A major new exhibition opened at Tenby Museum and Art Gallery in January 2020.
Forged in Wales: Five Welsh Actors has been put together by museum Curator Mark Lewis and has been generously funded by the Friends of Tenby Museum and Art Gallery.
The exhibition looks at the life and careers of five actors closely associated not only with Wales but also with the international film scene – Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, Stanley Baker, Michael Sheen and Tenby born actor and documentary maker Kenneth Griffith.
The material on display – mostly from the private collection of the Curator but with archive material relating to Kenneth Griffith from the museum’s collection – includes rare film posters from all over the world, lobby cards, press books, photographs, books, postcards and other film related material.
Mark, a self-confessed film buff (“or film bore!”) stated, “This exhibition went through various planning stages before the final theme was settled on. I originally wanted to look at Wales’ contribution to the cinema in a broader sense, to include actors such as Catherine Zeta Jones, Glynis Johns, Hugh Griffith, Ray Milland and Wales’ contemporary contribution to the horror movie scene – indeed had the texts written for these ideas – but space dictated a smaller exhibition. However, thematically this exhibition works very well. These iconic cultural icons of cinema have played integral roles in ensuring Wales’ cultural importance and relevance to cinephiles and the film industry. Four of them hailed from the Welsh valleys around Port Talbot and one was born and continued to visit Tenby. ‘I am enormously proud of being Welsh,’ Richard Burton once declared. And I think this exhibition shows that we should be enormously proud of the talent and contribution to the arts that has originated here. Long may that tradition continue.”
He added, “Being a huge long term fan of these actors, Burton in particular, I have been collecting material for many years and it’s wonderful to bring it all together into this exhibition at Tenby Museum. Although there is a Tenby connection – with the brilliant but often contentious Kenneth Griffith – I think it is important for museums such as ourselves to show exhibits that are of a wider cultural interest.
People often regard Burton as a mere celebrity, who succumbed to the trappings of stardom but they often forget that he was Oscar nominated seven times and made some classic films that stand the test of time. I hope the exhibition will draw this talent, and the talents of the other Welsh actors, some of whom have been overlooked, back into the public consciousness as true cinematic greats.”
He continued, “Film posters, particularly the early ones before they were superseded by digital promotion, are superb works of art in themselves. The colours remain vibrant and it is an artistic snapshot of the film being advertised, getting the tone and content of the film across perfectly. I am hugely indebted to the Friends of Tenby Museum for their support in getting these pictures framed for exhibition and for funding the interpretive panels and their translation. Without their continued support the museum could not be able to achieve half of what it does.”
The exhibition will run until the end of the year.