A Celebration of Welsh Contemporary Painting


This summer both Cyfarthfa Castle and Redhouse will be enhancing their arts programmes with ‘Making Your Mark on Merthyr’, an Arts Council of Wales funded project in partnership with Glasbury Arts, who have also provided financial support in addition to their expertise. The project will extend the work currently being delivered with extra participatory arts activities to encourage greater community engagement. Participants will work with professional artists, writers and musicians.


Cyfarthfa Castle: Welsh Contemporary Painting mixed exhibition

Contemporary Welsh Painting exhibitions will open in both Cyfarthfa Castle and Redhouse on 7th July 2017. Cyfarthfa Castle will host a mixed exhibition featuring contemporary Wales based artists, including those with an international reputation including; Shani Rhys James “arguably one of the most exciting and successful painters of her generation.” (BBC Arts), “internationally-renowned artist Brendan Stuart Burns” (Asthetica Magazine) and “Mary Lloyd Jones…one of Wales’ most popular landscape artists” (Wales Online), together with artists who have strong links to Merthyr: Martyn Jones, who teaches at The College Merthyr Tydfil and regularly exhibits both sides of the Atlantic; Joanne Smith, who also teaches at the College Merthyr; and myself, Gustavius Payne. Other established contemporary artists included in the mixed exhibition at Cyfarthfa Castle are Sally Mathews, Alan Salisbury, Veronica Gibson and Charles Burton, together with the talented John Darlison and Kate Freeman.

Shani Rhys-James; Eillio yn y bore (The Morning Shave); Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/eillio-yn-y-bore-the-morning-shave-153630

Redhouse: Ken Elias and children’s exhibitions

The exhibitions at Redhouse will be diverse in a totally different way to the Cyfarthfa Castle mixed exhibition, beginning with a combined showing of work by children, some of whom have been working with Merthyr Tydfil Libraries in partnership with local schools responding to the work of Cedric Morris and other children who have been working with the Josef Herman Foundation, in partnership with Glasbury Arts, Swansea University, Glyn Vivian Gallery and schools responding to the work of Josef Herman.

The second exhibition at Redhouse, closing the project’s exhibitions programme, will focus on the work of Ken Elias; “one of the leading artists living and working in South Wales” (Seren Books). Ken Elias, born and living in Glynneath, has exhibited widely, including a touring retrospective in 2009, alongside a publication by Seren Books, edited by Ceri Thomas; Ken Elias: Thin Partitions. In April 2013, Elias’ work was also included in a major exhibition at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff, titled Pop and Abstract. His contribution was one of only two by contemporary artists living in Wales.

Ken Elias; About 3 Paintings, mixed media, 92x102cm.

Performance Art

Together with visual arts exhibitions and activity, the project will allow Redhouse to extend both its Little Theatre (for adults) and Redhouse Performance Academy (for children). Young people in the Performance Academy will have the opportunity to work with professional tutors and technical support to create four Performance Academy concerts/events during the year, including autumn and Christmas. RPA performers will also be working in collaboration with Cyfarthfa Castle to create a promenade performance as part of an Open Day at Cyfarthfa Castle, helping bring the contemporary Welsh paintings to life.


Talks, demonstrations, workshops and performances

Following the exhibitions’ opening on 7th July at Cyfarthfa Castle and Redhouse, in August a two day series of events will begin, in the town centre and Cyfarthfa Castle and Park:

Friday 18th August will see an artist led, community participation pavement art project, to make a large scale painting in the town centre, on Penderyn Square (opposite Redhouse). Local painters are also invited to Penderyn Square to record the scene as a painting or drawing. There will also be artist talks and demonstrations in Redhouse.

On Saturday 19th August, an Open Day will be held at Cyfarthfa Castle and Park, including the promenade performances by Redhouse participants bringing the Contemporary Welsh paintings to life. Also taking place will be artist talks, demonstrations and workshops exploring different painting and mark-making techniques around the park.


Closing events

Cyfarthfa Castle will invite participants, who have successfully completed all five workshops, back in September to show the work that they have created, inspired by the challenges set at the end of the celebration weekend. A series of children and adults’ art workshops, led by professional artists, developing techniques learned in August’s event, will also take place at Cyfarthfa Castle.

Gus Payne


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