Page last updated at 07:08 GMT, Thursday, 18 November 2010
'Cool Cymru' photographer Morris wants national gallery
Terry Morris
Terry Morris's first collection, Cool Cymru, was published in 2006

A photographer who has worked with some of the world's top celebrities has called for the creation of a National Portrait Gallery for Wales.

Terry Morris has created portraits of stars such as Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Tom Jones.

He will be a keynote speaker at the Festival of Welsh Documentary Photography held at The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

The event takes place on Friday 19 November and Saturday 20 November 2010.

You have to remember that people like Sir Tom Jones and Dame Shirley Bassey are very patriotic so they bought into the idea and did it free of charge
Terry Morris

Mr Morris, 45, who lives in Llanelli, shot to fame in 2006 with his first published collection, Cool Cymru.

The book was Wales' first photographic Hall of Fame and included portraits of Dame Shirley Bassey, Charlotte Church, Sir Tom Jones and Joe Calzaghe.


"Wales is the only one of the home nations that doesn't have a National Portrait Gallery and it is about time that we created one to showcase the talent of our artists and photographers," said Mr Morris.

"The problem is that there is a lack of appreciation and confidence in the arts in Wales.

"One of my last portraits of Sir Alex Ferguson sold for £26,000 at auction, but it wouldn't fetch £500 in Wales.

Charlotte Church
The waterfall used in the Charlotte Church portrait cost 3,500

"As a nation we aren't willing to spend money on fine art because we are a very grounded people."

Mr Morris will base his talk at the festival on how he started his career as a photographer.

"I cut my teeth as a press photographer with The Llanelli Star and I owe a lot to Jeff Connell who taught me to think on your feet and utilise props in my work," said Mr Morris.

"Like many press photographers I used to get captions wrong, but thankfully my wife Laura is a journalist so she used to help me out."


But after three years Mr Morris found the work had started to become repetitive and decided to work on his idea of creating a photographic Welsh Hall of Fame.

"It started because a friend of a friend knew Charlotte Church's mother and Charlotte agreed to let me photograph her," said Mr Morris.

Dame Shirley Bassey
Dame Shirley Bassey waived a fee for having her portrait taken

"I have to be honest I was very nervous when I met her, but she was very down to earth, nothing like a diva."

Mr Morris had to re-mortgage his house to continue with the project and at one point was close to losing his home.

"What people don't realise is that it cost me £3,500 to make the waterfall for the Charlotte Church portrait and I had to work on it for three weeks to make sure it was working," said Mr Morris, who eventually saw the project snowball.

"You have to remember that people like Sir Tom Jones and Dame Shirley Bassey are very patriotic so they bought into the idea and did it free of charge," said Mr Morris.


Mr Morris has since photographed Sir Anthony Hopkins for the ever-growing Hall of Fame.

"I stayed with Sir Anthony at his home in Malibu for a day which is the longest time I've had to photograph someone, said Mr Morris.

Terry Morris and Dame Shirley Bassey
Terry Morris believes communication is the key to photography

"That was a luxury compared to the six minutes I had to photograph Sir Tom Jones at the St David's Hotel in Cardiff before he left to do a concert that night."

Mr Morris's latest project is a collection of portraits of the 20 best chefs in the world and another project with chef Heston Blumenthal.

Mr Morris claims that 80 per cent of being a photographer concerns communication and business skills.

"A lot of celebrities don't like to have their photograph taken, which is understandable because they are just people like everyone else.

"If I've got an hour to photograph them I will spend at least 45 minutes chatting to them to put them at ease before starting work."

Other speakers at the Lens festival include Pete Davis, Peter Finnemore, Llinos Lanini and William Troughton.

Cool Cymru on 1 March in Llanelli
26 Feb 10 |  People & Places
Photographers come under the lens
16 Nov 09 |  Arts & Culture
Wales' photographic past in focus
29 Oct 05 |  Mid Wales


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