Wales

Welsh Artist of Year Elfyn Lewis thanks his son, five

Pwll Crochan by Elfyn Lewis
Image caption Elfyn Lewis says his winning painting Pwll Crochan (Cauldron Pool) is "bold" and "positive"

An abstract artist who has scooped the Welsh Artist of the Year 2010 has his five-year-old son to thank.

The £2,000 prize, is the second major win in a year for Elfyn Lewis.

Last July he also won the gold medal for fine art at the National Eisteddfod.

Mr Lewis, from Porthmadog in Gwynedd, said Pwll Crochan was chosen by Hamish from five paintings after he could not decide.

The artist, who beat 400 other entries to the top prize, said: "It's a bold positive painting.

"Hamish likes to call himself an artist and on this occasion he made the right choice."

Inspired by his love of both the Welsh landscape and ancient place names, his abstract paintings use thick smears of paint, layered on and left, in some cases, to drip over the edge of the board to create an almost sculptural textured landscape.

Mr Lewis said: "Winning this prize gives me a great sense of self-belief and confidence in my work.

"It was nice to be chosen to be part of the exhibition but having the approval of well-known art practitioners gives me the momentum I need to continue my current style of work."

It is the first time that a painter has won the overall Welsh artist accolade since 2005.

Judge and last year's winning artist Tim Freeman, said of the winning acrylic painting.

"The balance of chaos and harmony is so well articulated in the work that it offers a delicacy of detail and fragility often missing in process based abstraction.

"His practice draws on abstract painterly tradition while remaining entirely contemporary, and offers us, as viewers, highly articulate moments of visually poetry and contemplation."

'Point of sophistication'

Since winning the eisteddfod prize Mr Lewis has staged three solo exhibitions in Wales including Bylchai at St David's Hall, Cardiff in March.

He was also invited to show at the relaunch for Mostyn in Llandudno in May and Oriel Canfas in Cardiff is currently showing Gestiana, a collection of 15 of his paintings.

Judge Iwan Bala said: "Elfyn Lewis has reached a point of sophistication in his work that is re-enforced by his winning of the Godl Medal for Fine Art at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Bala in 2009.

"We hope that gaining these two "titles" will help his career develop and prosper."

Exhibition curator Ruth Cayford said: "It's great for the competiton that an artist of Elfyn Lewis's stature has won the title. What's exciting about hsi work is his ambition.

"Some people in the art world say painting is dead, but in Wales there is a new painting renaissance and Elfyn Lewis is part of that revival."

Former head teacher and mother-of two Emily Jenkins, from Llandaff, Cardiff, won the runner-up and sculpture prize with her lustre-glazed ceramic pieces Right to Return.

Her work represents the removal of the Palestinian people from their ancient olive and lemon groves by the Israeli settlers.

Iwan Bala said: "Emily presents us with deceptively evocative sculptures that at first sight seem innocuous, table-top ornaments, but delve into the themes and symbolism of the work, and you realise its currency as impassioned political comment."

Pwll Crochan will be the centre piece of the Welsh Artist of the Year exhibition which runs until 6 August at St David's Hall Cardiff.

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