Cymru Culture

Articles / Erthyglau


(December 01, 2017)

The Machynlleth Tabernacle Trust

MOMA Machynlleth Signs
Main entrance

Machynlleth is a bustling historic market town in Sir Drefaldwyn, north western Powys. Its location is idyllic: set in the beautiful Afon Dyfi valley; at the foot of the Snowdonia National Park; and only about 10-11 miles from the glorious coastline of Cardigan Bay. 

Often called Wales' alternative capital, Jan Morris wrote of a future independent Wales ruled from Machynlleth (Machynlleth Trilogy, 1994). Owain Glyndŵr held a Welsh Parliament here after being crowned Prince of Wales in 1404. Owain Glyndŵr's Parliament House (the purported location) can be visited today, one of several mediæval buildings still standing in what George Borrow described as a 'thoroughly Welsh town' (Wild Wales, 1862). And a thoroughly Welsh town it remains, despite attracting 'good lifers' from abroad (only 65.6% of 'Mach's 2,235 inhabitants were born in Wales, according to the 2011 census), reflected in the vegetarian cafés and 'alternative' shops.


MOMA Auditorium panorama
MOMA auditorium

Speaking of alternative, the excellent Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), an eco-centre providing practical solutions for sustainable and renewable living, is just three miles north of the town. It used to make me laugh whenever CAT was mentioned on TV or radio, it was always 'the Centre for Alternative Technology... in mid-Wales'. Basically, because English-speaking journalists, unable to say Machynlleth, chose the easy way out, instead of taking the time or trouble to learn how to say it correctly. Now they mispronounce it Mac-hin-thleth, and no-one seems to care.

In the heart of this bi-lingual community in rural Wales is the Museum of Modern Art, Machynlleth (MOMA MACHYNLLETH); a vibrant, impressive arts centre and gallery space recognised for its quality and compassion, with the emphasis on artists living or working in Wales.

MOMA Tannery Outside
The Tannery

The acorn was planted in the autumn of 1984 when Andrew Lambert bought Y Tabernacl (built 1806, rebuilt 1880). The former Wesleyan Chapel was on the market with permission already granted for "change of use" and its possible demolition. Andrew immediately saw the potential of this building for the performing arts. But it was always his dream that other art forms would flourish alongside and in the intervening years this dream came true.

MOMA Owen Owen Gallery (2014)
Owen Owen Gallery (2014)

The site has expanded to include several adjacent buildings and now, in 2017, there are seven galleries, all with free admission, showing mainly contemporary Welsh art, but also exhibitions by well known artists from outside Wales. The Trust’s policy has been to acquire works from exhibitions they hold and The Tabernacle Collection now has over 300 works. The Collection includes work by some of Wales' best-known modern and contemporary artists and those with a strong connection to Wales, including: Iwan Bala; Frank Brangwyn; Mike Briscoe; Josef Herman (Joe Bach); Augustus John; Aneurin Jones; Mary Lloyd Jones; Shani Rhys James; Kevin Sinnott; and Kyffin Williams.

MOMA Aneurin Jones Ynysmarchog
Ynysmarchog, Aneurin M Jones, (1930-2017)
acrylic on board, 65 x 97 cm

The annual Tabernacle Art Competition draws entries from far and wide and has helped to launch careers.

The brief laid down by Andrew Lambert was 'to advance and foster the education of the public in the study and appreciation of the arts and in particular the visual arts since 1900'. MOMA MACHYNLLETH do this with great variety. Their recent major exhibitions include: the Abertyleri artist Roger Cecil (1942-2015), curated by Dr Peter Wakelin; the Meirionydd Artists Society; a selection from The Tabernacle Collection (MOMA MACHYNLLETH’s permanent collection of over 300 works); and, in the magnificent Sculpture Space in The Tannery, a ‘work in progress’ plait by Eli Acheson-Elmassry made of cotton, satin, turmeric, sweet orange, frankincense and myrrh, with an invitation to visitors to join in.

MOMA Tannery Gallery
The Tannery, gallery

Every year since 1987, in late August, the Trust has put on the Machynlleth Festival, centred around MOMA Machynlleth. This year, the eight day Festival included: a traditional Cymanfa Ganu; a recital ‘on the wonders of the neglected triple harp’; and a concert by the prizewinning male voice choir Côr Meibion Machynlleth. The Artistic Director of the festival is Julius Drake who uses his international contacts to bring chamber music performers of the highest order to Machynlleth. This year featured Rachel Podger of Brecon Baroque; the recently discovered young recorder player from the Netherlands – Lucie Horsch; and the return of the Vienna Piano Trio.

MOMA Josef Herman Miner
Miner, Josef Herman, (1911-2000)
pastel on canvas

MOMA MACHYNLLETH are holding two centennial exhibitions in 2018: Kyffin Williams (1918-2006); and William Condry (1918-1998), the naturalist and conservationist and former warden of the RSPB reserve at Ynyshir, Ceredigion.

MOMA Kyffin Williams Cottages Cilgwyn
Cottages, Cilgwyn, Kyffin Williams (1918-2006)
oil on canvas, 52.2 x 62.0 cm

Other important exhibitions next year will be The Celtic Fringe by Pete Monaghan, the only artist with the distinction of having won both the First Prize and the Ailsa Owen Memorial Prize in the annual Tabernacle Art Competition; Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Gawain and the Green Knight; and an exciting exhibition by seven different practitioners celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Owl Service by Alan Garner. 

The Glyndŵr Award, presented each year for 'An Outstanding Contribution to the Arts in Wales', rotates between literature, the visual arts and music. This year's recipient is journalist and writer, Dylan Iorwerth.

MOMA Mary Lloyd Jones Trysor Ystumtuen
Trysor Ystumtuen, 1995, Mary Lloyd Jones, b 1934
oil on canvas, 76.2x 91.4 cm

If you are anywhere near Machynlleth, and even if you aren't, it is well worthwhile making a detour or special trip to visit the town, and especially to MOMA MACHYNLLETH. Allow yourself a couple of hours to see and enjoy the wonderful collections on show in each of the galleries.

The A487, Aberystwyth (17¾ miles away) to Dolgellau (16 miles) road, runs through the town and the A489 terminates at 'Mach', connecting to the A470 for Newtown (28¾ miles away in total). 

Machynlleth station is on the Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury Cambrian Line. This line is currently served by Arriva Trains Wales. 

Machynlleth is on the TrawsCymru T2 Bangor to Aberystwyth bus service.

 MOMA Kevin Sinnott Waching the Buzzard
Watching the Buzzard, 1998, Kevin Sinnott, b 1947
oil on linen, 142 x 175 cm

MOMA MACHYNLLETH's galleries are open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, Monday to Saturday; entry is free.

MOMA Mike Briscoe Morning
Morning, 2000, Mike Briscoe, b 1960
oil on board, 101 x 75 cm


Y Tabernacl
Heol Penrallt
SY20 8AJ
Tel/Ffôn: +44(0)1654 703355
Twitter/trydar: @momamachynlleth
Facebook: MOMA Machynlleth


See also: galleries



 cylchgrawn Cymru Culture magazine
Published by/Cyhoeddwyd gan: Caregos Cyf., 2017


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