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Romanticism in the Welsh Landscape
A major loan exhibition at MOMA Machynlleth
19 March to 18 June 2016
WILSON ˑ TURNER ˑ COTMAN ˑ JONES ˑ RAVILIOUS ˑ RICHARDS ˑ
SUTHERLAND ˑ CRAXTON ˑ COCKRILL ˑ TRESS ˑ SEAR ˑ KLUZ
John Piper, Llanthony Abbey, 1941 (National Library of Wales)
Romanticism in the Welsh Landscape is one of the most substantial
exhibition ever held at MOMA Machynlleth. Through over sixty works
loaned from public and private collections it explores the seminal
influence that Wales has had on Romantic approaches to landscape
from the mid eighteenth century to the present. Many of the works
included have never been shown in public.
The exhibition includes works by the father of British landscape painting,
Richard Wilson, and his disciple, Thomas Jones. Both can be seen as
among the precursors of landscape painters who sought to show the
particularities of real rather than idealised landscapes and evoke the
spirit of place. A generation later it was in Wales that Turner and Cotman
as young men experienced for the first time the grandeur of the ‘Sublime’
and began to find their personal artistic visions. The mountains,
waterfalls, ruins, coasts and mines of Wales became subjects for a
succession of expressive landscape artists who sought to convey
through landscape painting the power of nature, the immensity of
Creation and the destruction wrought by time. voices, the Welsh
landscape has inspired numerous artists.
Thomas Jones, The Southern Extremity of the Carneddau, 1795, National Library of Wales
In the mid twentieth-century, Neo-Romantic artists such as Graham
Sutherland, John Piper and their younger followers were inspired by the
mountains, coasts and estuaries of Wales to cross-fertilise the
achievements of Romantic landscape painters with Modernist ideas
derived from Surrealism, Expressionism and abstraction. Sutherland and
Piper spent formative periods in Wales, while John Craxton, John Minton
and other followed them to find stimulus in the wild scenery of the
country. A few artists such as Josef Herman and David Jones made
homes in Wales for a time and a generation of Welsh-born painters
absorbed a Neo-Romantic vocabulary, including Ceri Richards, John
Elwyn, Ray Howard-Jones and Leslie Moore.
Helen Sear, Chameleon, video, 2013
In the last thirty years, the Welsh landscape has continued to nourish
visionary artists who have used a range of media from watercolour to
video. Among the older generation are Arthur Giardelli, Roger Cecil and
Bert Isaac, whose work presented ideas about the Welsh landscape
through abstract idioms. Others have placed narrative subjects in Welsh
contexts, such as Ivor Davies and Clive Hicks-Jenkins, or have
represented the landscape expressively, such as Peter Prendergast,
Glenys Cour, David Tress and Philip Nicol. Some younger contemporary
artists such as Tim Davies, Ed Kluz, Dalit Leon and Helen Sear
reference landscape in painting, photography, video and installation.
Some contemporary works will be for sale.
The exhibition is curated by Dr Peter Wakelin.
The exhibition opens on Saturday 19 March. The galleries are open
Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
Please note: the contemporary artists' section of the exhibition will be
closed for the Machynlleth Comedy Festival from April 28 until May 4.
Notes for the Editor.
The Museum of Modern Art, Machynlleth (MOMA, MACHYNLLETH) was established in
1991 as MOMA WALES alongside The Tabernacle in Machynlleth, Powys. It is owned and
run by Machynlleth Tabernacle Trust which is funded by grants and public donations.
Throughout the year the galleries show contemporary art, featuring leading artists from
Wales, works from the growing Tabernacle Collection, and in August selected entries from the
Tabernacle Art Competition. Many of the works of art are for sale. The current exhibition
programme is supported by the Arts Council of Wales.
In May 2015 "The Tannery" was opened after many years of fundraising and restoration of
this historic industrial building. This contains two galleries, connected to the main building by
a bridge, one of which is specifically for sculpture. This brings the number of exhibition
spaces up to seven.
Lucinda Middleton, Richard and Ann Mayou Fund Curator
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