Cyfarthfa Castle: a sculptor in Merthyr

“Metal Matters”, sculptures and drawing by Dilys Jackson, can be seen in Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery until February 23rd.  Dilys is one of my predecessors as Women’s Arts Association chair, and we went to the official opening last Monday.

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The museum and 158 acre park are in a superb setting above Merthyr Tydfil.  Cyfarthfa Castle is actually more of a house, the home of the ironmasters of Merthyr, the Crawshays, and was built in 1825 by the grandson of the rags-to-riches Richard Crawshay who rented the ironworks and came to own them and the Glamorgan Canal.

Cyfarthfa was sold to Merthyr Council in 1909, and they decided to use the ground floor as a museum, which it remains today, of which more later.  The rest became a school in 1913.

The Mayor Graham Davies opened the exhibition in the original gallery which has a collection of contempary art, with works gifted by Contemporary Art Society of Wales (CASW) – a good backdrop.

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Dilys Jackson’s work is across a hallway lined with sketches for ‘Salem’ by Sydney Curnow Vosper, visible in the background to her drawings.  (Salem was given away with Sunlight soap and some see the devil in the shawl.)

IMG_1970 Recent work has been influenced by trips to Iceland and volanic lava flows, and the fracturing and textures rumble and peak in the works.

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I especially liked the bronze and Portland stone “Spring” (below left) and cast iron forms (below right).

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Well worth a visit – as is the rest of the museum, full of rich mahogany, heavy curtains, portraits of the historical figures of Merthyr and its history of iron, Chartists and Dic Penderyn.

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There is also the only Egyptian collection in Wales, and bright glass cabinets of Wedgewood, Nantgarw, Swansea and other pottery.

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Outside, views over the trees in the park and to Pont-y-Cafnau bridge completed a pleasant afternoon.

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