Clyde Holmes

Cwm Hesgin helps you to enter a calmer and deeper world.

Clyde Holmes, 24th Jan 1992

In 1970, the artist Clyde Holmes, searched for a place in North Wales that would feed his imagination and inspire his work. He found a remote Snowdonia farmhouse that had been abandoned in 1947, when the house was covered in snow and the resident farmer was lucky to escape with his life. But Clyde felt it was the perfect place, and during the ensuing decades, the area became a home to him and his family and very much part of who he was. Clyde was born in London, his father worked for the Royal Mail and his mother, who was Polish, worked in a factory. Clyde spent two years working as a session musician for various bands before going to study fine art at Hornsey College of Art and St Martin's School of Art from 1965 to 1968. He then got a job at the British Library working with blind people until he made the decision to leave London in search of a more rural life. Clyde's work featured in BBC2's Visions of Snowdonia (1997) and is represented at the Victoria & Albert Museum, MOMA Wales and the National Library of Wales.

  • Nov 15th 1978

    Gale force wind, wind swept, colour swept landscape
  • Jan 12 1978

    bitterly cold northerly wind very strong gusts 70 to 80 mph
  • Feb 15th 1978

    Still very cold. Water frozen in container and buckets in the kitchen, the ice and snow like frozen lava flung down the slopes.
  • May 9th 1979

    Heard the cuckoo for first time

"An ever-increasing tourist trade is 'buying and selling' Wales. Wetlands are destroyed, riverbeds altered, roads widened and whole fields converted into campsites: the leisure industry is taking its toll. Many ecologists believe that flora, fauna and even indigenous people will only be able to survive in small, protected 'islands', be it rainforest, tundra or moorland as an ever-increasing greed of humanity will use and destroy most wild areas by the turn of the century. Cwm Hesgin and its immediate surroundings is one of these 'islands'. I feel that my concern and love for it is best conveyed through painting and poetry. I use as few words as possible as I like to express the restraint and simplicity of a day at Cwm Hesgin where light, or the lack of it, is a vital feature. I have tried to do the same in my paintings, exploring the uplands and its solitude. The Welsh landscape is essentially an unfixed mysterious place with light and shadow constantly moving over its surface. I am always shifting my preoccupations to paint this ephemeral flux..."

Clyde Holmes, 1997
Cwm Hesgin, its inhabitants and surrounding valley attracted many visitors; from friends and conservationists to art collectors and the media. It was a unique place and due to the mile walk up to the cottage people did not pop in, they would immerse themselves in the life there for a while sometimes staying for days. This way the family could build many special relationships some that have lasted to this day. Cwm Hesgin was also a place of great solitude and it was this solitude and walking in the hills that gave Clyde his endless inspiration. It was a tough environment to live in full time and the family lived through many extreme weathers and conditions.

Cwm Hesgin

Wedged in the top of a hill
I am a house full of change,
daily living in claustral embrace
is never the same.
I have three names
sunrise, sunset and midday.
Between many-eyed cloud sun-squirms,
shadow sweeps uphill and returns.
Prolonged gloom in my room
Interrupted only by swallows
blinking my small windows.
I follow a gull within my eye
beyond the haloed mountain -
my door darkens open.
Clyde Holmes, from Featherpaths 2004