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Nicholas Evans (RCT Digital Archive)
The Welsh Van Gogh
Only discovered by the art world in his 70s, Nicholas took up painting when he retired as an engine driver. Self-taught, he was soon being called 'The Welsh Van Gogh'. His paintings have a gritty realism, depicting miners as victims.

When Nicholas Evans was 'discovered' in the 1970s the art world was excited by the work of what they saw as the 'Welsh Van Gogh'.  He portrayed the harsh reality of the coal industry, depicting miners as victims (his father died in a pit accident). He grew up in Aberdare at the height of the coal industry and that's what he painted when he retired. He showed the tools of the trade - tommy boxes and tools, pit props and pit ponies in claustrophobic settings underground.

 

He didn't avoid difficult subject matter as the titles of his paintings, like 'Trouble in the Twenties', 'Hunger Marchers' and 'Claustrophobia', illustrate. 'Black Avalanche', which he painted in 1979, showed the destruction of Aberfan. As Peter Wakelin wrote in his obituary 'Visitors to the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea are sometimes found weeping before it, not only for the enormity of the tragedy of Aberfan, but for the universal grief that Evans captures'.

Nicholas Evans (RCT Digital Archive)
Where to Visit?

The University of South Wales' art gallery in Pontypridd holds paintings by Nicholas Evans.

You can see some of Nicholas' paintings in the collections of Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery in Merthyr Tydfil.

Find out what it was like to be underground at the Rhondda Heritage Park. 'Claustrophobia', one of Nicholas's paintings, is in the collection there.

Dates
Birth: Aberdare 10 January 1907
Death: 05 February 2004
Women Working Windlass by Nicholas Evans (RCT Digital Archive)
Related Books
Nicholas Evans
Arts, Stage & Screen