John Piper, South Wales View (Swansea West), c.1975. © The Piper Estate 2008
Exhibition preview - A Passion for Art at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, until June 29 2008.
Like many similar associations in museums and galleries across the UK, the Association of Friends of the Glynn Vivian in Swansea has played a vital role in supporting the gallery by promoting its work with key acquisitions and with important fundraising initiatives.
Now this good work is being celebrated with a new exhibition featuring some of the 140+ works the Friends have helped the gallery to acquire since their inception 50 years ago.
Selected by Kristine Brander Dunthorne, who has also written a book to celebrate the Friends’ achievements, A Passion for Art features some important purchases, gifts and bequests including works by Marc Chagall, Barbara Hepworth, Paul Nash and John Piper.
Felicity Charlton, Cineraria, 1964. © The Artist
The latter is represented by a stunning watercolour and gouache view of Swansea West. A study for a lithograph, the view from Foxhole, Kilvey Hill looks south west towards Mumbles and is typical of Piper’s later work in Wales, the natural wonders of which were introduced to him by his wife Myfanwy.
As befits a major art gallery in Wales, works acquired with the help of the Friends show a marked emphasis on collecting art of Welsh and local significance. Accordingly paintings and drawings can be seen by Ceri Richards, Alfred Janes, Jack Jones, Shani Rhys James and others, together with some fine examples of Swansea pottery and landscapes.
The work by Ceri Richards, who is arguably Swansea’s most distinguished painter, is a self-portrait dating from 1950. The painting is interesting not only for the subject matter but also the setting – it has been suggested that the drawings pinned up in the background ‘appear to be sketches from the series inspired by Dylan Thomas’.
Alfred Janes, Portrait of Dylan Thomas, c.1964. © Ross Janes and Hilly Janes.
The exhibition also features a fine selection of works from the Sir Alex Gordon bequest. Born in Swansea in 1917, the former president of RIBA spent many happy hours in the Glynn Vivian as a boy and cited these youthful gallery visits as the inspiration behind his lifelong interest in art.
After his death in 1999, his gift of 32 small-scale paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures from his private collection, demonstrate his personal taste and judgement and greatly enhance the Gallery’s collection of 20th century art.
Included here are eight works shown together including pieces by Marc Chagall, Kyffin Williams and Augustus John together with further two works by Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth. Sculptures include pieces by Elizabeth Frink, and sculptural portraits of Augustus John and Sir Alex himself by Welsh sculptor Ivor Roberts-Jones.
Alfred Parkman, Swansea from Townhill, 1917.
A significant Welsh sculptor, Roberts-Jones modelled a number of portrait heads of distinguished Welsh sitters, including Sir William Crawshay, George Thomas and his close friend, Kyffin Williams.
All images reproduced by kind permission of the Friends of Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, photography by Graham Matthews.
This is an exhibition preview. If you've been to see this show, why not let us know what you think?