Will Roberts RCA Memorial Exhibition - A National Library of Wales touring exhibition
National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff, 8 September - 2 December 2001
"I cannot think of anywhere I would like to paint - or to live - in preference to Wales"
A retrospective exhibition of work by one of Wales' most popular and respected artists of the 20th century, Will Roberts, will open at the National Museum & Gallery, 2001.
Showcasing paintings, drawings and sketchbooks, chosen by the artist himself, works on display includes a small selection of pictures from his family's collection and landscapes, providing an intimate testimonial of the artist's love for his family, Wales and its people, in particular his adopted home, Neath.
Born in Ruabon, the family moved to Neath when he was a child. He was an artist for more than 70 years and was painting up until his death last March at the age of 92. The portrayal of figures, including his wife Phyllis (his main source of inspiration), and everyday life in Neath was his passion.
In the Sixties, inspired by the remains of the industrial landscape in Neath, Roberts undertook a series of large charcoal drawing of men at work in the local steel and tin plate mills, such as the Knoll Gardens and workers at the Neath Sheet and Galvanising Co. Ltd. His aim was not to record history but to return a sense of grace and respect to what was a dying craft.
Throughout his life Will Roberts was a churchman and a man of religious convictions. Studies for the Stations of the Cross (the series now hangs permanently at St David's Church, Neath) captures the artist faith and concern for truth in art and his ability to produce both powerful and spiritual images.
Unlike the artist Josef Herman, who became a friend and creative collaborator for many years, Roberts focused on the personal rather than the political and produced work that gave " dignity to the casual scene and make it memorable."