portraits of buildings


Welsh Chapel – 82 x 62 cm – 2004

Peter and I spent time last week at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester, enjoying the exhibition of Stanley Spencer paintings made for the Sandham Memorial Chapel, currently on tour while conservation work is undertaken on the building. On the way back to Aberystwyth we spent a night with our friends Nicolas and Frances at their home in the Wye Valley. (More on that in a later post.) When I walked into their living-room on Friday afternoon, I was taken aback by a painting I’d forgotten they own. Dating from 2004, it’s of a Welsh chapel, and as such is a quite rare example of a large painting by me of a single building without a still-life incorporated into the foreground. (Most of the building portraits I make are on a small scale, and square in format.) I don’t believe I’ve ever shown it here at the Artlog, so now seems a good moment to do so. Nicolas and Frances have quite a collection of my work, and it was lovely to be reminded that this painting is among them.

In 2004 I had an exhibition titled Prospects of Wales at the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff, in which there were a good many of my more typical, smaller Welsh building portraits.

10 thoughts on “portraits of buildings

  1. These are just lovely Clive I love the red/brown earthiness of the cylindrical ‘dovecot'(?) and the one with the red house clinging to the side of the hillside. Fabulous work. jac x

  2. Yup! I love them all too! If I have a favourite it is the one with the man in. (Sorry, I don’t know the title) May I ask: do you see them more objectively now that time has passed? Do you see them as though painted by another person? Having said that, even so, do you find that if you look into one particular area or brushstroke in any one of the paintings, you can remember the exact music or play, or whatever you were listening to, whilst painting (birdsong, a car motor etc.etc.) or more probably, maybe you remember the difficulties you went through to perfect the painting. They can be time capsules can’t they?


    • I think that it is possible to be more objective as time passes, when the white hot heat of the creating has diminished. It does seem as if they were painted by someone else. I’m constantly reinventing the way I work, questioning myself and finding new things that engage me as a painter. When I revisit these I’m pleased with the way they look, but rather surprised I feel that way. (I always expect to be disappointed!) I can stand at a distance and admire the things that I recognise as having been difficult to achieve at the time… though the effort doesn’t show… and yet I seem to have forgotten how I went about making the paintings.

      Do I recall how I felt when I made them? No, not really. Certainly not when viewing them in reproduction. But in 2011 when I saw the assembled Mari Lwyd drawings hanging in that specially constructed space in the Gregynog Gallery of the National Library, all the grief hit like a wave breaking over me, and I was almost unendurably sad in front of them. I had to limit my time spent there.

      • That’s very interesting, the execution of those drawings must have been like a form of exorcism, a mental necessity which probably kept you sane. I have one or two pieces I have done in dark times, and find they contribute to a healing process. On the other hand they can also whisk you back to where you don’t want to be.xL

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