The Kyffin Diaries

Transcribe the diaries of one Wales's best-known artists Kyffin Williams (1918-2006) and discover the man behind the art

Thanks to the generous support of our remote volunteers, this project has been completed

About Kyffin Williams

‘Kyffin’ as he was popularly known was arguably the best known Welsh artist of the later 20th century and as art historian Dr Gareth Lloyd Roderick stated he is in a popular sense the ‘national’ painter of Wales. He was made Royal Academician in 1973.

His use of a thick oil paint heavily applied onto the canvas with his palette knife was typical of Kyffin’s style and became iconographic. Through this unique application of paint one felt an intense energy flowing from his work. Kyffin Williams stated in his memoir ‘Across the Straits’ that his life aim was to record the land and the people of his childhood in Anglesey and north-west Wales. He was truly an expressionist painter and stated that the best works he created were when he allowed himself to be ‘…swept away into a fever of excuberance or even anger, the better the final result has been; while conscious thought has invariably brought disaster’. As an epileptic he felt an intense obsession to paint and was therefore a prolific painter- completing up to three paintings a week. One may also assume that the artists’ struggle with depression played its part in his works as well. Kyffin stated that there is a ‘…a seam of melancholy that is within most Welshmen, a melancholy that derives from the dark hills, the heavy clouds and the enveloping sea mists’.

The National Library and Kyffin had a close relationship and upon his death in 2006 a large section of his estate came to the Library. The National Library possesses the largest number of Kyffin Williams works in the world.