Some 200 guests attended the opening of the exhibition at Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw, Llanbedrog, Pwllheli on 26 January, many of whom had travelled considerable distances to be there. Following an introduction by Gwyn Jones, the gallery’s director, the exhibition was opened by David Townsend Jones, who spoke on behalf both of Jonah’s family and Scene & Word. For his full speech, during which he announced the publication of the new paperback edition of The Gregynog Journals, click here.
Highlights of the speech included:
- Tributes to the skill, hard work and dedication of the team at Plas Glyn-y-Weddw. David presented gifts of The Gregynog Journals to Gwyn Jones (director), Iwan Hughes (museum curator) and Nia Roberts (contemporary arts curator).
- Appreciation of the extraordinary array of talented artists brought together by the gallery for the Connection element of the exhibition. In part this involved artists with personal and professional connections with Jonah: Meic Watts, Howard Bowcott, Claire Langdown, David Nash and Sarina de Majo. It also included other artists – Vivienne Rickman Poole, Aled Prichard-Jones, Richard Higlett, Simon Callery, Menna Angharad, Chris Bird-Jones, Rob Piercy, Janet Smith, Rachel Stewart and Bill Swann – described by David as having “some historical or thematic link to Jonah … who all found a way to express, through their imagery, their love of this part of Wales”.
- Thanks to those who had provided conservation and restoration skills and sheer hard labour to bring previously damaged or degraded pieces up to exhibition standard: Mark Sawyer at the Lampeter campus of the University of Wales Trinity St David (two sculptures: Bethel I (Jacob at Peniel) and Bethel II); and Owen Luetchford and Stacey Poultney at the Architectural Glass Centre of the Swansea College of Art (the dalle de verre window from the former Catholic church in Morfa Nefyn, kindly loaned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wrexham).
- Thanks to the many collectors, both private and public, who had loaned works to the exhibition.
- A particular tribute to Portmeirion for generously sponsoring the exhibition catalogue, providing sufficient funds to enable a permanent volume of the highest design and production standard to be published.
- An announcement of the decision by the trustees of the Diocese of Wrexham to have all the windows and the mosaic at the former church in Morfa Nefyn expertly removed for eventual relocation to other buildings in the diocese. This will form part of a separate story, or a series of stories, when more details are known.
After the opening, Peter Jones gave an illustrated talk about the life and career of Jonah Jones. This was followed by a bilingual group discussion, led by Gwyn Jones, about personal memories of Jonah, involving Robin Llywelyn, the managing director of Portmeirion; David Sherlock, chairman of GTA England, who was Jonah’s assistant director at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin from 1974–78; and sculptor Meic Watts, who during the late 1980s shared a workshop with Jonah. Both events attracted audiences of about a hundred.
The exhibition will run for six weeks until 17th March and will include a programme of related events involving some of the Connection artists:
- Family Drop-in Workshops run by Richard Higlett, inspired by Jonah’s calligraphic works
- A calligraphy workshop with Janet Smith
- A trip to Portmeirion for a guided walk with Rob Piercy
For further details about the exhibition and the various activities, visit www.oriel.org.uk
Photographs: Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw