A friend told me this weekend that Dylan Thomas might have been an undiagnosed diabetic, his poor health and early death weren’t perhaps due to alcoholism and that the clichéd portrait of bloody minded verbose boozing artist may not tell the full tale.
Like very many, I’ve always been aware of him and his work, was taken to Laugharne as a teenager and like Ruskin’s house, it remains an impossibly romantic ideal of how a writer and a poet should live.
Nostalgia, for childhood, youth and place can be overwhelming in his poems, and the older I get, the harder I find it to read or listen to them at length. When I was asked to contribute to “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”, a group exhibition curated by Oriel Wrecsam around the themes in his short story, nostalgia seemed unavoidable. My three screenprints are sourced from vintage knitting patterns which for me distill, albeit rather weirdly, the images of family, Christmas and lushness past that my memories and his words construct.
My father, 15 years younger than Dylan Thomas, described his Christmases in Wales as a boy for me:
“Christmas in the 30’s was music and songs, lots of games, jelly and blancmange, strange sweetmeats, the smell of cigars. The music would be part of the Melyngriffith band, trumpets, euphonium, maybe trombone, all stood around the lamppost outside 25 Tynypwll Road. My mum on the piano, most of the men sang, Uncle Idris, my Dad. Ah well, another world it seems now.”
Part of ‘Ribbons’ 2014 Screenprint Pam Newall