KYFFIN AT THE SENEDD and KYFFIN WILLIAMS: THE ARTIST AND AMGUEDDFA CYMRU
Having lived to 88 years old, Kyffin Williams spent 60 of those developing, cultivating and crafting a style and tradition for which his artwork will long be recognised. Moreover, he dedicated his life to giving Wales the best possible chance at succeeding artistically, establishing him as one of Wales’ leading benefactors. No surprise then, that the year of the centenary of his birth will be commemorated.
The Anglesey-bred artist’s work predominantly depicts cottages and hill farms, sheepdogs and small villages, distilling the essence and, as he described, “feeling” of rural Wales. We might argue, based on the consistent and rising success of institutions such as the Arts Council Of Wales, that Williams was, at least in part, responsible for Wales’ current credibility on an international arts scale.
The National Museum stands as a beacon of cultural significance in Wales, so it should be no surprise to Williams admirers that it is hosting a tribute exhibition for the artist. Forming supportive relationships with Welsh art galleries was an integral part of Williams’ life, his knighthood in 1999 honouring his valuable contribution to Welsh arts. Now, this influences the theme for The National Museum’s exhibition, which is dedicated to the relationship between the artist and the museum itself.
Moreover, Kyffin Williams: The Artist And Amgueddfa Cymru is not the only Cardiff-based tribute to the most esteemed Welsh landscape painter of the 20th century. The Senedd, in partnership with the Sir Kyffin Williams Trust, hosts an exhibition which promises rarely seen Williams paintings and prints from private collections, as well as archive footage of the artist. Considering the consistency of Williams’ style, it will be interesting and invaluable for audiences who are familiar with his art to take a walk around, absorbing the new yet ever-familiar.
In the year of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s would-be 100th birthday, the Wales Millennium Centre presents to the public Nelson Mandela: The Centenary Exhibition. A tribute to a man whose commitment to humanity and equality saw no limits, the exhibition weaves through Mandela’s turbulent life. From young freedom fighter in the African National Congress, to man-on-the-run, to 27-year prisoner, to negotiator and peacemaker in the transition from apartheid-South Africa to a democratic republic, the exhibition promises to give a well-rounded representation of Mandela’s influence in not only South Africa but the world over.
The exhibition comes at a time where it is important to be reminded of the value of diversity and accepting difference. Mandela is quoted saying, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Famously, Mandela learnt to speak Afrikaans, the language of his oppressor, whilst a prisoner on Robben Island, Cape Town, so that he could understand the guards better. This exhibition hopes show this humble approach to equality and illustrate how it accompanied all his decisions, both political and personal. Throughout his struggle and success, Mandela remembered the value of difference within unity, which is evident now in details such as the four languages in the South African national anthem, and the country having 11 official languages.
The exhibition’s counterpart at the Southbank Centre in London was reviewed as a faithful communication of a remarkable story. What can be difficult with a story as well-known as Mandela’s is giving a fresh take, lifting the history out of the history book and transforming it into an exhibition. Thankfully, rather than simply providing a visual timeline, the exhibition seems to have satisfied people’s desire to learn about Mandela’s personality as well has his history. Moreover, the extent to which Mandela’s personality shone through his political career, rather than being a separate entity. We’ll have to head to Cardiff Bay and learn for ourselves.
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Fri 5 Oct – Sun 18 Nov. Admission: free. www.wmc.org.uk