Lowry, Spencer, Freud and more head to Orkney with "incredible" Derek Williams collection

By Ben Miller | 17 September 2012
A black and white photo of a man in a suit smiling during the mid-20th century
Derek Williams at an opening at the Howard Roberts Gallery, Cardiff© National Museum Wales
Exhibition Preview: The Derek Williams Trust Collection, Pier Arts Centre, Stromness, until November 17 2012

If you thought chartered surveyors might do more for the facades of museums than their collections, Cardiff art connoisseur Derek Williams disproves the preconception.

During the 1950s, Williams began building an immense collection. It features Stanley Spencer, Victor Pasmore and Lucian Freud, but also reflects Williams’ adoration for the work of John Piper and Ceri Richards.

“During his life, Derek built an incredible collection of modern British art,” says Melissa Munro, the curator for the Trust Collection which cares for the legacy, based at National Museum Wales.

“We are extremely pleased to be bringing this unique collection to Scotland, and with it a greater awareness of the collection outside of Wales.”

The Trust was set up following Williams’ death in 1984, and continues to support the museum’s expanding vault of 20th century works.  More than 40 of them are on display here, including pieces by LS Lowry, Henry Moore and Ivon Hitchens.

“While the Derek Williams Collection roughly matches the Pier Collection in time it, represents a very different approach to the British landscape and abstract painting,” says Andrew Parkinson, the curator at the Orkney venue for this limited-stop tour.

“Artists like Hitchens, Piper and David Jones work in a more romantic and pastoral vein, and it will be interesting to view their work and the other artists in the Derek Williams Collection, alongside the Modernist core of the Pier Arts Centre Collection.”

  • Open 10.30am-5pm. Admission free. Exhibition continues to City Art Centre, Edinburgh, December 1 2012 – February 24 2013.
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