Richard Parry – artist

Welsh artist Richard Parry created Gŵyl Coleridge Yng Nghymru , the 2016 eighty-day pan-Wales touring exploration of Welsh culture and Welsh community in the light of poetry, landscape, identity, hosting, economy, human bondage and the idea of the modern. It explored the journey of the neglected English philosopher Coleridge into Wales in the summer of 1794 illuminating links between Coleridge’s neglected thought and vital traditions in historic and contemporary Welsh life and culture. The work included a summer long exhibition at the National Gallery of Wales of Welsh artist David Jones’ engravings of Rime of the Ancient Mariner, participation of national institutions, a ten day public appearance on the South Wales coast of the ghost ship from the poem Rime of the Ancient Mariner, performances at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, Museum of Modern Art (Wales), The National Museum of Wales, The Wales Millennium Centre, The Hay Festival, a festival of new thinking at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, academic conferences, eighty days of events and touring across Wales, community hosting and celebrations, and Bugeiliad Newydd, Richard’s installation of a cubic metre of melting ice at the centre of the Gorsedd Circle at the National Eisteddfod of Wales. The artist Ivor Davies said of this work, “Most people would think of Wales as a place, an Coleridge as a person; but what it seems you are doing is treating Coleridge as a place, and Wales as a person.” Richard described the work as his calling card to Wales for a cross-political and cross-cultural radical new adventure in Welsh justice, community and identity.

In 2017 Richard led a commission to create new artworks in Newport celebrating the 1839 Chartist Uprising and massacre installing The Chartist Milestone which stands today in Westgate Square, Newport, where 22 people died whilst protesting for democratic rights.

Richard produced the public spectacle and entertainment Carnifal y Môr on the steps of the Welsh parliament, The Senedd, which celebrated the arrival in Cardiff Bay of the 2018 National Eisteddfod of Wales. In 2019 he declared a Winter carnival in the South Wales town of Penarth and built, through a month of conversation and community working, the town’s Carnifal Gaeaf Penarth, which he led for four days.

He has created antemasque performances at the French Embassy in London, Rhode Island School of Design (USA) and The Senedd parliament in Cardiff, and collaborated with the artist Chris Glynn in the work Tunnel Under the Venn Diagram and a range of antemsaque work.

Collaborations with the artist Ivor Davies include the creation of the antemasque Ymateb at the National Museum of Wales in response to Ivor Davies’ exhibition Silent Explosion in 2016, participation in Ivor Davies’ film PYROGENESIS and the response to Richard’s 80-day Gŵyl Coleridge Yng Nghymru by Ivor Davies with the work Ancient Mariner – Not an Opera at the National Museum of Wales.

Worked commissioned by Richard from Bragod Gweddi’r Orsedd was presented in the 2021 Turner Prize in the Tate Gallery’s Turner Prize Exhibition.

As an academic he arranged and participated in the 2016 intellectual programme of Gŵyl Coleridge Yng Nghymru which included lectures and responses at the National Library of Wales, The Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, Wales Millennium Centre, The Hay Festival and the co-hosting of a symposium at Cambridge University. Richard addressed the international Oxford University conference in 2014 on the legacy of the philosopher Paul Tillich and gave a paper at the Royal Geographic Society international conference in 2018. In 2021 he helped establish the New Library in Llantwit Major which is associated with the Cambridge Centre for the Study of Platonism. Richard is currently organizing the academic conference The Two Roots of Political Thinking with associated Welsh cultural responses.

As a theologian he has published the works of John Rogerson. Reviewing these in the Church Times the Regus Professor of Theology at Oxford University, John Barton said of Cultural Landscapes and The Bible – Collected Essays of John Rogerson – “John Rogerson is an Old Testament scholar of amazing learning, versatility, and skill in exposition, notable also for his commitment to applying biblical insights to the demands of the modern world. Some of the pieces here have become classics … This is a magnificent collection, forthright, and yet also subtle and sophisticated. No one seriously interested in the Bible can afford to miss it.” In 2017 The Church in Wales Diocese of Llandaff asked Richard to help them discover more confidence to be the church serving our culture. This request developed into work in which Richard led the project to establish the New Library, Llantwit Major as a developing cultural centre and symbol of intellectual vitality in the Christian tradition, helping with this problem.

As a baritone singer, actor and writer Richard has worked in European theatre and opera and written and presented children’s television for ITV. His work won a London Fringe Theatre Award for Best Comedy, a London Time Out award and the British Gas Theatre Award at the Edinburgh Festival. His play about John Ruskin, Slugs and Angels toured as part of the National Ruskin Festival in 2005 and he has performed in British rep theatre and at the Royal Opera House. He trained as a classical baritone singer with Mark Wildman, Head of Voice at the Royal Academy of Music, performs classical song as a soloist at international music festivals, and appears in concert.  His celebrated one-man classical song shows include An Act of Piracy, Maud and Poet’s Love – Postcards from Robert Schumann.

As an educator his work is underpinned by the approach of Carl Rogers, the 20th century psychologist whose work founded the modern counselling movement. Richard has a practice in which he specialises in creating space for communities and individuals to come together to learn and understand more about their potential and ways in which they might healthily explore that potential. He is experienced at developing and supporting people who wish to become person-centred facilitators and educators. Richard’s business experience includes work for the Boards of The Post Office and Lloyds Bank, the designing and writing of a new coaching based national induction programme for Royal Mail’s postmen and postwomen, leadership consultancy and development, working for the Arts Council of Wales to develop child-centred creative learning in schools and leading cultural facilitation in schools, communities, government and businesses.

As a social activist Richard has worked with people from all the main political traditions of Wales. He was invited by the Eden project to walk from Batley, Yorkshire where the MP Jo Cox died through Wales to Cardiff celebrating Welsh communities and the resilience of communal life in Wales and the importance of strong communities for tackling climate change.  He has created an initiative to bring the Welsh Government Faith Tourism Action Plan 2013 to life, working with Visit Wales to make a practical public offer celebrating all the major faith traditions in the Landscapes of Faith of South Wales. He follows in the tradition of 19th century critic John Ruskin in bringing together practical ways in which the poetry of life can connect with economy and everyday community and justice. As an environmental and social campaigner Richard champions that understanding a society’s philosophy and culture of ‘relationship’ is key to solving the environmental, human, economic and climate emergencies that surround us. He creates community activity and cultural events, and is an experienced platform speaker. Richard’s work was described in 2015 by the Institute of Welsh Affairs as that of a ‘think tank’ and in 2022 Richard has brought together much of his work of the last nine years, exploring community, Wales, relationship, identity, landscape, economy and the question of what it means to be human, to form a new charity Coleridge Cymru which is launching a new secular public think tank called The Company of Ideas.

Richard lives in South Wales

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