It has been described that Wales was the first colony of England. Indeed, ever since Edward I’s ‘Ring of Iron’ castles were built, England has been the dominant power. When the Welsh-descended Tudors came to power in 1485, any hopes of a reversal of the balance of power were quickly smothered when Wales was annexed to England - not the other way around!
Has Wales, therefore, been the victim of an abusive domestic relationship? As the dominant partner, England has, at one time or another and to varying extents, exerted coercive controlling behaviour, physical violence, economic oppression and exploitation upon its less powerful neighbour.
Despite, or perhaps because of this, the Welsh are fiercely proud of their nation: the passion displayed at international rugby matches, for example, clearly demonstrates this; how many English children go to school sporting a red rose on St George’s day compared to those who wear a daffodil in Wales on March 1st?
Yet this idea of a single Welsh nation is a relatively modern construction. There has never been a single ruler of the whole of Wales who hasn’t also ruled England, and many of the modern symbolic perceptions that imbue the Welsh culture (Welsh-lady costumes, harps, daffodils, bardic festivals etc) are 19th century constructions - reinforced largely by the likes of the formidable Augusta Hall, Lady Llanover (1802 - 1896) and Iolo Morganwg. The Welsh national anthem, was only composed in 1856, Cardiff was only awarded capital city status in 1955 whereas the Welsh flag was only adopted officially in 1959.
Has a myth that the Welsh had, at one time, lost their ‘nation’ to the English, mean that they have over-compensated by forming a new and even stronger national identity? Does this make the Welsh more attached to loss than other nations? When things are deemed to be taken and then regained, are they more appreciated than if they hadn’t gone at all? Do we, therefore, need loss to appreciate what we have?
If so, then its portrayal through art is immensely important and, whilst I seek to pose more questions than I do provide answers, this is my own exploration of the landscapes of Welsh loss that I am pleased to share.