Williams, Kyffin, 1918-2006

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Williams, Kyffin, 1918-2006

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Kyffin Williams, artist, was born in Llangefni, Anglesey, 9 May 1918. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and articled to the land agents, Yale and Hardcastle, Pwllheli, 1936-1939. He served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers from 1937 to 1941, but on failing an army medical examination because of his epilepsy he was advised to take up art by his doctor. Hence in 1941 he entered the Slade School of Fine Art, and from 1944 to 1973 was Senior Art Master at Highgate School in London. In 1968 he was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship to record the Welsh community in Patagonia.

He was elected President of the Royal Cambrian Academy from 1969 to 1976 and again from 1992; an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1970, and a Royal Academician in 1974. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the University Colleges of Swansea (1989), Bangor (1991) and Aberystwyth (1992). In 1973 he was made an Honorary MA and in 1993 an Honorary Doctor of Letters of the University of Wales. Other honours bestowed on him were the OBE (1982), the Cymmrodorion Medal (1991), and a KBE (2000).

Exhibitions of his work have been held at the following London Galleries: Colnaghi's, the Leicester Galleries, Thackeray Gallery; also the Howard Roberts and Albany Galleries, Cardiff; Tegfryn Gallery, Menai Bridge; and other provincial venues.

His work is found in the collections of the Arts Council of Great Britain, National Museum of Wales, National Library of Wales, Welsh Arts Council, Royal Academy, Contemporary Art Society, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, art galleries of Newport, Swansea, Hereford, Coventry, the Chantrey Bequest and very many private collections. A major retrospective exhibition was staged at the National Museum of Wales in 1987.

Kyffin Williams's autobiography, Across the Straits, was published in 1973, and his second autobiographical volume, A Wider Sky, in 1991. Other works include Boyo Ballads (1995), Portraits (1996), The land and the sea (1998), Drawings (2001), Cutting images (2002), and Gwladfa Kyffin / Kyffin in Patagonia (2004). Since 1974 he lived and worked at Pwllfanogl on the edge of the Menai Straits below Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll, Anglesey. He died in September 2006.

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