Saturday, 14 July 2012

Portmeirion, North Wales

Portmeirion is a popular tourist village in Gwynedd, North Wales. It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village. He incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects. Portmeirion's architectural bricolage and deliberately fanciful nostalgia have been noted as an influence on the development of postmodernism in architecture in the late 20th century.

Lowry, Jan Gabrial and Tom Forman stayed at the hotel on a visit to North Wales between 29th - 30th September 1933 after flying from Heston to RAF Hooton Park; "Even before we left the airport Malc had started to drink in earnest and when the car arrived to take us to Portmeirion - nearly a four hour drive - he was alternately loquacious and ugly and maudlin and driveling. The hotel is lovely. Everything else is merde". (Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg.26).

The main building of the hotel was built around 1850 (extended by Clough Williams-Ellis in 1926 & 1930) was the original mansion of Aber Iâ.and first described by Richard Richards in 1861 as "one of the most picturesque of all the summer residences to be found on the sea-coast of Wales.” When Clough discovered it in 1925 he was faced with dereliction and an overgrown wilderness. "I obviously had to use the old house on the sea's edge for something and, if I wanted a village, it would have to have an economic basis and the obvious thing seemed to be tourism. It was at Easter 1926, after less than a year's preparation, that the original old house, little altered, opened somewhat tentatively as an unlicensed hotel."

Lowry and Jan Gabrial walked around the grounds of the village on Saturday 30th September; "M and I took a short walk, then I wrote letters." (Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg.27).

At some point in October 1933, Lowry and Jan Gabrial may have returned to the hotel, "However, when we settled for a time at Portmeirion Malc played a more positive role in discussing what I was writing."((Jan Gabrial Inside The Volcano Pg.28).

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