Trust thanks sculptor Gwyn Price

The Trustees would like to pay tribute to artist and sculptor Gwyneth Price Gwyn Price (nee Westwood) for an extraordinary gesture of support for the Trust’s work of assisting students in need. Despite suffering serious illness, Gwyn said she was delighted to know her donation would be of good use and might change lives in a significant way.

Gwyn studied for a traditional degree in Sculpture through the Fine Arts Department on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the University in the early 1960s. The head of the department at that time was Professor JCW Heath, who unfortunately was very unwell at that time. When Gwyn was awarded an Emma Smith Scholarship, she was offered very little advice about London Art Schools and how to apply to them.

Gwyn says Prof Heath’s ex-wife, Jane, who was the main painting tutor, did write to Chelsea Art College on her behalf “but didn’t receive their response before I flew to London for the September start of term”.

Gwyn applied to study at Croydon Art College which then had a very new sculpture department, headed by Richard Sladden. She had a connection with the College through the Britton family. The Principal was an uncle of Stephanie Britton, whose parents were lecturers at the University in Pietermaritzburg at that time. They later emigrated to Australia where they worked at Flinders University in Adelaide. Stephanie, who studied printmaking at Croydon Art College, became Gwyn’s flatmate and dear friend.

Gwyn says: “Much later, I discovered that Chelsea had in fact accepted me but Jane Heath decided I was probably settled into Croydon and didn’t need to know!” She is sorry to have missed the chance to study under the great woman figurative sculptor Elizabeth Frink, who was teaching at Chelsea then.

She says: “My life might have taken a very different track. I loved making work related to the human figure and found all the ‘60s emphasis on pure abstraction – the great god Anthony Caro – very tough.” But she continued her studies at Croydon “and went on to find I loved teaching kids”.

After a solid career in teaching, Gwyn retired with her husband Graham to live in Wales. She declares: “Finally, I did get to make some significant work as a member of Sculpture Cymru!” She describes this as “a late flowering”.

In a 2021 Sculpture Cymru brochure, Gwyn says: “The ideas for my work have mostly been concerned with the beauty and interest of natural and human forms, developed from observation, drawing and taking photographs. This slow collection can take months, but the evolution of an idea is sometimes surprising, springing to the mind’s eye, vivid and complete in the moments of waking in the morning.

“All of the collecting and drawing of images seems to be digested by the unconscious mind. At other times the actual process of building the piece gives new ideas. The materials themselves alter the outcome – the grain of the wood, the accidental clipping off of a corner changing the final form …”

Titled: “Going, going, gone”

Gwyn declares: “At the present time artists try to make visual comments on the conditions in which we find ourselves – climate change, migration, conflict, pandemics. We are living in an age of extinction. I have attempted here to make objects both intriguing to look at and carrying a powerful message about our situation.”

* The image heading this article shows an installation created by Gwyn for an exhibition on the theme of climate change, with a bare-branched tree made from recycled fabric and other materials, set against wall-mounted pages illustrating climate data for the British Isles.

Gwyn’s listing on the Sculpture Cymru website can be found here:

The trustees hope that you will be inspired by Gwyn’s example to give as generously as you can to help students in need at the University.