisation of girls and so many potent sexual ambiguities in her vibrant portraits.”

She adds any national gallery would be incomplete without one of Iwan Bala’s map pieces.

Image copyright Iwan Bala
Image caption Iwan Bala creates imagined maps and landscapes, commenting on Welsh culture

Bala, meanwhile, said a 2015 retrospective at the National Museum of Wales proved more of Ivor Davies’s work should be permanently on show.

He added that the new gallery should also provide a temporary exhibition space for Artes Mundi and Wales in Venice artists, as well as art from countries with similar cultural situations to Wales – Basque art, for example.

Art school graduate and former foreign minister Dr Kim Howells is well-remembered for his strong comments on the 2002 Turner Prize contenders, has presented many BBC arts programmes and is a long-time supporter of the creation of a National Gallery for Wales.

His first choice is 1911 painting The Blue Pool, by Pembrokeshire-born painter Augustus John – brother of celebrated artist Gwen.

Image copyright Wales News Service
Image caption Penarth-based artist Ivor Davies with his 2015 exhibition at Cardiff’s National Museum

According to Dr Howells, the work proved for the first time that Wales was capable of producing “world-class creative talent.”

“It expresses perfectly the joy and contentment of relaxing on an afternoon on a sun-drenched lakeside,” he adds.

Dr Howells also nominates classic 1931 portrait The Welsh Collier, painted by Swansea artist Evan Walters.

“I know of no other painting of a working coal-miner that comes near to this in conveying a sense of the intelligence, self-confidence, pride and panache that I remember so many miners possessing,” he says.

“These men and the women who supported them stand among the most important creators of modern Wales.”

Image copyright Mary Lloyd Jones
Image caption Aberystwyth-based painter Mary Lloyd Jones is nominated by installation artist Angharad Pearce Jones

Welsh Academy of Art founder Lucy Corbett suggests the 2006 painting ‘Drifting’ by Norwegian neo-baroque artist Odd Nerdrum.

“The reason being that, like most of his work, it is compelling, timeless, thought-provoking, overwhelming and awe-inspiring whilst rendered masterfully,” she explains.

“He is a rarity in our era of art and will be revered in posterity.”

Cat Gardiner, of Cardiff’s contemporary Ten Gallery chooses prominent young Royal College of Art alumnus Carwyn Evans.

“His work is deeply rooted in Welsh culture yet has an international aesthetic ,” she says.

Image copyright Ten Gallery
Image caption Gwlith by Welsh artist Carwyn Evans – the choice of Cat Gardiner of Cardiff’s Ten Gallery

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