Sunday, 3 April 2011

Meryl Watts, Welsh printmaker

Meryl Watts


English Painter and woodblock printer.

I have long been in doubt as to write this posting. It’s not a home match. Also when I stumbled upon some examples of prints by Meryl Watts I was very much annoyed by the poor quality of (all !) the pictures.

(John Edgar Platt (Underground London Zoo poster 1924)

Ridden with moisture (foxing), heavily stained and dirty. All of them. To this day I am not sure why. Maybe it has to do with coastal Portmeirion, Wales, England. All examples shown on the internet seem to have a local owners origin. But they look as if they’d been tucked away in the garden shed. For decades. How sad. How very sad. (John Edgar Platt)

Meryl Watts was an active and flamboyant member of Portmeirions community after she and her family were bombed out of London’s East End in 1943. Am enthousiast smoker, very social and married well in her 60’s to English professor Joseph Stanly Allen she was a real local bohemian and icon in Portmeirion in the 50-60’s.(London, Blackheath, this early print clearly showing the influence from teacher J.E. Platt to teacher Urushibara)

(John Edgar Platt)

(L: Meryl Watts - R: John Edgar Platt)

She sold her work, paintings, prints and postcards in touristic Portmeirion, the mediteranian build town and dream of architect Sir Clough William Ellis to whom and his family Meryl had a special relationship. Roughly between 1943 and 1968. In most examples shown here I have taken the liberty, time and trouble to "remove" the stains, the gray shade of dust and durt and “cleaning” them in Photoshop. (The three little lambs, and the moonfish, the snow pine i.p.) You may think of it what you like but for the purpous of showing them here I think it has done them well. They deserved it. Her prints are numbered x/50 so there must be enough still around. I traced some 30 different prints. Some very nice animal prints but many are of the surrounding and beautiful Wales. To my surprise I learned she was a pupil of John Edgar Platt (1886-1967) at Blackheath School of Art, London. Today I show you my choice. The apprentice- and relationship to John Edgar Platt is very undeniable and obvious in many of her prints. I personally think she’s great. The wash like structure of the background very much in the old tradition. And is so difficult to get it right. In every print. I’ve added some of Platt’s prints for the interest of comparing. In her days Meryl exhibited at the Royal Academy 1938 and after the War worldwide with the British Council. I hope you’ll enjoy this acquaintance with this remarkable but almost forgotten artist.


  1. Nice range of stuff here. I didn't know she was as varied as this. Another useful post. I get the feeling her work just doesn't come up thjat often.

  2. Here work never comes up. I wondered about that too. I am under the impression that most of her prints available and accescable through the internet are from the same privat and local source(s). Either her editions were very limited, or the prints weren't a succes, or they've just disapeared over the years because they might have been sold and bought as "just" souvenirs. But she was way too good for that. So I am curiuous who will solve this mystery because I think she belongs to the masters of the medium in that era in the UK. Won't you agree ?
    PS: I am very happy with this first comment after 5 months. She deserves more attention.

  3. I must admit when I first saw her work on C2oth gallery site, I thought it was too simple for the price. The one thing that will lift printmakers out of obscurity is a quantity of prints for sale.