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Last Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Art memorial call for Sir Kyffin
Sir Kyffin Williams
Sir Kyffin was "one of Wales' most famous, and favourite, sons"
Wales' richest artist says the assembly government must act quickly to save Sir Kyffin Williams' work for the nation.

Andrew Vicari says there should be a permanent exhibition in Cardiff or a purpose-built gallery for Sir Kyffin, who died aged 88 in Anglesey on Friday.

His funeral will be at Bangor Cathedral next Monday (1100 BST).

Culture Minister Alun Pugh said there were different views but the assembly government was supporting an Anglesey project to house Sir Kyffin's works.

Port Talbot-born Mr Vicari was once court painter to the Saudi Arabian royal family and government. He became the official artist for the first Gulf War and sold his portfolio of paintings from that era for more than 150m.

He said Sir Kyffin, who died in an Anglesey nursing home, was "one of nature's greatest gentlemen".

Andrew Vicari
In Wales the trend appears to be to wait 50 or more years before discovering the real quality and worth of our artists
Andrew Vicari

Wales must try "to do something marvellous to commemorate the superb work of one of its most famous, and favourite, sons," he said.

"There are statues to great sportsmen, museums dedicated to ancient artefacts, but the majority of the nation's art treasures are stored away where nobody can see them.

Mr Vicari said it was a "scandal" and urged the assembly government "to get a grip on the situation right now and find some way to purchase for the nation as many of Kyffin's treasures as possible".

"If they can't find a suitable space in the National Museum in Cardiff they should build a bespoke gallery to display not only Kyffin's but also the works of the many other notable Welsh artists who deserve greater exposure and recognition.

"In Wales the trend appears to be to wait 50 or more years before discovering the real quality and worth of our artists."

Mr Pugh said the government was making a multimillion pound investment in the National Galleries and Museum of Wales site in Cathays Park, Cardiff.

Oriel Ynys Mon
The gallery near Llangefni is pushing ahead with its extension plans

"I know some people would like to see even more work with a major extension at Cathays Park to create a national gallery.

"Other people are very keen indeed to see something quite different - a stand alone gallery of modern and contemporary art in a different location, and of course Kyffin would certainly have had something to say about the calls for a major gallery of modern art.

Oriel Ynys Mon said it hopes to push forward with plans to extend its gallery to house 400 works by Sir Kyffin.

Work has already begun on the extension which will house the works donated to the gallery by the artist but 1.4m still needs to be found to complete the work.

Mr Pugh acknowledged the calls for a permanent exhibition in Sir Kyffin's memory at the Oriel Ynys Mon and said the assembly government supported that in principle.

"We've made it very clear that we are prepared to put in a substantial amount of financial assistance to help that project come to fruition. Indeed, it would be great if that project were to go ahead," he said.

Tributes for 'iconic' Sir Kyffin
02 Sep 06 |  North West Wales
Top Welsh artist Sir Kyffin dies
01 Sep 06 |  North West Wales
Artist's 'library of sensations'
01 Sep 06 |  North West Wales

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