Art Strides Forward at Redhouse

Art Class / Life Drawing / 56 Group Wales exhibition

The visual arts in Redhouse are taking significant strides forward this term with not only a new exhibition by celebrated artists’ collective, the 56 Group Wales, but also a regular art class on Thursday nights and life drawing classes, which will hopefully become a regular fixture.

The 56 Group Wales was formed originally in 1956, with the aim of “promoting Welsh Modernist art and artists”. The original collective included some of the leading Wales based artists of that era, including Arthur Giardelli, Heinz Koppel and others who were also instrumental in establishing the Dowlais and Merthyr Artists’ Settlements during the 1940s.

The Dowlais and Merthyr Artists’ Settlements provided classes for local residents within the community. It is then perhaps fitting that today, we again see the members of the 56 Group Wales exhibiting in Merthyr (both at Redhouse and Cyfarthfa Castle), with not only The College Merthyr Tydfil bringing many groups of students to see and study the exhibition, but two other visual art classes for the community beginning.

The regular Thursday evening art class is a “beginners’ class” but open to all levels. The class is run by myself and focuses on “colour theory”, with Agored Cymru accreditation. Unfortunately, due to demand, with almost 40 people joining the class and despite a second earlier session being created, we are unable to take any more new students this year. The enthusiasm has been overwhelming.

The Life Drawing sessions are run by artist, Tracey Rees as an independent initiative, and again the response has been hugely popular. The first session was well attended and the second is almost fully booked, so anyone interested in future sessions is advised to contact Tracey to make sure they get an opportunity to participate in future.


56 Group Wales, featuring (above) Ken Elias and Peter Spriggs.

Amongst various other achievements and exhibitions, Ken Elias (above) and John Selway (below) were included in a major exhibition in 2013 at the National Museum of Wales, as two of only four artists “with connections to Wales” in an exhibition titled Pop and Abstract, alongside work by Peter Blake, Alan Davie, David Hockney, Bridget Riley and others. Ken Elias’s artwork was used as the main advertising image for the exhibition. We look forward to Ken’s one person exhibition with us here at Redhouse next year.


56 Group Wales featuring (above) John Selway, Martyn Jones and Carol Hiles.

Together with being a member of the 56 Group Wales and a leading Welsh artist, who shows regularly in New York and Miami, Martyn Jones also teaches at The College Merthyr Tydfil, and will be exhibiting with us here at Redhouse in 2018.


56 Group Wales member, Robert Alwyn Hughes (above) will also be joining Ken Elias and Martyn Jones, by exhibiting a one person show in Redhouse (during 2017). Two of Robert’s paintings, referencing Dowlais Top, where he was raised, are on show at Redhouse on a semi-permanent basis, hanging above the main staircase. As a child Robert also attended the Dowlais Artists’ Settlement, mentioned earlier, where he came into contact with some of the key artists from Welsh Art History.

Gus Payne


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