In the autumn of 2015 Plas Glyn-y-Weddw was delighted to present an outstanding group of views in Snowdonia by John Piper from the collections of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales.
One of the most versatile British artists of the 20th century, John Piper was sent by the War Artists Advisory Committee to record the interior of Manod Mawr quarry near Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1943 where artworks from the National Gallery were being stored during the Second World War. The commission was abandoned because the dark conditions were not suitable for painting or drawing but the visit gave Piper an opportunity explore north Wales and sparked an intense period where he captured the complex, semi-abstract forms and rich colours of the mountains of Snowdonia.
He rented a succession of cottages and spent considerable time there between 1945 and 1956; two of them, at Maes Caradog and Pentre, situated in the awe inspiring glacial valley of Nant Ffrancon. For Piper, the result of this relocation was a shift from picturing the landscape of the lowland countryside to that of the sublime Welsh mountains. The large drawings and paintings that he made in Snowdonia are amongst his strongest works and tell of Piper's close understanding of the landscape and his connection with the rock and sky surrounding him.
The Snowdonia works shown at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw were a key part of a larger collection of Piper works purchased by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in 2014, with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Derek Williams Trust and the Art Fund (with a contribution from the Wolfs Foundation). Their tour to north Wales was generously funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This landmark exhibition at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, the first time for works from the national collection to be shown at the gallery, was made possible through a grant from the Cyfoeth Cymru Gyfan – Sharing Treasures scheme funded by the Welsh Government.