CERI RICHARDS CBE
Dunvant, Wales 1903 – 1971 London
Ceri Giraldus Richards was born on the 6th June 1903 in the small mining village of Dunvant near Swansea, the eldest of three children of Thomas Coslett Richards, a tin-plate worker, and his wife Sarah. Richards became a gifted pianist, his childhood steeped in music and in poetry, from which he developed a life-long admiration for Dylan Thomas. After Gowerton Grammar School he was apprenticed to an electrical firm while attending classes in technical drawing and art. He studied at Swansea School of Art from 1921–24 and received a scholarship to the Royal College of Art from 1924–27. In 1927 Richards began work as a commercial artist for the London Press Association, two years later marrying Frances Clayton, his contemporary at the RCA. In 1930 he held his first one-man show at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea.
In 1936 Richards exhibited a free-standing Object with the Surrealist group at the London Gallery. He was elected to the London Group the following year and began exhibiting relief-constructions. Richards gave up commercial work and began teaching part-time at the Chelsea College of Art in 1937. A Firewatcher with Air Raid Precautions in Cardiff during the War, Richards was also commissioned by the Ministry of Information to make drawings of tin-plate workers in South Wales. He became Head of Painting at Cardiff School of Art from 1940–44 and held his first one-man show in London at the Leger Gallery in 1942. At the end of the War,
the artist and his family moved back to London where he resumed teaching at Chelsea and later taught lithography at the Slade School of Art from 1954. During the late 1950s, Richards designed sets and costumes for Opera productions of Ruth by Lennox Berkeley and Noyes Fludde by Benjamin Britten. In 1960 a retrospective of Richards work was held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery and he was awarded CBE. Two years later he represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale where he won the Einaudi Painting Prize. In 1981, a decade after his death, he was the subject of a major retrospective at the Tate Gallery.