As claims to fame go, it’s not exactly up there with being Neil Armstrong’s next door neighbour. Or now living in one of The Beatles’ former des res’. However, there’s a clue here as to just what critically acclaimed contemporary equine artist, Huw Williams’ claim to (sort of) fame is. Aside from being a ruddy good equine artist suffice to say. Location, location, location. The hit Channel 4 TV programme of the late 1990s and 2000s that is; so therefore it should have read like this, ‘Location, Location, Location’ if we’re being grammatically familiar and punctually obedient.
That’s right, in the late 90s Huw and his wife, Jane were upping their native Welsh sticks, and looking to swap them for Scottish sticks. Which is why they approached Kirsty and Phil to help them discover the perfect new bolthole on the budget they were operating to at the time the programme was being made. Williams wasn’t just ‘another’ of ‘Location, Location, Location’s’ contestants (if that’s the right word? Subject matters, perhaps sounds better?), as he was the rating-winning shows’ debut featured clients. Yup, the first couple to ever appear on the hugely popular (and long-running) television series.
So, there’s the intro, and what of the artist you may well be asking at this stage? Well, Williams was born and bred in North Wales, although had edged closer to that other noted Celtic country a little earlier in his career, when studying for his degree in Art Illustration at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, whilst had also been registered living at addresses in Leicester and Manchester during his earlier years. But Williams felt the time was of the essence when he decided he wanted to relocate north of Hadrian’s Wall, and with the help of Alsop and Spencer found themselves the ideal setting for Williams to continue to pursue his creative endeavours. Only with a bit more elbow room at the disposal, on account of the sizeable nature of his huge oil paintings. Of horses, if you recall. But there was of course another ulterior motif for the extra land that they’d asked the TV property team to pinpoint for them; that being it had to be somewhere which could accommodate Jane’s equestrian business too.
In terms of background, Williams himself had been classically trained, but had set his heart on a career as a magazine illustrator first and foremost. But Williams returned to what he admits was his first love, painting, at precisely the time that his family acquired their first thoroughbred horse. Taking up the reigns (sorry, story), Williams adds; “Jane bought Mia in the early 1990s and I began sketching her straight away,” going on to recall; “Then, as friends saw my work around the place, requests for other horse portraits started coming in and before long I found I was busy painting all day long”.
Working out of what he describes as this huge old farm studio in Perthshire, Williams was since amassed a serious and enviable reputation as one of the UK’s foremost equestrian artists, renown for producing both stylish and stylised compositions which have gone on to find new homes in (some well-known) private and prestigious corporate collections throughout Britain to date. These include the likes of The Meydan, Dubai and TAK Singapore, whilst on UK shores we’re talking about The Royal Bank of Scotland, The Prudential, Lloyds and Ivanhoe.
It’s clear to see that horses dominate Williams' mind-set as well, as his immediate landscape one way or another, and his specific brand of compositional art, if having to explain it to the novice, is nothing short of stunning in its execution. Striking stallions for the most illustrative part, depicting this epic power, natural fluidity and movement; all characteristically committed to canvases which can often measure some 12ft or more in height (and sometimes equal girth), and routinely completed in his signature oils. These magnanimous pieces can take in some cases up to 6 weeks from start to finish.