Romancing Wales


John Piper, (1903 -1992) Llanthony Abbey, 1941, oil on panel, National Library of Wales © Estate of John Piper / DACS

My partner, Peter Wakelin, is the guest curator for the forthcoming exhibition, Romanticism in the Welsh Landscape, at MOMA Machynlleth. The exhibition will run from 19 March to 18 June.


John Elwyn, (1916 – 1997), The Stillness of Roots, 1946, private collection.

With over 60 works on the theme of Romantic and Neo-Romantic landscape dating from the late eighteenth century to the present, it’s the most substantial exhibition MOMA has yet produced. For close to a year Peter has been tracking down works in public and private collections across the UK, and with the assistance of the MOMA team has arranged the extensive loans that have been brought together at Machynlleth for Romanticism in the Welsh Landscape. He has also been able to draw on MOMA’s substantial holdings of paintings by Welsh artists and artists working in Wales.


Thomas Jones (1742-1803), The Southern Extremity of Carnedde Mountain in Radnorshire, 1795, LLGC/NLW


Charles Shearer (1956— ), Towards Snowdon from Penbryn Quarries, 2016, gouache on paper, courtesy of the artist


During a painting trip to Wales, Charles Shearer puts finishing touches to Towards Snowdon from Penbryn Quarries while staying with Peter and me at Ty Isaf.


Eleri Mills, (1955— ), Tirlun II – Landscape II, paint, hand stitching and appliqué on fabric, private collection.

hicks-jenkins 024.jpg

Clive Hicks-Jenkins, (1951 – ), The Barbarian Brought Down by a Lioness from The Temptations of Solitude series, 2003, Tabernacle Collection, MOMA Machynlleth.

There is a publication, Romancing Wales, written to accompany the exhibition, in which Peter emphasises the key role the landscapes of Wales have played in the Romantic and Neo-Romantic traditions, a phenomenon largely ignored in what’s previously been claimed as an English movement, but that he convincingly posits should more rightly be seen as a British one. He writes:

‘I love Welsh landscapes, and I love landscape-based art, so it was a pleasure to come up with ideas about how to approach a show with something fresh to say. The idea the Lamberts and Richard Mayou liked best was an exploration that I had been mulling over for some years of the role of the Welsh landscape in the development of Romanticism in visual art. While I was Director of Collections at Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales Nick Thornton curated the impressive Wales Visitation: Poetry, Romanticism and Myth in Art, but I was sure there was plenty still to explore. Romanticism in the Welsh Landscape, as we have called the MOMA exhibition, develops an argument that Wales has had a key role to play in Romantic landscape art. It’s a story worth telling both in its own right and as a corrective to the over-emphasis on Englishness and English artists in the history of British landscape painting.’

Romanticism in the Welsh Landscape

MOMA Machynlleth from 19 March to 18 June 2016. Open Monday–Saturday, 10am–4pm, admission free.

The accompanying publication, Romancing Wales by Peter Wakelin, is available from the gallery.


19 thoughts on “Romancing Wales

  1. Dear Clive This exhibition looks fascinating. Wish I could be there. Entranced by the images of Charles Shearer. I’ve looked at the museum website but am not finding anything about how to order the catalog. Is there a museum shop or someone I can contact to obtain ordering info? I’d appreciate. So happy that Peter has done this. I saw that you will be giving a talk too!

  2. I don’t travel anymore. And even if I did, I could not go to the exibition now, as I am in the middle of a very difficult period. But I would love to order the book, just to read Peter’s text. Even if not all the paintings, drawings and prints of the exhibition are in it’s pages. I have other books on Welsh Art written by Peter. I love them and read them again and again.

    Where must I write to order it? Is there an internet address for the gallery ?
    Sorry to be a nuissance

    • It’s good to know that on the other side of the world, there you are reading about the exhibition and enjoying it at a distance. I’ve been hearing Peter’s ideas about it for so long, I can hardly believe it’s actually nearly upon us. The opening is on Saturday!

  3. I follow you from Canada but will have the good fortune of staying in a cottage at Perrycroft near Ledbury in April- plan to revisit the gardens at Powis Castle- adding an outing to this amazing show will make for a very full but I think wonderful day

  4. Once again I am nostalgic for Wales. How I would love to see this exhibition. I love all John Piper’s work, also Charles Shearer’s painting. (l’m afraid I don’t know his work, but his colours are beautiful in this one.) Peter has such a good eye. It will be a spectacular experience. You lucky things who will get to see it! I will order the book, then Peter must come here and sign it (with you of course). XxL

  5. Long time no look and I’m greeted by Llanthony; memories crowd yet again, of the Abbey and you taking us there. Then scene after scene of Welsh wonders coupled with Peter’s words, lucky me; good timing before setting off to be a Tuesday student.
    Love and smiles
    B xxx

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