Cymraeg | English

History

John Kyffin Williams, the second of two sons, was born near Llangefni on the 9th May, 1918. His early years were spent away from Anglesey after his father was made a bank manager in Chirk. The family later lived briefly in Beaumaris and then near Pentrefelin on the LlÅ·n.

After working for a short time with a firm of land agents in Pwllheli, Kyffin enlisted into the 6th Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers (Territorial Army). Commissioned a Second Lieutenant he served in Northern Ireland and Wrexham but was invalided out of the army in 1941 due to his epilepsy. Kyffin Williams then studied at the Slade School of Fine Art: “I was told I was fit for nothing else.” He thought himself the worst student present with no ability for drawing. He claimed that the drawing professor compared his nudes unfavourably to oak trees.

In 1944 Kyffin became Senior Art Master at Highgate School in London and taught there for thirty years, but frequently returned to north Wales to paint its mountains, farms and people. In 1968 he gained a Winston Churchill Fellowship to visit the region of Welsh settlement in Patagonia. In 1974 he came back to live on Anglesey, becoming the best-loved Welsh artist of
his generation.

Kyffin Williams’s first solo exhibition Welsh Landscape Painting was held at P&D Colnaghi & Co in London in 1948. Thereafter he exhibited regularly at galleries including the Leicester and the Thackeray galleries in London, the Howard Roberts and the Albany galleries in Cardiff, and the Tegfryn Gallery in Menai Bridge.

Kyffin was President of the Royal Cambrian Academy inConwy from 1969 to 1976 and again from 1992. He was awarded many honours, but his election as a Royal Academician in 1974 remained the achievement in which he took most pride. He was named a Knight Commander of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours List in 1999.

Sir Kyffin Williams died on the 1st September 2006 and is buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s Parish Church, Llanfair-yng-Nghornwy, where his great-grandfather served as rector.

“Most landscape painters react to their own country more strongly than to any other, and I am happy to remain in Wales and paint my own particular part of it. In Anglesey the white farms and cottages welcome me, while across the straits I can see those wonderful mountains and am able to take advantage of them whenever I wish to do so”.