Oriel Wrecsam - Oriel 1 Gallery
A Child's Christmas in Wales
1 November 2014 - 17 January 2015
In 1978 I was given a beautifully illustrated book for Christmas. I was a bit old for picture books, being just about to finish at primary school, but it managed to capture my imagination. It was the perfect blend of visual writing and magical drawings. Edward Ardizzone, one of the greatest illustrators of the 20th century, had added a nostalgic vision to Dylan Thomas' highly evocative and characteristically rich descriptive text.
At the suggestion of BBC producer Lorraine Davies, Thomas wrote a talk on 'Memories of Christmas' in 1945, this was followed in 1947 by an essay for Picture Post called "Conversation about Christmas ". Then in 1949/50 Dylan Thomas took elements of both pieces of writing and sold 'A Child's Memories of a Christmas in Wales' to American magazine Harper's Bazaar. In 1953 he recorded a version of it and this sold modestly in the USA at first, before becoming his most popular prose piece. A year after Thomas' death in 1953, the book was first published.
The exhibition looks at elements of this experience as a reader, reading the memory of a writer, and then recollecting the reading in later life. A Child's Christmas hints at the tensions of the festive period, of a social framework that is viewed through rose tinted spectacles. There are memories of happy times invoked with sadness in the recollection
The artists have either responded directly to text, or in a more subtle way a connection has been made for the reader with nostalgia, homesickness, the longing for something that is no longer there: Bitter / Sweet.