Art Trail: farming mum from Anglesey who captures rural life on canvas

Life on the farm has always been an inspiration for Anwen Roberts.

The daughter of a farmer who married a farmer, she has spent years capturing the real life drama of Anglesey’s rural life on canvas.

In between feeding the animals and looking after her two young sons, Anwen, a fine arts graduate, makes time to paint.

Her work is so good that she is one of about 40 artists who have been selected from 400 North Wales artists to have her work shown at an exhibition due to open at the Oriel Ynys Môn Gallery in Llangefni.

The exhibition is being organised in conjunction with Anglesey Arts Forum and the Helfa Gelf/Art Trail, which form the North Wales Open Studios Network.

There will be a Private View on March 2 when some of the artists will be present between noon and 2pm  and the exhibition will  then be  open to the public until April 14.

The exhibition will show selected works by artists from the North Wales Open Studios Network –  who regularly open their private studios to the public.

The Network is part funded through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007 – 2013, which is financed through the European Union and the Welsh Government.

Anwen, of Bumwerth, Trearddur Bay, was brought up in South Wales and went to college in Pontypool and studied fine arts at the University of Staffordshire. But her father was raised on Anglesey and her late grandparents’ home is opposite the farm where she now lives.

“I studied fine arts and always wanted to be an artist,” said Anwen. She met husband Iwan during her final year when she returned to Anglesey for a family celebration at her grandparents’ home.

She and Iwan married in 2000 and settled at his Trearddur Bay farm where they have two sons Cai, 11, and Osian, nine, and where they keep a few hundred sheep and some cattle and chickens.

“I had a few jobs and worked part time for a while at Coleg Menai pre-vocational centre. But then I thought I wanted to paint again and concentrate on that. I thought if I don’t do it now I will regret it. And I was right. I love what I do,” said Anwen.

Iwan has to fit his farming around full-time work at Anglesey Aluminium. “Iwan goes to work and I have to split my time. I do my chores and feed the animals and when I’ve finished I can spend time in the studio painting and then I have to pick the boys up from school.

“I have to allocate my time because when the boys come home it would be difficult to concentrate on painting.

“I always carry a camera with me and when I visit a farm or an auction I like to take photographs which I can work from later.”

Anwen used to use acrylics but now works almost exclusively in oils. “It’s a very different medium. Acrylics dry so quickly but with oils you work on a few things at the same time while you wait for one part to dry.

“When you’re working on the farm you cannot stop to set up and draw things, no matter how much I would like to. But with my dad being a farmer and Iwan a farmer I am here experiencing it and not just observing as a passer-by. You see the seasons change and watch the start of lambing. Sometimes I can take my sketch book into the lambing shed.”

Anwen is on the voluntary committee which runs Anglesey Arts Forum. Its two main events in the year are the Anglesey Arts Weeks, two weeks in Easter, which includes the Anglesey open studios events when 52 artists on the island – like Anwen – open their private studios and invite the public to view and discuss their work. The Forum also organises Anglesey Performing Arts Weeks during October-November.

Chairman of the Forum Mike Gould, said: “To coincide with the Oriel exhibition, which includes work from across the whole of North Wales, we also have exhibitions of work by Anglesey artists at Ucheldre and Beaumaris galleries.

“The arts scene in Anglesey looks healthy but it is very difficult for people to make a living. One of the important points about the Open Studios programme is to promote our local artists to a wider audience, and get people to see and have the opportunity to buy their work.”

The Anglesey Arts Forum exists to promote the arts on Anglesey. Membership of the Forum is free and anyone interested or involved in the arts in any way is welcome to join.

North Wales Open Studios Network Project Co-ordinator Sabine Cockrill said: “Anwen’s work is an example of the fantastic array of artistic talent in North Wales and our mission is to raise their profile by giving them a platform to display their work.

“North Wales is an undiscovered gem in terms of its art and the North Wales Open Studios Network brings it to the public attention at exhibitions like this and with the open studios events run By Helfa Gelf and Anglesey Arts Forum.”

For more details about those taking part in Open Studios and Galleries Weeks (23 March – 7 April 2013) check out details on

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