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New work by Peter Blake to go on display at National Museum Cardiff

Scene from Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, pencil and white body colour on paper © Courtesy of Sir Peter Blake
Scene from Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, pencil and white body colour on paper © Courtesy of Sir Peter Blake

One of National Museum Cardiff’s main art exhibitions in 2013 will reveal new, unseen work by Sir Peter Blake – one of the best-known and most popular artists working in Britain today. Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales is delighted to announce a brand new exhibition – Llareggub: Peter Blake illustrates Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood – which will be on display at the Museum in Cardiff from 23 November 2013 to 16 March 2014.

The exhibition will launch a year-long festival in 2014 – Dylan Thomas 100 – which will mark the centenary of the birth of the poet Dylan Thomas. It will feature over 200 watercolours, collages and drawings by Sir Peter Blake, of the many and varied characters that inhabit sleepy Llareggub – Dylan’s fictional town in his play Under Milk Wood (1953).

Blake’s illustration of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood or ‘play for voices’ is one of his longest outstanding ongoing projects. He continues to work on illustrating every character, dream, scene and location.

A longtime admirer of Dylan Thomas, Sir Peter Blake has always been fascinated by the radio play and remembers first hearing Under Milk Wood while at the Royal College. He said:

“I still love it and still play a recording of it at least twice a week. I get new things all the time, even now.”

Exhibited in public for the first time, Llareggub: Peter Blake illustrates Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood will feature portraits drawn in black and white pencil on tinted paper, watercolors illustrating the dream sequences in the play, and ‘narratives and locations’ in a mix of media including collage, and photographs that Blake took himself in Laugharne in the 1970s.

Sir Peter Blake said: “I’ve been working on this collection of illustrations for a long time, about 25 years I think, so it’s great that it’s going to be displayed at National Museum Cardiff for visitors to see.

“I think the works will fit in wonderfully in the gallery at National Museum Cardiff particularly as there are two important portraits of Dylan Thomas in the collection and I’m very happy that this will be part of the Dylan Thomas centenary celebrations.”

Peter Blake emerged as a key figure of the Pop Art movement of the late 1950s and his early paintings include imagery from advertisements, music hall, entertainment, and wrestlers, often including collaged elements, and he has engaged throughout his career with popular culture and especially the music industry.

Oliver Fairclough, Keeper of Art, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, said: “It’s a privilege to have Sir Peter Blake’s Under Milk Wood collection here at National Museum Cardiff. It’s a fantastic way to celebrate the life of Wales’ greatest poet at the Museum and we are very grateful for the support of Arts Council Wales and the Welsh Government in making this exhibition happen.

“The exhibition will be a ground-breaking, experimental show of the highest quality that combines unique visual images with the spoken word. Blake has a fascinating history of working with museums and of inspiring audiences and I’m sure this exceptional exhibition will have a major impact on new and existing visitors to the Museum.”

The exhibition will be a celebration and an exploration of Dylan Thomas’ most enduring work, and a platform for related events including a special evening lecture on 4 December 2013, readings, a performance and a programme of learning activities for formal educational groups.

The Dylan Thomas 100 festival is funded by the Welsh Government, the Arts Council of Wales, and Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion Councils. It will feature a programme of theatre performances, visual arts, comedy, television, film and exhibitions highlighting the importance of Thomas’ work across Wales throughout 2014.

Entry to National Museum Cardiff is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Government.

 

(from a press release)