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MARY GRIFFITHS

6th to 28th May, 2017 Open Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm or by appointment


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Over the last fifty years all the deeply committed painters I’ve encountered have had an irrepressible urge to paint. Nothing can stop them. As with any other addiction painting is the first thing they think about after waking up. This compulsion has nothing to do with career, conceit, money, fame, or any other triviality, but it has everything to do with the personal obsession to make gradual, incremental discoveries and improvements. This ambition, it seems to me, is the essential ingredient in producing accomplished and original work. And you can spot it a mile off because nothing approaches the natural authority of a painting done because it needed to be made.

Mary Griffiths has always had this unstoppable drive. During her long evolution she has kept advancing, perennially seeing the familiar anew. Recent pictures are her most sophisticated yet, and involve imagery with a different aura and pace to previous works. Small and silent these paintings of faces are not easily classifiable and draw you in to concentrate on them uniquely, as though eventually they might impart whispered confidences. Dealing with inexpressible subtleties they are not pictures that shout for attention. There is scarcely any evidence in them of modern life and they are not portraits, or even in all cases depictions of individuals. Instead, they are figures detached from the world of crude surfaces and hard facts and seem painted for the purpose of revealing an inner grace and contentment. They are also subjects painted with tenderness: the closer one gets to them the more intimate one becomes with their fragile beauty.

Another notable characteristic about these private heads is their apparent familiarity. They emit coded signals from afar in the history of art. This is reflected in the way these panels are painted. Their worn surfaces simulate those of well-loved and revered religious works. They bear scratches, scuffs and unfinished areas suggestive of having been used for devotional purposes, just as icons were handled and kissed, preciously packed and carried from one place to another by their earliest owners. Looks on faces are also reminiscent of characters in history and mythological works representing states of thought and grace. Additionally, corrections to drawn outlines and silhouettes recall the techniques of those masters who revised as they inched towards a conclusion that, somehow, always remained elusive.

Like the best of modernistic poetry, these pictures stay tantalisingly beyond the reach of final explanation. They won’t be tied down, with the result that they reward for as long as you have time to look.

David Lee
Editor: The Jackdaw

 

By the artist, Mary Griffiths:

Iím appropriating the words used by my beloved Dylan Thomas in introducing the edition of his Collected Poemsí 1952.  This exhibition brings together work over a period of years.   I work and rework paintings constantly but if I went on reworking pieces I feel I’d have no time to try to paint others. 

Thomas "read somewhere of a shepherd who, when asked why he made, from within fairy rings, ritual observances to the moon to protect his flocks, replied: 'I'd be a damn’ fool if I didn’t!' ". These (paintings) with all their crudities, doubts and confusions are made for the love of Man and in praise of God and I’d be a damned fool if they weren’t.

 

1956
Born Wales
1974-75
Dyfed College of Art
1975-78
Croydon College of Art
Taught by John Bellany R.A., Bruce McLean and Gus Cummins
2000
Member of Royal Cambrian Academy (invited by Sir Kyffin Williams RA)
   
SOLO EXHIBITIONS
   
1987
ADC Theatre, Park St., Cambridge
1988
Clare College, Cambridge
1989
Thaxted Festival
1991
St. John’s Gallery, Bury St. Edmunds
1993/95/97/
00/02/04/07
Chappel Galleries, Essex
1998/2001
Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff
2017
Chappel Galleries, Essex
 
MIXED SHOWS
 
1987/88/92/
93/94/97/99
Eastern Open, King’s Lynn, Norfolk
1988/94
‘Drawings For All’, Gainsborough’s House, Sudbury and Regional Tour
1989/94
Haylett’s Gallery, Colchester
1990
‘The Drawing Show’, Contact Gallery, Norwich
Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Mall Galleries, London
Royal Society of British Artists, London
Sunday Times/Singer Friedlander Watercolour Competition, London and Glasgow
New Gallery, Swansea
1991/94/95/
97
Bow House Gallery, Barnet, London
1991
‘Modern Contemporaries’, Chappel Galleries, Essex
‘Britain’s Painter’, Westminster Galleries, London
1992-97
Chappel Galleries, Essex
1989
Royal College of Art, London "The London Group"
1992-97
Chappel Galleries, Colchester (Mixed
Exhibitions)
1992
BP National Portrait Competition, National Portrait Gallery, London
‘The Human Form’, Conservatory Gallery, Cambridge
1993
Leicestershire Art Collection
1993/94
Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales
1994/95
Hunting Art Prize, R.C.A. London
1994
Spring Collection, East West Gallery, London
Wales Art Fair, Cardiff
1995
‘Drawing Near’ – Touring Show, Fife
Hunting Art Prizes: R.C.A. London and Swansea
‘Making a Mark’, Mall Galleries, London
‘Showcase Wales’, Y Tabernacl, M.O.M.A. Wales
1995/96
Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff
John Martin Gallery, London
1996
‘The Human Form’, Mall Galleries, London
‘Human Interest’, Bury St. Edmunds Art Gallery
Conservatory Gallery, Cambridge
Guest: Royal Society of British Artists
Poetry Commission, Prospero Poets, Clarion Press
The Gallery, Cork St., London
1997
‘On A Grand Scale’, John Martin Gallery, London
Chelsea Art Fair, London
Contemporary Welsh Art, Hong Kong
1996/97/98
Langham Fine Art, Bury St. Edmunds
1996/97/98/
99/00
Art Fair, Islington, London
1999
Martin Tinney Gallery at Cork St, London
2000
British Art Fair, London
“Gold Medal Winners Exhibition, National Eisteddfod”
2001
Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales
Langham Fine Art, Bury St. Edmunds
Martin Tinney Gallery at Cork St., London
2001/02/03
Royal Cambrian Academy Summer Show
2002/03
Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff
2006/07
Wales Portrait Award and Tour
SUMMER & WINTER EXHIBITIONS
2000-17
Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy, Wales
MOMA, Machynlleth, Wales
Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff, Wales
Lime Tree Gallery ,  Long Melford, Suffolk
Bristol Gallery, Hotwell Rd. Bristol
Attic Gallery, Swansea, Wales
Lion Street Gallery,  Hay on Wye, Herefordshire
 
PRIZES
 
1988
Lady Evershed Drawing Prize, Eastern Open
1991
Highly Commended, Britain’s Painters, London
1992
Highly Commended – Painting, Eastern Open
1993
Highly Commended – Drawing, Eastern Open
1994
Highly Commended – Hunting Competition
First Prize, ‘Drawings For All’, Suffolk
Gold Medal in Fine Art, National Eisteddfod of Wales
1995
First Prize, Hunting Art Prizes, R.C.A. London
1997
Lady Evershed Drawing Prize, Eastern Open
1999
Painting Prize, Eastern Open

 

 

 
 

 

 
 
 
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