ABOUT THE ARTIST
Alan Young studied illustration at the Royal College of Art. The inclusion of eight of his paintings in the European Illustration Annual attracted commissions from major magazines in Canada, Germany, the USA as well as in the UK.
But he has always concentrated on personal work, writing, painting, and reportage: over the past few years he has been an eye-witness at cock fighting events in Belgium and France, making drawings in a situation where cameras are not tolerated.
The first results of this research were published in the journal, Ambit, which has also featured his translations and illustrations for the poetry of the Finnish modernist, Edith Södergran.
He has spent four summers painting and taking photographs in Finland and Russian Karelia, exploring the balance there between culture and wilderness. A fascination with place and memory informs the work he makes around his home in Kent and in the Brecon Beacons which he returns to year after year.
His paintings, illustrations and prints have been exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions including a number of Welsh galleries, such as the Royal Cambrian Academy, MOMA (Wales), Oriel Ceri Richards at Swansea University, and the National Library of Wales, which has purchased one of his watercolours, Pen-y-Parc, Brecon Beacons (shown top left) for its collection.
Alan is a Member of the Watercolour Society of Wales - www.watercolourwales.co.uk/alan-young/
ABOUT THE WORK
My trips to the valleys earlier in the year were shrouded in mist, so I was forced to look for reference online. I found a powerful early 20th century photograph, 'Rhondda Valley from the Rhigos', and based my first watercolour on this. It shows Blaenrhondda dominated by coal mining with gigantic slag heaps in the foreground (click here)
On a recent journey to the Rhigos I found that view much changed from the last century, and, in between showers of rain and hail, there was sun through the clouds - beautiful light moving over the hillsides. The tall chimneys and slag heaps had gone and on the mountain above Blaenrhondda I discovered the ancient tumbled-stone buildings of Hen Dre'r Mynydd, which I incorporated in a charcoal sketch (click here)), where I tried to adapt a wide landscape to the portrait format of the poster.
The circular form of the settlement echoes the disused mine workings nearby. This sketch has become the basis for my final paintings (opposite and click here)
Alan Young, July 2013
ABOUT THE AREA
As its name suggests, Blaenrhondda is at the top of the Rhondda Fawr valley. Accessible from a nearby parking area, 'Hendre'r Mynydd was once an iron age settlement, circles of stones which can still be seen. Excavations in the 1920s discovered iron and leather remains, although it was not possible to date these. Pottery found at a similar site dated from the 1st to 3rd Century AD, which might indicate it was inhabited until Roman times, perhaps as a 'hafod', a 'summer home' in Welsh. The views down the valley are stunning and there is excellent walking nearby with some spectacular waterfalls.
Rhondda Fawr - south from Hendre’r Mynydd
Rhondda Fawr - i’r de o’r Hendre’r Mynydd