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Art in Wales Review by Welsh Artists

Art in Wales Review by Welsh Artists

Wales was unusual for art compared to other parts of the UK. 

The concentration of visual artists in rural areas, rather than urban centres as most of Britain at that time, were drawn to Wales by its impressive scenery.

The Cambrian Academy of Art was founded by artists in the Conwy Valley where art was exhibited at established commercial galleries in Llandudno on the North Wales coast.

In South Wales, Cardiff did not become a large town until rapid industrial expansion took place during the second half of the nineteenth century. Artists had visited the town from an earlier date, painting a number of works of South Wales including of Cardiff's North and West Gates.

In 1861, a museum for Cardiff was created in temporary rooms based on subscriptions, sharing accommodation with the Cardiff Free Library in St Mary Street and in 1870 Cardiff's first large-scale public art exhibition, the Fine Art and Industrial Exhibition, took place.

Today, the Cardiff art scene has a variety and excellent selection of quality art. The Cardiff Museum holds one of the best collections in the world, including several original Monet works.
The art collection at National Museum Cardiff is one of Europe's finest.

See five hundred years of magnificent paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world, including one of Europe's finest collections of Impressionist art.

Central to the town's artistic community at the time were artist T. H. Thomas (1834–1915) and architect Edwin Seward (1853–1924). Thomas exhibited at the 1870 exhibition. Seward studied at Cardiff's College of Art and later designed the town's new Free Library on The Hayes.

Exhibitions were held in 1884 and 1885 to raise money for a headquarters for the Cambrian Academy. Instead, Seward and a group of artists created the South Wales Art Society in 1888, with an annual exhibition and lecture programme.

The South Wales Art Society (SWAS) planned to have an annual exhibition, a lecture programme and a sketching club and "offering to those who admire or appreciate, rather than practise, a means of cultivating a taste for Art".

The same principles hold true today. The SWAS continues to hold annual exhibitions in a variety of locations in Penarth and Cardiff. Its 100th exhibition took place at the Turner House Gallery, Penarth and its 127th took place in the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay in 2014.
One up and coming Cardiff artist, SWAS member Christopher Langley, took part in the 127th SWAS Exhibition, with two original works. He says “I’ve been with the society for just three years. I have met some top artists such as president Arnold Lowry, who runs master classes in watercolour. My own art has been greatly influenced by the techniques and people I have met there”.

There are a number of well-established galleries in Cardiff. Notable private galleries include the Albany Gallery, Roath, which was opened in 1965 by Mary Yapp and became the agent for Welsh art legend Kyffin Williams. The Martin Tinney Gallery opened in 1989 in the city centre, later moving to St Andrews Crescent, and represents major Welsh artists such as Shani Rhys James.

Gallery 66, in the Duke Street Arcade offers a wide range of well-framed prints and the occasional original work. The Victoria Fearn Gallery in Rhiwbina, North Cardiff offers a small selection of local artists, including water-colourist Kevin Strong.

Welsh artist Christopher Langley’s work has been featured in some of these galleries; his work reflecting current Welsh culture and scenery. Christopher is partly inspired by fellow modern Celtic artist Gillian McDonald. The mood and atmospheric landscapes, coupled with a genius use of colour and shade, he owns a number of her works, as well as fellow SWAS member and fine water-colourist Phil Ross.

To conclude, if you live in the South Wales area and have an interest in art on any level, contact Christopher or direct with the SWAS.

Christopher Langley’s next solo exhibition is at Jaspers Tea Rooms, Llandaff High Street on April 14th 2016 from 18:00. His on-line gallery can be seen at

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