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26 May 2014
Historic Paintings at auction






Studies of workers at Gowerton tinplate factory in Welsh Sale 


Paintings of tinplate workers by leading Welsh artist Ceri Richards, himself the son of a tinplate worker, highlight the Welsh Sale at Cardiff auctioneers Rogers Jones Co. 

Playwright, musician and poet Richards is regarded as one of the most important Welsh artists of the 20thcentury. The two paintings, which are together expected to realise in the region of £20,000 have been sent for sale by the family of the Welsh journalist, BBC Wales film maker, poet and friend of Ceri Richards, John Ormond Thomas.

The graphic, almost monochrome, paintings in mixed media were done in 1942 and show scenes on the factory floor. “Rollerman at Bosh with Doubler” (estimate £7,000-10,000) and “Tinplate Workers with Furnaceman Mopping His Brow” (£9,000-12,000) both appeared in the Welsh Arts Council Ceri Richard’s Memorial Exhibition, shown in Cardiff, Swansea and the Royal Cambrian Academy in Conwy, North Wales in 1973. The latter work was also shown at the Tate Gallery Ceri Richards Exhibition in 1981.

The rollerman’s job was to seize the red hot bars of wrought iron or steel from the furnaceman, run them through steam-powered rollers and then cool them in the bosh, a tank of cold water. After repeated rolling and heating in the furnace, the doubler was responsible for folding and compressing the plates in the squeezer. The pictures were probably done at Gowerton tinplate factory, where his father had worked.

Ceri Richards (1903-1971) was born in Dunvant, Swansea, and studied at the Swansea School of Art, subsequently winning a scholarship to attend the Royal College of Art. His first one-man exhibition was at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea in 1930 was Head of Painting at Cardiff School of Art during from 1940 to 1944, but spent the rest of his life in London.

He was appointed CBE in 1960, won the Gold Medal at the 1961 National Eisteddfod and the Einaudi Painting Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1962.

In 1964-5 he designed stained glass for Derby Cathedral and in 1965, he was commissioned to design the tabernacle and windows for the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament at Liverpool’s Roman Catholic cathedral.

John Ormond Thomas (1923-1999) was born in Dunvant, and studied philosophy and English at Swansea University, and at the same time studying painting at Swansea School of Art.

His early verse appeared under the name Ormond Thomas, with work by James Kirkup and John Bayliss in Indications (1943). The advice of poet Vernon Watkins that he should not publish until he was 30 made him hyper-critical of his own work.

In 1945, he joined the staff of Picture Post in London, returning to Swansea in 1949, working for a spell as a sub-editor on the South Wales Evening Post. In 1955 or 1957 he began a career with BBC Wales as a director and producer of documentary films. His films included studies of Ceri Richards, Kyffin Williams, Dylan Thomas, Alun Lewis and R. S. Thomas.

Ormond returned to poetry in the mid-1960s, having destroyed much of his early work. He started publishing poems in the periodical, Poetry Wales, while his first major volume, “Requiem and Celebration”, was published in 1969. His reputation was enhanced in 1973 by the appearance of Definition of a Waterfall and his inclusion in Penguin Modern Poets. A volume of selected poems was published in 1987.

His friendships with Dylan Thomas, Gwyn Thomas, Ceri Richards, Graham Sutherland, Daniel Jones, Kyffin Williams, were founded on mutual artistic respect.

The two paintings will be on public view alongside almost 350 lots of Welsh art prior to the sale on Friday (May 23) from 1-8pm and on the morning of the sale from 9-10.30am. For further information, please contact the auctioneer on 02920 708125 pr ben.rogersjones@rogersjones.co.uk.


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