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.

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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.


‘Paper-cut Progress’ or ‘Dicing and Splicing With Peter Lloyd!’


Making drawings of planned paper-cuts is all well and good, but it’s only once the cutting begins that you really get to grips with the challenges. Figuring out how to make everything hold together by ensuring ‘connection’ points is a learning curve, especially when the scalpel slices a little too far and your long-laboured-over sheet of filigree falls apart. (I should probably just tape up the mistakes, but the obsessive/purist in me takes the upper hand, and I always start over again.) However, I’m getting more proficient as the project advances, and it has to be said that my love of ‘negative space’ is a strength when dealing with these images made only of black, connected shapes, against a white ground.

Peter Lloyd is a force of nature, and his scalpel is flying over the cutting board.


Here is an album of the finished component cuts to date, both Peter Lloyd’s and mine. (We haven’t started ‘stitching’ them together yet.) Interesting how our styles have become unified by the paper-cutting technique.


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Peter Lloyd writes of his image above:

‘It’s a hairy beast, representing our animalistic tendencies. It could also be on fire, representing passion and the ill advised hot headedness that can sometimes end in a regretful text or photo. Lots of duality going on- the beast is a conjoined twin, male and female. It’s a lovely/nasty issue, hence the thorns of the beautiful rose. The beast holds a mirror up to the sext and all that is reflected is bad luck and break up; the 13, the broken circle (or possibly a wedding ring?) and at the base of the handle is a skull, contained in the shape of a house- one slip could destroy the happy home! The edge of the mirror has a black and white chequered pattern, for who hasn’t lived a life without some sort of chequered past? We all dip through our moments of black and white…’






Peter Lloyd at work, sharing a table at Southampton Solent School of Art, Design and Fashion with the wonderful Charles Shearer, who’s busy making a block for a print.


From Peter Lloyd’s notebook: