There was an ‘Everlasting’ memory for music and art fans at Tenby Museum last Friday when Welsh rocker and lyricist Nicky Wire was on hand to open his first ever exhibition - ‘Paintings and Polaroids’ - in the town that holds a special place in his heart.
Not only was Nicky present to open the exhibition, and talk through his artwork and love of Tenby, where he has owned a flat for the past 12 years, but he also welcomed his Manic Street Preachers bandmate James Dean Bradfield to the ‘Museum and Art Gallery’ located on Castle Hill, who officially declared the show open with a couple of well known ditties.
The exhibition showcases the bassist’s work and love of the Polaroid camera, which he took out with him on the road when the band first started performing and touring in the early 90s, with much of the artwork on display showing Nicky’s influences from musicioand and artists such as -Bowie, Dylan Thomas, Philip Larkin, John Uzzell Edwards, Marilyn Monroe, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Vivian Maier, Yayoi Kusama, Richter, Tracey Emin, Bert Stern and Miles Davis.
“These artworks are mini tributes to people and places that have given me comfort and inspiration over the years,” said Nicky.
“I grew up obsessed by Polaroid, the beauty and simplicity, and how the accidental moment caught the initial vivid colour and the eventual sad fade.
“I’m so pleased to be having my first exhibition in Tenby, I hąve been lucky enough to have a flat here for the last 12 years and it is a very special place with such a rich artistic history.
“The exhibition is a celebration of inspiration, from Warhol’s repeated images, to the quilt paintings of John Uzzell Edwards, as well as Yayoi Kusama, Richter, Tracey Emin, Bert Stern, Dylan Thomas, Miles Davis - the list is endless.
“It’s more nerve wracking than any gig I have done as a musician!” he added.
Nicky has spoken about his love of Tenby in the past, when the Manics’ album ‘Rewind the Film’ which featured some of his artwork, was released five years ago.
“I think Tenby is unique, and I’ve been to loads of seaside towns. It’s kind of self-contained, still working - you can go to an art gallery, have a great cappuccino, an amazing bag of chips, and just wander around on the beach.
“Having a place down here has been more than inspirational - it has inspired a lot of my lyrics, especially ‘Postcard from a Young Man’ - that album in particular.
“I remember my first trip to Tenby vividly when I was about seven to ten - the shops were still open at night, and we had a fantastic bag of chips and played cricket on the beach!
“The first thing that hits you is the harbour itself - it is truly picturesque. You have South Beach, North Beach, the view to Caldey - the town itself incased by the original Castle walls - a fantastic Georgian terrace, all the blue plaques for Augustus John, Gwen John, Nina Hamnett, Beatrix Potter, and the museum itself - everything a man could need!
“For me it’s just the stillness of it - the minute I get down here, everything just slows down.
“It’s a very historical and artistic town, and makes me a bit of a better person when I’m down here,” he remarked.
Before the exhibition began, Nicky’s bandmate James Dean Bradfield arrived with acoustic guitar in hand to run through a couple of songs to play to the invited crowd on opening night.
A quick ciggie outside and a chat about which Tenby pub to visit later that night ‘suitable for a rocker who turns 50 next’ - and singer James was back in the room to perform the band’s first chart topper - ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’ on the anniversary of the release of their number one album ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’ which it was taken from, along with ‘International Blue’ the lead single from the Manics’ latest release ‘Resistance Is Futile’.
James joked with the crowd that he and Nicky shared the same art class in school, but that even though he got a commendable ‘C grade’ - Nicky always showed his artistic credentials would shine through by going one better with a ‘B’.
Mark Lewis, Tenby Museum and Art Gallery’s curator welcomed everyone to the ‘the first ever solo art exhibition by Nicholas Jones’ - who everyone would probably know better as ‘Nicky Wire - a talented musician, writer and artist’ and also the ‘inveterate photographer and archivist’ for the band, who the weekend before had just played to an audience of 50,000 at Hyde Park.
“18 months ago I never believed that Nicky would actually agree to my suggestion of an exhibition here, but because of his continual love of Tenby and support for this museum he said yes straight away,” said Mark.
“I know that over the last few weeks he has perhaps slightly regretted this agreement, but this exhibition tonight shows that he had no reason for reticence where the eloquence of the lyric is represented in visual form.
On declaring the exhibition open, Mark joked that this would be the first of many successful art shows for Nicky as he had his number on ‘speed dial’ before congratulting him on the occasion.
The show is open to the public until October 21 and can be seen daily between 10 am and 5 pm (last admission 4.30 pm).