Former pupil reflects on life as a lockdown artist
April 16, 2021

A former Rydal Penrhos pupil has been reflecting on life as a lockdown artist over the last year.

Former Rydal Penrhos pupil Fred Williams, who attended the Prep School from 2004-11, has been reflecting on a difficult few months that forced the aspiring artist into a different method of work thanks to social distancing measures relating to COVID-19.

This incredible story was recently featured in the latest edition of the Rydal Penrhos Society newsletter, which is produced on the school’s digital platform Turtl and is sent to thousands of alumni across the globe.

Alumni recently commissioned Fred to paint a picture of Old House and the front reception area of Rydal Penrhos Senior School, spending time on-site sketching the area before bringing it to life in painting form.

Here is Fred’s fascinating story in his own words.

“My love of art really began with Mr Roebuck at Rydal Penrhos Prep School. I remember drawing charcoal waterfalls and a tiger at the Welsh Mountain Zoo. And for long summer holidays in Crete, Mum would pack – alongside lilos and beach balls – sketchbooks and paints.

There’s something about Crete’s rocky, mountainous west coast that demands to be painted; the precise quality of the light, the vivid palette that changes through the day and explodes at sunset, the wind that whips up the sea into a tumult.

A Kyffin Williams exhibition on Anglesey that I visited aged 11 provided me with the first glimpse art’s power to capture not just how a landscape looks, but how it feels, to dramatize the connection between a place and emotions.

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It’s a theme I’ve traced through the other artists I love: Frank Auerbach, John Virtue, Tacita Dean, South African landscape painter Walter Meyer. I’m also a huge fan of Anselm Kiefer and his epic works, both in scale and ideas.

After school, I won a place on the Foundation Year at the Royal Drawing School in London.

What an incredible experience; a year spent at the beating heart of creative life in the UK, totally immersed in art in so many forms and glimpsing the possibilities out there both in terms of media and ideas. And it’s thanks to RDS that I find myself on the Fine Art programme at Newcastle University, a great course in another artistically vibrant city.

Over the last few months during the lockdown,  I returned back home near Snowdonia, which is no bad place for a landscape painter to be and something I tried to make the very most out of despite the difficult circumstances.

I take landscape and portrait commissions. You can see some of my work on Instagram @fredcanpaint.”


Anyone wishing to enquire about Rydal Penrhos School can do so by calling 01492 530155, email admissions@rydalpenrhos.com or register your interest online here: https://rydalpenrhos.com/admissions/apply-now.