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New digital resource makes Wales’ National Contemporary Art Collection available to all

More than 30,000 images of artworks from the collection of Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales will now be available to explore from the comfort of your own phone.

Launching today (Tuesday 20th June), Celf ar y Cyd, a core feature of the National Contemporary Art Gallery for Wales, led by Amgueddfa Cymru (in partnership with Arts Council of Wales, National Library of Wales, and with support from Welsh Government), gives the people of Wales and beyond digital access to the nation’s collection of contemporary art in a first-of-its-kind project, developed and created following responses to a Wales-wide public consultation.

With some works having never been seen on public display before, Celf ar y Cyd is breaking new ground in making Amgueddfa Cymru’s contemporary art collection truly accessible to a global audience. Following an extensive digitisation project, the mobile-first site offers an insight into artists including Bedwyr Williams and artworks such as Laura Ford’s Glory, Glory (Hat and Horns), which was produced for the Wales pavilion of the 51st Venice Biennale.

Amgueddfa Cymru’s Director of Collections & Research, Dr Kath Davies said,

“We are leading the way with this large-scale digitisation of Wales’ national contemporary and modern art collection. This is the first time a collection of this kind has been made available to the public in this way – something we are incredibly proud of.

“The opportunities to browse, learn, and be inspired by thousands of artworks are endless. We’re all very excited to be sharing this collection and look forward to seeing how people respond and share their thoughts.”

Members of the public from across Wales – our Community Curators – have been responding to the artworks with their personal thoughts, bringing the story of the nation’s contemporary art collection to life on Celf ar y Cyd’s Instagram page.

The highlighted artworks include Ysgwrn (2018), by Mary Lloyd Jones, which was inspired by and named after the farm where poet Hedd Wyn (1887-1917) grew up prior to being killed in the first World War, after which he was posthumously awarded the Chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod. His family gifted Yr Ysgwrn to the nation after living there for generations, and his niece, Malo Bampton, shared how it felt to be transported back to her childhood when looking at the artwork from her home in Winchester.

Bampton said, “In looking at the yellows and the reds of the painting, I can hear the crackling of the fire which was the centre of our home. I can see grandmother cooking. I can feel its warmth. In the blues I can see the little rivers and streams; it’s brought so much back to me.”

“We had a wonderful childhood, spending time at Yr Ysgwrn with my brothers and hearing stories of Uncle Ellis. We’d hear how Ellis used to go up to the mountain and just sit there and write. He’d write his poem, if he liked it, he’d bring it back into the house; if not, he’d put it in the stone walls. We never found one, but it was fun to look.”

Kath Davies added,

“Working with the Community Curators has been an inspiring process, which showcases people’s personal connections to art.

“Whether it’s watching Malo be transported back to her childhood as she looks at Mary Lloyd Jones’ Ysgwrn or reading a creative response to a work on the site, it is the human reaction that makes this project come to life. 

“Celf ar y Cyd will open doors, giving people access to so many artworks they couldn’t normally see – anytime, anywhere.”

The site will launch on 20 June 2023 and can be accessed at https://celfarycyd.wales/.