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Peter Lord

Looking Out: Welsh painting, social class and international context

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‘Over the last twenty-five years, almost single-handedly, Peter Lord has transformed a collection of poorly understood evidence of art created in Wales, and lazy theoretical assumptions about it, into a discipline in its own right, equipped with analytical frameworks and supported by an accumulating body of knowledge.’
–Andrew Green, Wales Arts Review (on The Tradition)

The six sequential essays in this collection provide a narrative of a century and a half of Welsh painting, written with an emphasis on issues of social class and national identity. Through his earlier writing, Peter Lord has contributed to the establishment of an historical tradition of Welsh painting, but because it does not feature in the wider story of Western art history as presently told, the work revealed continues to be perceived as marginal, existing in isolation from ideas and movements in other countries. These essays break new ground by discussing the concerns of Welsh painters not only in domestic terms but also in the context of the ways in which artists in other parts of Europe and in the United States reacted to the common underlying causes of those concerns. The author challenges the idea that the work of Welsh painters is relevant only to the evolution of their own communities and, through confident and detailed analysis, validates their pictures also in terms of the arts of other Western cultures.

Peter Lord was born in Exeter in 1948, and now lives near Aberystwyth. He took a degree in Fine Art at Reading University in 1970. He has published and broadcast extensively on the visual culture of Wales in both Welsh and English languages, and curated major exhibitions for national institutions.

Between 1998 and 2003 he published the three volumes of The Visual Culture of Wales, which is regarded as the authoritative text on the subject. In 2013 an autobiography, Relationships with Pictures (Parthian) was published, followed by The Tradition: a New History of Welsh Art 1400-1990 (Parthian), which in 2017 was Wales Non-fiction Book of the Year. His most recent monograph, William Roos and the Itinerant Life (Oriel Môn, 2020) breaks new ground as the first detailed study of an itinerant portrait painter working in Britain.