This Spring The Art Shop is showing exciting work by nineteen current members of 56 Group Wales, one of Wales’s longest established and most prestigious exhibiting groups of artists.

Founded in 1956 as 56 Group by artists Eric Malthouse, David Tinker and Michael Edmonds , it originally had twelve members of whom Arthur Giardelli, a key figure in the Group’s history, is still a regular exhibitor. The Group’s name expressed a desire to be of the moment. Intended as a focal point for innovation and internationalism, it was an antidote to conservative influences which had dominated many exhibiting groups and galleries. A major concern was that avant-garde artists in Wales had few opportunities to exhibit their work. Original members included the Expressionist painter Heinz Koppel and the abstract artist Robert Hunter. Intriguingly, the first exhibition in 1957 took place outside Wales at Worcester Museum & Art Gallery.

In 1967 the Group became 56 Group Wales, emphasising its Welsh identity in both national and international arenas. Around a hundred exhibitions have taken place involving nearly as many artists, many of them influential art teachers. A core of long-term members have provided continuity whilst significant artists have also been involved for shorter periods. The Group has been notable in developing links outside Wales, side-stepping difficulties of showing art from Wales in London by setting up exhibitions in The Netherlands, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Italy and Ireland as well as widely around England and Scotland.