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Inspirational Tenby

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For those seeking inspiration from intellectual property this summer – try Tenby.

Gary Redford’s image of Tenby for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Gary Redford’s image of Tenby for Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

What makes the iconic British beach holiday memorable? It’s not the weather – that can be quite changeable. It’s not the experimental cuisine – fish and chips is popular because it can’t really be changed. It’s not the traffic jams, the dropped ice creams, the getting lost, the forgotten phone charger. There’s something intangible about the allure of the British summer holiday by the seaside.

Defining images

Perhaps the award-winning image above, showing Tenby’s North beach in glorious, Pembrokeshire sunshine, sums it up.  For Mike James, former Chair of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, the campaign, based on iconic locations within the Park, 'captured the spirit and feel of the National Park, as well as the public’s imagination.’

The image connects us with our childhoods – it reminds us all of endless, happy days on the beach, whether they were real or not.

Places in the sun

Tenby’s allure is predicated on the fact that no matter how many people visit the same place, each will create a personal memory of it. Artists are the ones who seek to pin those moments of inspiration to the wall. In places like Tenby, where tourism has been thriving for centuries, the pictures painted by and for visitors create a reality of their own, transforming the place. Each artist adds to the whole as they produce unique views of their own.

One of the first images of Tenby harbour was painting by William Golding in 1799.
One of the first images of Tenby harbour was painting by William Golding in 1799.

The first holiday snap

William Golding’s bright blue canvass gives the Bay of Carmarthen more than a hint of the Bay of Naples. The church tower and crescent shaped harbour are the same as those in the National Park’s poster. And there are tourists on the beach too, except here they are using bathing machines. Three centuries ago visitors were already playing on the beach.

Magnet for artists

Mark Lewis, curator of Tenby Museum, which is picturesquely perched on Castle Hill overlooking the miles of golden sand says:

I think what artists were and are attracted to is the light. The light changes every day. You see every picture is a different interpretation and artists like Gwen John, David Jones, Turner, Lucien Freud and countless others have been pulled towards it.

West coast artists

Naomi Tydeman
Naomi Tydeman

Naomi Tydeman (RI) has a gallery in Cobb Lane in the heart of Tenby. Her work has been exhibited throughout the UK and featured on national TV. For Naomi:

Tenby Harbour has to be one of the most photographed and most painted views in Wales, and finding a different angle, a different atmosphere, is the challenge for me as an artist. Taking something so recognisable, so familiar, and seeing it with fresh eyes is difficult and quite often I have to go away and come back again, to see it as if for the first time. And I keep coming back, light and beauty being magnets and the gentle challenge being the iron filings.

Hyper-real – Naomi Tydeman’s First light on the harbour
Naomi Tydeman’s First light on the harbour - © Naomi Tydeman

For artist Guy Manning, who has a gallery a few medieval streets away in Upper Frog Street, the view is similar… but different.

Tenby can be approached by land and by sea, from several directions. One's viewpoint of this magical town is ever-changing. Its beaches and cliffs, walls and nooks, lanes and houses are never the same: the tides, light, seasons, crowds: ebb and flow, come and go. It is complex, simple, timeless and always on-the-go. Quick-quick-slow. I love it.

Guy Manning painting
Guy Manning
After the storm – Tenby’s South Beach by Guy Manning
After the storm – Tenby’s South Beach by Guy Manning - © Guy Manning

As well as artists, Tenby attracts visitors from all over the world. For the past seven years Tenby has hosted the Ironman Wales triathlon and also become home to Activity Wales' Long Course Weekend. The swimmers, cyclists and runners who take part don't have time to paint, but they are inspired by the fact they feel part of an iconic landscape.


Artists create value. Copyright protects their work as soon as it is composed. If you visit Naomi or Guy’s studios this summer, you’ll find them creating new work as you browse. Their paintings record their understanding of place and embody lifetimes spent mastering timeless techniques. Copyright underpins the creative economy and it guarantees the business model for artists. Buying paintings is about participating in this creative process.

On the other hand, like all of our great holiday destinations, Tenby is free for us all to look at, sit on and sketch. Perhaps this year, wherever you go, you’ll create your own valuable image and copyright.

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