Curated by Dr. Ceri Thomas, this exhibition will celebrate the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery’s first two full-time curators and their pioneering leadership of the gallery’s exhibitions, collections, and acquisitions programmes in the 1950s and 1960s.
Paintings and drawings will include works by Alfred Janes, Josef Herman, John Elwyn, Gwen John, J D Innes, Paul Nash, Kyffin Williams, Glenys Cour, Ivon Hitchens, Karel Appel, Sam Francis, Ceri and Frances Richards, Evan Walters and sculptures by Jonah Jones, Ron Lawrence, and Peter Nicholas — all drawn from the gallery’s permanent collection.
The exhibition will focus on the key roles’ curators David Bell (1915-1959) and Kathleen Armistead (1902-1971) played in establishing and developing Wales’ contemporary art scene. Bell and Armistead’s notable achievements included the advancement of a Welsh environmentalism and Welsh and European modernism in Wales, as well as the elevation of the gallery’s local and national status.
Drawing upon his practice as a painter, having trained at the Royal College of Art, and his Arts Council of Great Britain experience in Cardiff (1946-51), David Bell, during his Swansea period, wrote regularly for the South Wales Evening Post, produced the first Gallery Guide to the Collection (published posthumously) and established the Association of the Friends of Glynn Vivian in 1958. Bell particularly promoted contemporary Welsh and Wales-based artists such as the Dunvant-born Ceri Richards, the Warsaw-born Josef Herman based in Ystradgynlais and John Elwyn born on the Cardiganshire-Carmarthenshire border.
Kathleen Armistead, the Glynn Vivian’s first female curator, began her career as a museum curator in England (1943-59), having initially trained as a pianist and studied the social history of music. Because of her particular interest in sculpture, ceramics, and abstraction, she expanded the acquisitions programme’s ambition to include bronzes by Barbara Hepworth and Jacob Epstein, ceramics by Lucie Rie, and two-dimensional works by international artists Karel Appel, Sam Francis, and Henry Moore.