Wilf Roberts (1941 - 2016) was born in Llanfaelog and raised in the Mynydd Bodafon area of Anglesey. Educated locally, he moved to Croydon where he taught art for 13 years, studied part time at Croydon Art College and successfully exhibited his work. In 1974 he returned to Anglesey and was employed in Local Government and Education. In 1996 he retired to devote his time to painting. We regret to say Wilf Roberts died 19 September 2016.
He drew his inspiration from his island home and his paintings captured perfectly both the brooding starkness and inherent tranquillity that are the features of this beautiful and unspoilt area of Wales.
The paint was applied by brush and palette knife to produce strong, powerful and highly original works in his own inimitable style. His paintings show his ability to reflect upon and interpret the richness of the colours and capture the mood and atmosphere of the natural world.
During the 1960s and 70s he exhibited successfully in mixed and solo exhibitions in London and the South of England and illustrated books and posters on a voluntary basis for a number of local and national charities.
Since 1996 he contributed to a series of highly successful exhibitions in London and in many prestigious galleries throughout Wales including the Attic Gallery, Swansea; Oriel Tegfryn, Menai Bridge; Oriel Ynys Mon, Oriel Pen-y-Fan, Brecon; Oriel y Bont, Aberystwyth; and the Kooywood Gallery in Cardiff. For the past fifteen years he has contributed to and taken part in art related radio discussions and debates. His work has also been referenced and included in art publications and television programmes including Sioe Gelf. His work is held in public and private collections in The Hague, Paris, New York, Australia and the U.K.
His interest in painting and drawing is something he had been brought up with, it had always been there as an integral part of his life. One can sense the affinity he had with his surroundings in each of his works. The sheer simplicity of the Welsh stone cottages, rugged cliffs and rocks, churches and chapels, contain invisible memories and links with his childhood.
Western Mail article by Jenny White, published 20 October 2012
Attic Gallery in Swansea Marina is showcasing an exhibition of new work by Anglesey-based landscape artist Wilf Roberts. Jenny White previews . . .
Wilf Roberts’ work is often compared with that of the late Sir Kyffin Williams but Roberts begs to differ, pointing out that his palette is very different and that while he sometimes uses a palette knife, he also employs a wide range of other tools (more on that later). The two artists share one thing in common, however: like Kyffin, Roberts lives on Anglesey and has an affinity with the past.
“I’m mainly inspired by Wales as it used to be,” he says. “I don’t like modernism that much, so I tend to go back to my childhood and remember things as they were. The old cottages and farmhouses are quickly disappearing, but I make use of some of my old sketches to try to capture things as they used to be. I don’t really put anything in paintings that’s in any way modern except telegraph poles.”
Born on Anglesey in 1941, Roberts was raised in Mynydd Bodafon, an idyllic setting to which he returned after thirteen years working as a teacher of art in Croydon. During his time in the south of England he studied part-time at Croydon Art College and started his career as an exhibiting artist – a career that picked up pace after his retirement from teaching in 1996.
“My interest in drawing and painting is something I have been brought up with - it has always been there as an integral part of my life,” he says. “The privilege of growing up in one of the most beautiful and picturesque parts of Anglesey probably had a considerable influence in my early development as a person and as a budding artist. My painting is about the love and affinity I have with the Island and in particular my own square mile at Mynydd Bodafon - for this is where I live and work, its paths are familiar to me and it's where I'm most comfortable.”
Roberts always takes a sketchbook with him on his trips into the surrounding countryside, stopping to record anything that catches his eye. He is particularly drawn to contrasts of colour and shape, so sunset – when the contrasts are stronger – is a favourite time of day.
“I make fairly quick sketches just to get the main outline of what I’m trying to do,” he says. “All the painting is done back in the studio. I apply the paint with anything that comes to hand - mostly painting knives but also credit cards, my fingers, brushes, a pizza cutter, sticks – really anything I can think of that will get the desired effect.”
The resulting paintings have to pass Roberts’ critical eye before they make it into an exhibition.
“I’ve often gone to a painting the morning after and scraped it all off simply because I’m not sure about it or don’t like it. It happens to about a third of what I do. You never achieve perfection, but you want to think you can get close to it. If a painting’s going well, somewhere towards the end, the whole thing comes together and makes some kind of sense. That’s when I feel, ‘Yes, I’ve achieved something.”
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