The Retrospective has been taking shape in our heads for more than two years. I recall an initial discussion with Peter about how the exhibition and book might be subdivided in such ways as would make sense of my work to those coming to it for the first time. The genre paintings of still-life and landscape would have areas/chapters to themselves, though landscape would later be titled ‘places’ for the sake of clarity. The paintings and drawings made in series, The Temptations of Solitude and the Mari Lwyd, would have their own enclosed spaces in the gallery, as would the maquettes. The slighter wider theme of the generally ‘miraculous’, including paintings on the themes of Kevin and the Blackbird, Hervé and the Wolf, Elijah and the Raven and the three Annunciation paintings, would group together at one end of the gallery space. Green George, the largest painting I’ve made to date, would greet visitors as they moved from the smaller exhibition space known as the ‘annex’ into the Gregynog Gallery. This overall plan survived intact as we progressed through the many stages of preparing for the retrospective, and is the way the exhibition appears today.
Showing the books I’ve done in collaboration with Nicolas and Frances McDowall in the annex as a precursor to the main event in the Gregynog, seemed appropriate in what is, after all, the National Library of Wales. We’ve used copies of my Old Stile books from the institute’s collection to display in glass cases alongside original artworks, workbooks and the special edition of my most recent OSP book, Peter Shaffer’s play Equus.
Above: once in the the main gallery, the chiaroscuro ‘On the Mountain’ beckons from the left, drawing visitors to the Mari Lwyd section of the exhibition, while ‘Flight of Swallows Over the Field of Gold’ leads the way right to paintings on the theme of ‘the miraculous’. From a directional audio hood out of sight above visitors’ heads as they enter the gallery, Damian Walford Davies’ rich voice can be heard reciting his poem ‘Green George’.
To be continued.