Wales

It may be renowned worldwide for its breathtaking scenery, but Snowdonia has also been a mecca for artists for almost 170 years.

Way back in 1844, Britain's first colony of artists was formed in the village of Betws-y-Coed in the Conwy Valley.

The fashion at the time centred on landscape painting and after visits in the 1790s from JMW Turner and some of his contemporaries, including David Cox who spent his summers in the village at the Royal Oak Hotel, the area became a firm favourite for those seeking rugged landscapes for the subject of their creations.

In the years that followed a stream of artists including Henry Clarence Whaite, George Popkin, James Whittaker, Thomas Collier, John Syer, Benjamin Williams Leader, Lawrence Coppard and George Harrison used the area as a base, eventually migrating along the Conwy Valley to escape the influx of tourists and holiday villas.

In 1882, Whaite and other colony artists were instrumental in founding the Royal Cambrian Academy in Conwy.

It is with this strong tradition in mind that the Snowdonia Arts Festival was formed three years ago - to celebrate that era while showcasing the best work on offer from contemporary artists living in the region now.

This year's festival, where most events are free, takes place from 5-7 October, with a wealth of work from photographers, craftsmen and women, visual artists and musicians on offer.

Guitarist Samuel Moore performing in 2011. Photo: Chasing the Light Photography

Those exhibiting include textile artist Josie Russell, and Alison Bradley, who works in charcoal and oils, painting local scenes from the north Wales landscape.

Visitors will also be able to see work by the photographers Peirino Algeiri and John Davies, who are showing a range of images and carved wooden birds, as well as a collaborative exhibition of new work by John Hedley, Diana Footer and Graham Hemborough.

This year for the first time, centre-stage on the village green (Cae Llan), will be a festival marquee, hosting a varied programme of talks, shows and workshops, including work from the Gwynedd and Clwyd Association of Craftworkers and craft workshops for children on both mornings.

There will also be talks about Snowdonia and its heritage as an arts location and performances by a variety of musicians including the Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir and the North Wales Saxophone Choir.

Those interested in the area's artistic legacy can enjoy a 'Walk of Art', which takes in some of the more significant locations of the 1844-1914 Artists' Colony.

For full information on events visit the website snowdoniaartsfestival.org.uk.

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