Llangefni 1918 - Anglesey 2006
John Kyffin Williams spent a lifetime painting and drawing the landscape and people of North Wales. He entered the Slade School of Art in London in 1941, having served for five years in the Royal Welch Fusiliers before being discharged on the grounds of epilepsy. (The army doctor is said to have told him, “As you are, in fact, abnormal, I think it would be a good idea if you took up art.”) Williams won the Slade’s portrait prize in 1944, and in 1948 had his first one-man exhibition at Colnaghi’s in London. He enjoyed a successful career, working in a distinctive style, with further exhibitions as Colnaghi’s and the Leicester Galleries, and later at the Thackeray Gallery in London and various galleries in Wales.
Williams's views of the landscape of Snowdonia, painted with thick slabs of oil paint applied with a palette knife, earned him a considerable reputation. Between 1944 and 1973 he taught art at the Highgate School in London, where among his pupils was Patrick Procktor, but would return to Wales as often as possible to paint. In 1968 he received a fellowship to study the Welsh community in Patagonia, spending six months there, and within a few years had left London to settle permanently in Anglesey. Twice nominated president of the Royal Cambrian Academy, he did much to further the arts in Wales. Although best known for his dark Welsh mountain landscapes, Williams was also a gifted portrait painter. He wwas admitted to the Royal Academy in 1974, and was given a retrospective exhibition at the National Museum of Wales in 1987. Knighted in 1998, Williams died in 2006, at the age of eighty-eight.