Reading the Rocks: The Remarkable Maps of William Smith
24 September 2016 - 26 March 2017
© National Museum of Wales
The Pembrokeshire Coast is renowned for its spectacular and varied geology, one of the reasons it was given National Park status in 1952. But how is it that we know what lies beneath our feet as we walk the coastal path?
At Oriel y Parc this autumn, discover the story of William Smith, the man who developed what is regarded as the first true geological map of any country. Smith transformed understanding of rock strata, and discovered that fossils could be used to identify rock sequences. His work had great practical application for locating coal and other raw materials, at a time when the industrial revolution was in full swing.
200 years after his monumental A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales, with part of Scotland, Smith’s beautifully hand-coloured maps are icons in the world of geology. Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum of Wales holds more original versions of these huge, spectacular maps than any other public institution in the world. Two different editions are fully displayed in this exhibition along with unique documents and smaller maps, all depicting the story of Smith’s life and work.
This exhibition was originally shown at National Museum Cardiff in 2015, as part of the William Smith Bicentennial celebrations. The Learning activities are funded with thanks to SRK Consulting.
To coincide with Reading the Rocks, Oriel y Parc will also be exhibiting The Colour of the Earth: Art and the Material Landscape**. In 2015, as part of a residency at the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, artist Rodney Harris recreated William Smith’s map of 1815 using geological pigments made from corresponding ground-up rock samples from each area of the UK. The resulting full-scale map is a unique and surprising overview of the true colours of the British landscape.
Harris’s map will be on display at Oriel y Parc, alongside work by four artists for whom the material or geological nature of the Pembrokeshire coast has been a starting point for their practice – Adam Buick, Brendan Stuart Burns, Mike Perry and Graham Sutherland. The works on show present a fresh perspective, inspired not by views but by the forms and textures of the physical surface of the landscape - the colour of the earth itself.
The gallery showcases artists' interpretations of landscape, taken from
Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales' collection of art and antiquities.
Oriel y Parc Gallery is a unique collaboration between Amgueddfa Cymru and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, in which services for visitors are joined by displays from the national collections to celebrate the landscape.
Admission is free and the building is fully accessible. For opening times and events please see the Oriel y Parc website.