Current Projects at the Centre
R.S. Thomas’s ekphrastic poems
1. Among the books which the Centre acquired from R.S. Thomas’s own library were two volumes on modern art, Herbert Read’s Art Now (1933) and Surrealism (1936), edited by Read and containing essays by some of the leading thinkers in Surrealist art. Interleaved in these books were some three dozen unpublished manuscript poems by Thomas in response to reproductions of art works, including work by Salvador Dali, Henry Moore, René Magritte and Graham Sutherland. Bloodaxe Books, who published Thomas’s later collections as well as R.S. Thomas: Uncollected Poems, edited by Brown and Walford Davies (2013), have contracted to publish these, with colour reproductions of the paintings. The collection, entitled Too Brave to Dream: Encounters with Modern Art, is to be published by Bloodaxe in 2016.
2. The Centre has acquired as part of its archive a considerable volume of the paintings, letters and journals of Mildred Eldridge (1909-91), the poet’s first wife. She was a distinguished painter in her own right, a significant figure in British Neo-Romantic painting from the 1930s to 1950s. Her reputation thereafter faded somewhat as her husband’s increased, though she continued to paint; the Centre’s work has contributed significantly to the current substantial revival in interest in her work, including three recent public exhibitions of her painting and a television programme (presented by Prof. Walford Davies). Prof. Tony Brown is currently, with the active support of Gwydion Thomas, the poet’s son, preparing an edition of her unpublished Autobiography, two drafts of which are in the Centre’s collection. The Autobiography is to be published with a generous selection of her outstanding paintings and sketches and a substantial introductory study of her life and work.
3. During the Centenary year (2103) the Centre hosted outstanding public lectures on the work of R.S. Thomas by Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and currently Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and Professor M. Wynn Thomas of Swansea University, the poet’s Literary Executor. It is planned that these two lectures, ‘R.S. Thomas and Buddhism’ (Williams) and “‘Yr Hen Fam”: R.S. Thomas and the Church in Wales’ (Thomas) will form the first two pamphlets in a series of Trafodion / Proceedings, to be published by the Centre under the editorship of Prof. Jason Walford Davies.