The Welsh Collection - Exhibition, 2005
Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery, Brecon

Artist's Statement

There is a deep need within me to trace my journey through life by attempting to trap its essence in paint. For part of the last thirty years that journey has taken place in Wales and I have attempted to weave the profound beauty of this ancient land into the very fabric of my canvases. The poet R. S. Thomas said that metaphor puts us in touch with God and by experiencing reality in another form a mysterious chord is struck that unites for a moment with the cosmos. A painting can quiver into life echoing a response in us of exquisite delight - the spirituality of man embedded in the jewel like magic of pigment.

Someone once said that a work of art is, that day that never was, nor will be, but is the day that we all carry in our hearts, and I hope these pictures may show this sentiment - waterways that run like veins through the skeleton and flesh of hill and valley - huddles of cottages some of which are derelict with tears of stone littering the land around and those black tips flecked with gold from rising and dying suns that were like memorials to the men that toiled beneath. And always the divinity of light accenting and dulling by turns the forms it shapes and enhances be they church, flower, field or purity of the driven snow.

The scarred landscape of Llanelly Hill, Brynmawr and Blaenavon that inspired paintings such as "Coal tips towards Sugar Loaf, sunrise," has to a great extent gone, thus adding an historical element to some of the earlier studies which was totally unintended.

In his preface to his collected poems, Dylan Thomas talks of a shepherd who built fairy rings to protect his flocks and when asked why he did this said he would be a damn fool if he hadn't done so. Dylan added he would be equally foolish if he hadn't written his poems and I would like to add that these paintings have been created with the same necessity, hope and love.

The whole body of work - including the later pictures made in response to Llanfrynach and Brecon cover more than a thirty year period and I am thrilled they are to be shown as a group in the Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery - part of my life's journey woven into paint.

Michael Strang
March 2005

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