Royal Cambrian Academy Art Gallery
The Royal Cambrian Academy of Art (RCA) was founded in 1881 to promote the work of artists in Wales. Today it has more than 100 artist members and shows their work in its gallery, a converted chapel. Follow the link below for opening hours and details of exhibitions.
The Academy’s founding artists were all members of the Betws-y-coed Artists’ Colony. Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, who lived in Flintshire and took his holidays in Penmaenmawr, persuaded Queen Victoria to be the academy’s patron. In April 1882 she gave permission for the academy’s name to receive the “Royal” prefix.
The first exhibition, with work by 47 artists, was held in Llandudno, chosen for its proximity to Betws-y-coed and “other sketching centres in the Vale of Conway”. In 1883 Swansea and Cardiff were among the options considered for a permanent RCA gallery. Rhyl offered suitable premises and hosted the 1883 summer exhibition. The 1885 exhibition was held in Cardiff.
Eventually Lord Mostyn offered the academy the use of Plas Mawr, Conwy, the Tudor town house which is now a museum. At that time the building was in poor condition. One part was used as an infants’ school, another as a stable! The RCA moved into Plas Mawr in 1886.
The RCA’s first president was Clarence Whaite, a landscape painter from Manchester who had settled in the Conwy Valley. Later presidents included Augustus John and Sir Kyffin Williams.
In 1993 the RCA moved from Plas Mawr to the building next door, the former Seion Independent Chapel, which had been converted into an art gallery. The chapel’s first minister, the Rev Richard Rowlands, died aged 33 in 1836. The chapel was modified in the 1850s and 1870s.
Postcode: LL32 8AN