The perfect nature of its layout, the wall of the harbour that wraps like a protective arm around the vibrant bobbing boats and fishing fleet, the pretty shades of the fine buildings overlooking the jewel speckled sea, the honey sand and the vast expanse of sky. Tenby was created by nature, improved by humans and perfected by history. It is little wonder that the creative eye sees much to delight and inspire. With vision and talent, artists throughout the years have made the pilgrimage to paint and draw Tenby, capture its beauty and afford us all the chance to take a little image of such perfection away. Images that remind us all that once Tenby takes the heart, no matter the miles between, a little piece remains.
The earliest known image of Tenby is by William Golding, not the literary mind behind Lord of The Flies, but the British artist born in 1771. His painting of Tenby Harbour is considered the first holiday snap of Tenby and its depiction of a sheltered, peaceful bay, bathing machines on the beach and walkers on the headland admiring the view across Tenby North Beach, shows an image of Tenby’s beauty and tranquillity in 1799.
It is notable for the nude bathers who can be observed frolicking in the surf and sand below. Amusingly, the gentleman appears to be distracting his lady’s sensibilities from such a sight, by pointing out the sweep of the bay and the beauty of the view beyond. The charming original can be viewed in the wonderful Tenby Museum and Art Gallery. Local features, changing exhibitions and the history of Tenby can be found here, as well as displays from the Artists of Tenby.
From these auspicious beginnings’ artists flocked to Tenby for the quality of light and space, each bringing another unique take on the charm and beauty available. You can find imagery of Tenby encompassing the classical harbour view from above North Beach painted in every imaginable style from neo-classical to impressionistic. With a location so gorgeous and wonderous, centuries of artists have exploited every setting, in every style. Use of colour ranges from the muted, moody seascapes to the vibrant dazzle of primary colour, naïve and child-like, to fine, immensely detailed oil paintings, dreamy watercolours and the complexity of photorealism. You will find the genre you prefer, and you will certainly find a price range to suit you. From a simple postcard for a pretty frame, up to an original one-off painting, you will treasure.
Tenby has a small but thriving artistic community, regular exhibitions throughout the year and several exciting and individual galleries. Visiting artists strive to capture the energetic, sun-soaked beauty of summer Tenby with riotous colour, reminiscent of happy holidays. Local artists create throughout the seasons, at liberty to show the dramatic atmosphere of winter in Tenby, the ever-changing light and hues of the sweep of ocean and the magnificent drama of the expansive sky. Tenby is a landscape artists’ dream.
Tenby has several artists in residence, the most prominent of which is Naomi Tydeman. Her breath-taking land and seascapes can be viewed at her lovely Gallery and studio on Cobb Lane, and her online shop. Her stunning pieces are atmospheric, moving and incredibly beautiful. As the winner of the Turner Watercolour Prize in 2013, each piece is an investment in her talent and artistry.
Successful Tenby born artist and architect David JP Morgan has a gallery on Quay Hill. Here David shows work of outstanding quality of the local area with boats, the harbour and local landmarks an inspiration. Painting exclusively in oils now for the vibrant depth and range of colour achievable, he has moved into portraiture. David now utilises watercolour only for sketching and planning out larger works. He has exhibited at various galleries nationally and at the Royal Exhibition of Marine Artists in London.
Harbour Gallery on St Julian Street is owned by local artist John Cahill. An accomplished creator of distinctive and detailed rural and coastal landscapes. With a prestigious career encompassing both a BA (Hons) and a Masters degree from the Royal College of Art, he has exhibited widely and won many prizes and awards.
Guy Manning’s Art Room is based in a charming old stable found in Upper Frog Street in Tenby. A warm welcome awaits visitors in an informal, relaxed setting, and the Gallery prides itself on encouraging wellies, dogs and youngsters. Selling everything from postcards, quirky gifts and art supplies, as well as the stunning work of Guy himself, the atmosphere of the Art Room inspires creation. Guy has exhibited internationally and is a highly respected and renowned Tenby artist, with a striking use of colour and texture.
Also to be found on Upper Frog Street is an art gallery of a different, but no less stunning, kind. Belonging to artist Gary Llewellyn, who was born in Pembrokeshire. Llewellyns Gallery displays and sells the breath-taking photographic compositions Gary creates. Without any formal training in photography, the quality and stunning images he creates are astonishing and magical.
If 2020 was the year that your eyes felt starved of beauty, your parameters were limited to rooms, walls and your little bit of outdoor space, perhaps you need to drink in a stunning vista. If the stunning vista you are looking for is gorgeous, charming Tenby and the real thing feels a distant dream, then the Artists of Tenby will transport you.