Brenda Irene Chamberlain
|Born||March 17, 1912|
|Died||July 11, 1971 (aged 59)|
|Education||Royal Academy Schools|
|Known for||Painting, poetry|
Brenda Irene Chamberlain (17 March 1912 – 11 July 1971) was a Welsh artist, poet and novelist. She also wrote a memoir of 15 years spent living on Bardsey Island. She won the first two Gold Medals awarded by the National Eisteddfod of Wales in the Fine Art category, for her paintings Girl with a Siamese Cat (1951) and The Cristin Children (1953). An expatriate on the island of Hydra, Greece, from 1961 to 1967, she then returned to Wales, where she died in 1971. Her papers are preserved by the National Library of Wales; examples of her artworks are found in several collections.
Chamberlain was born in Bangor, the daughter of Francis Thomas Chamberlain and Elsie Cooil Chamberlain. Her father worked for the railway. Her mother served a term on the Bangor Borough Council, and was later Mayor of Bangor during World War II. Brenda Chamberlain studied art at the Royal Academy Schools in London.
Before the Second World War, Chamberlain moved in with the artist John Petts. They married in 1935, but were divorced in 1944. In 1936 they moved to a cottage in Rachub, a village near Bethesda, where they ran the Caseg Press with the poet Alun Lewis, producing postcards and bookplates, for which Chamberlain made woodcuts. Caseg Broadsheets featured poetry by Chamberlain and others. The cottage they shared, Ty'r Mynydd, bears a plaque commemorating their work.
Chamberlain also produced prose works, including a novel (The Water Castle, 1964) and Tide-Race, a memoir of life at Carreg, Bardsey Island, where she lived and worked from 1947 until 1962. The publication of Tide-Race coincided with a solo exhibition of Chamberlain's paintings at the Zwemmer Gallery in London.
In 1961 Chamberlain went to live on the Greek island of Hydra, but returned to Wales in 1967. She died in 1971, age 59, in Bangor, after an overdose of sedatives. Her remains were interred at Glanadda Cemetery, Ffordd Caernarfon.
There are artworks by Chamberlain in the collections of the National Museum Wales, National Library of Wales, Bangor University, Cyfarthfa Castle and Royal Holloway, University of London. There is a collection of her papers, including sketches, letters, poems, photographs, diaries, and unpublished works, in the National Library of Wales.
- The Green Heart (1958)
- Tide-Race (1962) (ISBN 9780907476658)
- The Water Castle (1964) (ISBN 978-1908069795)
- A Rope of Vines (1965) (ISBN 9781905762866)
- Poems with Drawings (1969) (ISBN 0901111066)
- Alun Lewis and the Making of the Caseg Broadsheets, 1969 (ISBN 9780901111074)
- Kate Holman, Brenda Chamberlain, 1997 (ISBN 9780708310489)
- Jill Piercy, Brenda Chamberlain, Artist & Writer, 2013 (ISBN 9781906998233)
- Jill Piercy, Brenda Chamberlain: Artist and Writer (Parthian Books 2013). ISBN 9781906998233
- "Brenda Chamberlain" Wales Arts, BBC Cymru Wales.
- "Finding Aid – Brenda Chamberlain manuscripts (GB 0210 MSBREAIN)" (PDF). National Library of Wales. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
- Alison Smith, John Petts and the Caseg Press (Ashgate 1999). ISBN 9780754600343
- SH6268: Ty'r mynydd, Mountain Street, Rachub, Geograph.org.uk
- "Brenda Chamberlain – 1912-1971". Writers Plaques. Literature Wales. Archived from the original on 23 April 2017.
- "Brenda Chamberlain and Bardsey Island" Archived 5 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Bardsey Island Trust.
- Peter Lord (2000). The Visual Culture of Wales: Imaging a Nation. University of Wales Press, Cardiff. ISBN 0708315879.
- Gold Medal for Fine Art Archived 30 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine, The National Eisteddfod of Wales. Retrieved 24 October 2014.
- ArtUK.org, Brenda Chamberlain.
- Brenda Chamberlain MSS, National Library of Wales.
- Kate Holman, Brenda Chamberlain (University of Chicago Press 1997). ISBN 9780708310489
- 18 artworks by or after Brenda Chamberlain at the Art UK site
- "Fonds GB 0210 MSBREAIN - Brenda Chamberlain manuscripts". – archive held at the National Library of Wales