prints, photographs, and original works of art by Anthony "ginger" cain and nial cain
prints, photographs, and original works of art by Anthony "ginger" cain and nial cain
ARTIST AND CLIMBER
Anthony “Ginger” Cain started climbing in his early teens in the Lake District, initially with schoolfriends, but soon with notable Lakeland climbers, including Arthur Dolphin. Later, on returning to Liverpool, he climbed with the hard men and eccentrics who compromised the Wallasey club. They climbed in North Wales, getting there by any means possible, climbing hard and living fast and rough. Mainly weekends, these climbing excursions were what each lived for, the humdrum existence of the intervening week an inconvenience that had to be endured. No tents, so sleeping was initially under the Llanberis Pass boulders, but later a roadman's hut was a welcome advance in the standard of accommodation. Transport was anything that got you here to climb, from thumb to motorbike, old bread van to cadged lift. The primitive equipment used ranged from wartime surplus - rucksacks, anoracks, capes, to the ingeniously improvised - rope protection slings were at that time made using car wheel nuts scrounged from a friendly garage, the thread drilled out and sharp edges rounded off so the rope of the sling would not be damaged. Although there was little purpose-made equipment - this was years before Clog started up in the old Deiniolen Cinema - carabiners and pitons were occasionally available, and hemp ropes were giving way to the much superior nylon. Boots were large and heavy, nailed with “tricounis” – before the arrival of PA’s the harder and more savvy climbers climbed in gym shoes, bare feet or even socks.
Mountaineering had begun as a distinctly upper-class pursuit, and primarily Alpine-based - the Alpine Club was founded in 1857 . But after the Kinder Scout mass tresspass, and also impetus given by demobilisations after the second world war this began to change. This new egalitarian groundswell of climbers without access to independent means were unable to afford Alpine holidays and guides, and instead explored the local climbing resources. Most of the Wallesey Club climbers were working class, and not a few had a trade. This came in useful when there began to be a veritable exodus to North Wales in the 1960s. Exchanging labour between themselves was de rigeur, and enabled renovating derelict cottages, of which there were at that time many to be leased or bought cheaply. A strategy enthusiastically embraced by Ginger and his now-wife Vera, first leasing, then buying a derelict farmhouse and cottage above Deiniolen. Vera worked in their friends Joe and Val Brown’s new shop in Llanberis, and Ginger began to take his painting very seriously, informing his earlier works with knowledge of geological structures, the colouration of which utilised a system whereby colours were cross referenced on a piano with painted keyboard to themes from classical music. Ginger also worked as a mountain guide, and climbed as often as he could, which was frequently. This was a creatively fruitful period, and he began to be moderately successful, exhibiting and enjoying some reputation, acquiring a clientele which eventually included, apart from the painter L S Lowry, some of the most notable British mountaineers of the era, including Mo Anthoine, Chris Bonington, Joe Brown, Mick Burke, Nick Estcourt, Lord Hunt, Jack Longland, Doug Scott and Don Whillans.
“I like to think sometimes I manage to catch a light, a history, an atmosphere...”
Nial Cain was born at the tail end of the fifties and grew up in North Wales. Musician, photographer, and luthier, he became interested in film photography during working for his fine art degree, where he specialised in printmaking. More recently he has embraced the possibilities offered by digital photography. A lifelong interest in the industrial archeology of the Welsh slate industry informs some of his work as does the inherited affinity for mountains and wild places.
When his parents announced their decision to retire at the well-deserved ages of 90 and 91 during lockdown he decided to curate his father's legacy, taking over the Mountain Art Gallery in Llanberis, and distribution of prints. This entailed familiarising himself with the printing, mounting and framing processes and when this was achieved authoring a replacement website that would better showcase his father's unique body of work. He also decided he would offer some of his own photographic work on this new website, together with his fathers prints, hoping they would mutually enhance each other.
All recent paper prints are on high-quality, heavyweight 315gsm matte photographic paper by Fotospeed, printed using a professional Canon printer utilising a 12 ink system. Pigments/inks are estimated to last at least 80 years without fading. The canvas prints are exact, size-accurate copies of originals, again printed with archival quality inks, and utilising the very best quality canvas and stretchers. Some of the earlier prints are high-quality lithographic reproductions.
