John Uzzell Edwards bring warmth and social history to Swansea Waterfront Museum

By Richard Moss | 09 December 2011
an abstract painting of colourful swirls, shapes and blocks of colour
© John Uzzell Edwards
Exhibition: John Uzzell Edwards, Red Wall Gallery, National Waterfront Museum, Swansea, December 10 2011 - March 4 2012

As Britain succumbs to the icy folds of winter, the National Waterfront Museum is opening a timely exhibition which somehow manages to conjure the diverse ideas of warmth, colour, history and abstraction.

The paintings of John Uzzell Edwards are inspired by his world-famous collection of Welsh quilts and blankets, and the abstract churn of patterns, textures, materials and rhythms hide a quantity of strong social histories that mirror the industrial heritage collection of the museum.

Some of the quilts Edwards has collected, some of which can be seen on display here, include a Swansea Crazy Quilt made from scraps of velvet from a pre-war milliners shop in the town.

A Llanelli Quilt is made entirely from miner's shirts dating to the late 19th century, and a Log Cabin Quilt features scraps from women's working clothes from the 1890s, including the purple tiny-flowered cotton of maid’s dresses.

Originally from the Rhymney Valley, Edwards has lived in the Upper Swansea Valley for the past 33 years. He remembers the role of quilts in his childhood in the small mining village of Deri.

"I always had Welsh quilts and blankets on my bed, so they have been a big part of my family life for many years," he says. "When I paint, I don't just copy them, but use the patterns, materials, meanderings and rhythms as stimulation.

"I'm delighted to have the paintings displayed at the National Waterfront Museum. They link in suitably to the theme of telling the story of people in Wales during the industrial revolution."

Visitors can also see a short film about John's life as a painter filmed at his studio in the Upper Swansea Valley. Prints of some of John paintings are on sale in the Museum shop.

More from the exhibition:

an abstract painting of colourful swirling blocks of colour
© John Uzzell Edwards
a colurful abstract painting resembling the stitched panels of a quilt
© John Uzzell Edwards
a photo of a large quilt made of colourful panels
© John Uzzell Edwards
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