Articles by Huw David Jones
The Welsh landscape – and particularly the mountain vastness of the north – has long provided a source of artistic inspiration. Yet too often artists have ignored its human realities, and used the land instead as a vehicle for defining abstract ideas like beauty or divine order. This has distorted the image of Wales, helping fashion the kind of quaint, picture-postcard views associated with tourist gift shops and dinky-do miniature railways.
Fortunately, there is nothing quaint about the work of Peter Prendergast. The Abertridwr-born painter, who spent much of his career working in the slate-quarry districts of Snowdonia, shows us not what the landscape looks like, rather what it feels like to be there: rain lashing against the face; squally wind blurring our vision; the soul momentarily uplifted as light catches the blue slate roofs of houses in a distant valley.
Early in his career, Prendergast wrote in a letter to the Arts Council, “I doubt whether I can manage to paint a great picture of Wales, but I am going to have a good go at it during my lifetime”. The 40 paintings collected for exhibition at the Martin Tinney Gallery represent four decades of trying to achieve that goal. Sadly, there will be no more. Prendergast died suddenly last year, aged 61. He will be remembered as one of Wales’ greatest landscape painters.
Martin Tinney Gallery, Cardiff, from Fri 29 Feb to Sat 29 Mar 2008
This article was originally published in Buzz magazine.