Considerable care is taken to ensure fidelity to the original artworks and retain their vibrancy.
"...the print is absolutely stunning! The colours are so much lovelier in person, and the print is such beautiful quality.
We've been admiring the store every time we go through Llanberis for quite a few years, so to own some of your and your father's art now is quite special."
"Please excuse my delayed response. This is to let you know that the prints arrived safe and sound just a few weeks ago.
They're really lovely and I can't wait to get them framed and put on display.
I'm very proud to know their provenance.
Your Father and his colleagues and contemporaries were hugely influential and iconic on so many levels - leaving a trail of colours and echoes of adventure that stretched from the mountains of North Wales and beyond to the schools and youth clubs in our small town on the Wirral.
Thank you very much!"
I'm very sad to have to pass on that Ginger has been diagnosed with Vascular Dementia. He developed this during lockdown and Vera is convinced not getting out to the climbing wall exacerbated its onset. A recent scan confirmed areas of brain scar tissue - very possibly from mini-strokes.
He is happy enough in himself, but his memory is unreliable and unpredictable - often not there at all for the recent, sometimes clearly remembering friends or events from years ago. Thank you all for the kind messages accompanying orders, which I always show him, and which make him smile.
Scroll down for some news of this painting and a special offer!
AN EXCITING FIND
While searching for a print of Cwm Glas in A2 size in connection with a recent enquiry I was investigating a set of shelves, one of the places where Ginger had stored lithographic editions, the earlier prints of his work.
On the very top was a dusty folio wrapped in brown paper, which I opened.
Quite a few early pictures, from the sixties, in the Rotring pen and watercolour style he used then, a nod to cubism.
But the most interesting was a picture of Dinorwic Quarry, Chwarel Dinorwig, painted in 1968 before the quarry closed, and a decade before the pumped storage scheme obliterated so much. A real discovery.
Sinc Wellington is I think the quarrymens name for the quarry pool in the foreground, now it is of course part of Llyn Peris. The pinnacle was known as Ceiliog Mawr, the Great Cockrel, and as a teenager I scrambled to the top and added my name to the others there.
This work will now be available as a print in all sizes, titled 'Dinorwig 68'
I recently splashed out and bought some high-quality lighting, and have been re-photographing some of the originals to which I have access, very brightly lit and at a neutral colour temperature.
Then there's a long process of digitally cleaning, editing and tweaking for colour accuracy. After that I'm able to prepare very high resolution master files to print from. So far, Castell y Gwynt, Llyn Idwal, Aonach Eagach, Craig Cae - Cadair Idris, Dinorwig 68, Bowfell - Langdale, Nantlle Ridge from Mynydd Mawr, Piz Badile and Cadair 73 have been upgraded, and Cadair 73 now has a full size 4' x 3' canvas print available. All sizes, A4, A3 and A2 will now be printed from the new files, with incremental but worthwhile advances in detail, colour accuracy and vibrancy.
Ogwen 73 is one of Ginger's best loved works, and is in a lot of homes. Sadly though, the file from which prints were made was very old and probably dated from the early days of digital photography, of which technology he was an early adapter. I'd worked extensively on the file to improve what was there, and notwithstanding the low resolution the print remained very popular.
I recently learned of the whereabouts of the original, and was very kindly given access with camera, lights and tripod to get a first class image to edit.
And dear me, what an edit was needed. The picture had not been cared for carefully in the intervening years. There was a large area of damp damage in the sky, some more in the lake, there were runs where some liquid had been spilt in about half a dozen places, and even a couple of areas where paint had been abraded away to the canvas. Many hours later, digital invisible mending has it looking pristine again.
Of course, the A4, A3 and A2 prints look wonderful, but I'm particularly pleased to now be able to offer a lifesize canvas print, 1300mm x 890mm which is superlatively good.
I'm also moved to make an offer to existing owners of Ogwen 73 - if you would like one of the new high resolution prints, on fine art paper and printed with non fading archival quality inks if you return your print in any condition I will supply the new one at half price, or give a reduction of one hundred pounds from the canvas print, until further notice. Please email to arrange if you would like to take up the offer.
Very sorry, but the Mountain Art gallery closed until further notice