28 November 2016 – 17 February 2017
John Elwyn was born one hundred years ago in Adpar, south Ceredigion where his father ran a woollen mill on the banks of the river Teifi. This exhibition, curated by the artist’s friend and biographer Professor Robert Meyrick, commemorates the centenary of the birth of one of Wales’ most distinguished artists whose paintings have contributed significantly to the British landscape tradition.
Writing in 1952, the artist John Petts praised John Elwyn for his ‘quiet sincerity’ and for the feeling conveyed in his paintings of ‘love and compassion for humanity and consciousness of the relations of men and women to nature, buildings, and everyday life in Wales.’
Though John Elwyn trained at Carmarthen, Bristol and the Royal College of Art, and subsequently lived and worked in Hampshire until his death in 1997, he painted subjects that reflect his Welsh heritage and empathy with the Welsh people, their language and social traditions.
Like John Constable in Suffolk, Samuel Palmer in Kent and Graham Sutherland in Pembrokeshire, John Elwyn found continued inspiration in a familiar environment. His paintings present a peaceful vision of life in rural Ceredigion. For seven decades he drew upon his wide experience of the working life of the farmyards and cattle pastures of the Teifi and Ceri valleys.
His friend, the painter Sir Kyffin Williams RA wrote:
‘John Elwyn was a real artist who knew what he wanted to do and quietly settled down to do it. What he achieved was work of such merit that it will take its place permanently in the artistic history of Wales. John was a clear-headed man who looked at his own world of Wales and loved what he saw. He loved the people, the farms, the chapels, the winding roads and the small and tidy fields and guided by this obsession he gave to Wales something of great worth.’
John Elwyn remained true to his convictions. He may have painted landscapes of the mind, but they have a place in reality, based as they are on real places and real situations. The paintings reflect his own experiences and as such are imprinted with his warmth of personality and reverence.
William John Elwyn Davies
Adpar, Newcastle Emlyn 1916 – Southampton 1997
Read Karen Westendorf’s review of the exhibition here
Admission to the School of Art Gallery is free. It is open Monday to Friday 10:00 – 17:00.