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Royal Cambrian Academy of Art

Around a year ago, Alan Whitfield from Disability Arts Cymru showed Helen Thornton, gallery manager of the RCA my website, luckily for me she liked my work, and I was invited to show some of it at the very prestigious Royal Cambrian Academy of Art in Conwy north Wales.
Let me give you a bit of the gallery’s history.
In the late 19th century, the Conwy valley was home to the very first artists’ colony in Britain, a lot of (all male) artists would travel through Wales ending up in Betws-Y-Coed, and by 1881 Conwy had become the ‘go to’ destination for artists because it was easier to get to by train from Manchester and Liverpool, and a lot less expensive than going on the Grand Tour.  Originally based in Llandudno, seven artists started  the academy and called themselves the Cambrian Academy of Art.
Official recognition came in 1882 when Queen Victoria commanded that the Academy be styled as ‘Royal’.  In 1885 local landowner Lord Mostyn offered them the lease of his neglected Elizabethan mansion Plas Mawr in Conwy, and the group made this their home, until they moved to its present location in 1994.
The RCA has had many famous (also infamous!) presidents. In1934, Augustus John became the first Welsh president of the Academy, and in 1969 the great Sir Kyffin Williams took over the role (which he repeated later in 1992). Today, a long way from the early ‘men only’ days of its beginnings, the Academy has its first woman president, printmaker, Ann Lewis, elected in 2020.
The Academy was honoured to have HRH Charles, Prince of Wales as Patron and perhaps that honour will now be passed on the new POW, William.

Here is the ‘About the Artist’ written by Anya at the RCA

Tina Rogers

Growing up in a North Wales mining village, where dreams are as scarce as oil paint. Young Tina was a budding artist with a biro for a brush, and the ripped out pages from her Mam’s romance novels were her canvas. Her bedroom walls became her next masterpiece, a decision that landed her in hot water with her siblings and parents (walls are harder to hide than you’d think).
Life in a poor working-class family, with a coal miner father and a barmaid mother, offered little hope for adventures or College. Art was for “posh” people, and Tina’s path was preordained: marry young, work at the factory, have kids, fade away, die.
And for a while, that’s exactly what happened.
But fate, it seems, had other plans. A serious illness made Tina confront her own mortality, an awakening that sparked a fire within her which re-ignited her passion for Art which enabled her to have a newfound confidence to create whatever set her soul alight.
Self-taught and fuelled by her life experience as a working class, disabled woman, Tina’s art is a kaleidoscope of all life. Past, present, and future all collide on her canvas. There’s a boldness in her work, a defiance against societal norms. She challenges the narrow definition of beauty, particularly for “larger ladies.” Weight, beauty, fantasy, and the elusive concept of perfection are dissected with a healthy dose of humour, making her art relatable and thought-provoking.
But Tina’s world extends far beyond body image. Mental health, protest, social inequality, the struggles of the under-privileged  – poverty and the disabled – all find a voice in her paintings. A peek into her work reveals a love for history, cinema, music, myths, and the stories that bind us. As you explore her art, you’ll not only see her experiences, but also find yourself reflected in them, a connection forged through shared humanity and a dash of Tina’s signature wit.

What an honour for me to have my first show at the Royal Cambrian, it’s such a wonderful gallery.
I hope to apply to become an associate, then full member of the academy (so keep your fingers X’d for me! It’s very hard to get in!).
The staff there (Helen, Anya and Tim) have been so lovely, encouraging and helpful, and despite my ‘imposter syndrome’ made me feel that I do belong.  Words can’t describe how I feel! 
I met so many nice people and talked to them about their own practice, and was thrilled to meet artist Meinir Mathias and Gilly Thomas. What an amazing day, I am so lucky! 


Tina Rogers at the Royal Cambrian Academy