Remembering Anglesey artist Tom Gerrard
The daughter of Anglesey artist Tom Gerrard is hoping to give her father the reputation he deserves
Menna has created a website dedicated to her father's work which can be found online at www.angleseyartist.wordpress.com and is due to speak to the Anglesey Art Group about him next month.
There are many ways artistic talent is brought to the fore. In Tom Gerrard’s case it was through watching the pennies. His wife, Margaret, asked him to buy her a painting at a Peter Scott exhibition. He checked the price and said: ‘I’ll paint you one instead.’
He did and she loved it and there began a prolific artistic career which produced scores of paintings of the North Wales and Anglesey landscapes.
Now, 35 years after his death, Tom’s daughter Menna wants to raise his profile. ‘I think it’s a real shame that he had such talent but he is largely unknown,’ she said.
‘My dad was a Sunday painter. He worked during the week and painted at home at the weekend.’
Tom was born in Gaerwen on Anglesey and was a pupil at Llangefni County School where his academic prowess earned him the nickname Maths Boy. He passed his school exams early and went on to achieve top grades in his Higher School Certificate, earning himself an Oxbridge scholarship.
‘The local paper came to take his picture when he passed his exams,’ Menna said. ‘But they had to come back and do it again because he had a copy of Wizard tucked in his belt. Then he gained an Oxbridge scholarship but he had to give that up because his father died and he had to work.’
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After working as a telephone engineer and spending time in the Royal Navy, he took a job with the Inland Revenue. The job, and a series of promotions, took him away from his beloved Anglesey to Cardiff and then on to London. In March 1976 he was due to return from London to Cardiff when he suffered a massive heart attack and died.
Menna, who lives near Mold and qualified as an architect in 1979, said: ‘He came to art late, when we moved to Cardiff he would paint in the kitchen but they later gave over one of the bedrooms for him to use as a studio. He would always ask my mum what she thought of his paintings.
She was his biggest fan. ‘My father was an exceptionally modest man and very philosophical. He did love exhibiting his work but it was my mother’s opinion that mattered most. They were utterly devoted to one another.’
Among his other fans was the celebrated artist Kyffin Williams. The two were mutual admirers of each other’s work and there are clear similarities between their paintings. ‘Kyffin and my father were great friends and Kyffin bought one of my father’s paintings,’ Menna added. ‘My father wanted to buy one of Kyffin’s in return and he and my mother went to an exhibition. My father selected a big painting he liked but my mother said she preferred dad’s work and they ended up buying a small one of Kyffin’s.
‘My dad had a painting exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1974 or 75 and education authorities used to buy his work in the days when they had a budget for art. Galleries used to ring him and ask for paintings and I know a lot of people bought them.
‘I’m trying to raise my father’s profile, not for any commercial purposes at all, but because I think it would be nice for people who own his paintings to know a little more about him. I just want people to enjoy his work.’