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An important archive of letters written by Sir Kyffin Williams have been entered for our April 27th Welsh Sale.

The letters are mainly correspondences between the artist and his dear friends Anwen Carey Evans and husband David Lloyd 'Bengy' Carey-Evans, includes over 30 x letters on Sir Kyffin's headed paper from his Llanfairpwll home, together with many doodles, additional postcards, additional greeting cards and other related ephemera. The correspondences span twenty-years from 1984 and show a close relationship between the Carey-Evans family and the epileptic batchelor Sir Kyffin. In the letters Kyffin often confided in the couple about his health, depression, incidences at home, state of mind, artistic woes, the art world and his grievances. He also writes of his pending Knighthood which he describes as his 'gonging'. With regards to depression and ill-health, Sir Kyffin writes candidly of his feelings on several occasions, notably ‘...I have been ill ever since you went away. Down in Cardiganshire I couldn’t speak, eat or sleep as a huge depression came on me’. Returned to doctor visits and concerns from neighbours, ‘…weak as a kitten, haven’t painted for over 3 months...’ Many of the letters thank the couple for their caring hospitality and their '...soothing effect...' and good food on occasions when he had visited. Within several of the letters Sir Kyffin is scathing of the governing of Welsh public art particularly at the National Museum of Wales, and he berates the lack of a Welsh National Gallery. In a letter dated 27th October 1999, '...things were rather ruined today when I got the information from the Museum saying not only chairman of the Arts Committee, for which he is in no way qualified, but he is in charge of education as well. How can art possibly flourish in Wales if people qualify on the golf course? As a fully qualified artist it makes me sick….’ Sir Kyffin was famously concerned for the direction of the modern art world, within these letters he references controversial exhibitions by Tracey Emin, Damien Hirst and Mark Riley and in particular a British Art Show exhibition that travelled to Cardiff in 1996 (within a copy of a letter to the then Director of the National Museum of Wales), he writes '...alarmed of the reports of the current exhibition in the museum…art lovers have been deeply shocked by what is on show….police have been called in’ and regarding the keeper of art’s decision to have such an exhibition ‘…lack of responsibility and judgement together with an insensitivity that is disturbing, especially as we have been trying to bring more people to the galleries. Can you assure me that no similar exhibitions are shown in the Museum? If I do not have such an assurance, I cannot see that I am able to continue as a member of the Committee. I must now insist that my two Welsh landscapes that hang in the Galleries be taken off the walls immediately'.

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Lot 268

Sir Kyffin Williams letters


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