Naomi Tydeman is one of those people who fell in love with Pembrokeshire in her twenties, while on holiday, and decided to stay. Born in Malaysia to a Royal Airforce family ,she has always travelled widely.
“I get itchy feet every few years,” she tells me at her gallery in Cobb Lane Tenby.
Fortunately for art lovers, Naomi’s heart has kept her rooted here in Pembrokeshire for many years now. While her feet may take her on forays into the bigger world, her home in Saundersfoot and her Gallery in Tenby are home.
Have you always painted?
“I remember sketching, from early childhood. Living in Malaysia, I would take myself off and draw.”
What did you draw?
“ It’s the colour I remember, Tropical sunsets, palm trees.”
Naomi goes on to tell me that she is largely self-taught.
“ I actually failed my art A level,” she tells me laughing,
I look around at her amazing work and am astonished.
A Teacher training course in which she earned a first for her dissertation followed. College confirmed for her that she definitely did not want to spend her life teaching. Art was her destiny.
“ Many people think that painting is a gift. I say it’s about discipline. It’s about getting up and getting on with the work.”
Do you work from photographs or life?
“Mainly I work from sketches for seascapes, but I also use photographs for things that move, like boats and flowers.”
So do you have a routine that you stick to?
“Absolutely. I work shop hours, from 11 to 5 each day. I paint here.” Naomi indicates the table in the window of her gallery where we are sitting now. Bowls of paint, and brushes are neatly arranged ready for action.
“People talk about having to be in the mood to paint. I don’t know how that works. I just paint.”
Having said that: it’s not an effortless life of dipping brushes into paint. Setting up the gallery , which has been in Cobb Lane for 21 years now, was very hard to start with, and continues to be a proper job.
“I work my socks off,” Naomi laughs, “people don’t see all the background work that is involved in running any business. Mounting my work, signing, preparation, admin , accounts ….all of that stuff takes a lot of time and is essential to running a business.”
Looking around, everything is so neat and organised. The gallery has a delightful quality of peace and order. Naomi’s commitment to her work is obvious and her successes have grown from her talent and that determined hard work.
In 2013 , Naomi won the Turner prize for Water colours with one of her Moonlight paintings. And it is no secret that for many years she has a been very committed member of the R.I. (The Royal Institute of Water Colours).
“It was my one driving ambition to become a member”, she tells me, “I began showing my work with them some years ago and was elected in 2004.”
Naomi has served on the R.I. council for 7 years as, Exhibition secretary and then Membership secretary.
“I loved my work with them. I met and worked with some wonderful people and have been able to keep my finger on the pulse of British watercolours, but I have just stepped down from the council very recently. It was a very difficult decision but I was spending so much time in London. Something had to change.”
And here is no doubt that Naomi has little time to spare in her busy life. She has had exhibitions of her work all over the world, including a 6 month touring exhibition in Italy. She exhibited in France last year ( 2017) and is planning a show in China in October. In addition, Naomi is donating her gallery from noon on Wednesday 25th July for a week to offer water based media originals from a group of artists for a fraction of the normal cost.
“We will have the work of forty R.I. members here. They will be selling their work at £195 a piece. It’s a great opportunity for someone to pick up a real bargain, as most of the works will be worth so much more than that. It also gives people the chance to meet some of their favourite artists without having to travel to the big city”.
Sounds wonderful. I would love to come back and write about that. So what else are you up to?
“Well summer is here ,and that means a lot of visitors to the area. It’s everybody’s busiest time in Pembrokeshire.”
So it will be full on. Tell me, how do you relax?
“I walk my dog Baggins and I paint.”
Where do you like to go?
“My favourite bit of the coast is between Solva and St Davids. The recession of headlands that recede into a Western light is an inspiration, and a lovely place to walk. So is Monkstone Point. There is no site more stunning than that for me. I return to it in my work again and again.”
While we have been talking, a steady stream of visitors has been walking through the gallery. Some have questions, some just wish to browse. Some of them have come in to express their admiration, and some have come with the clear intention of buying one of these beautiful paintings, or at the very least, a print or very reasonably priced greetings card. I couldn’t resist bagging two for myself.
I have taken up enough of Naomi’s time, although she is far too friendly and welcoming to say so, I don’t want to outstay my welcome. I thoroughly enjoyed our meeting and sincerely hope that Naomi likes the article I already have percolating in my mind.
For more information about Naomi’s gallery and work please contact through her website: Naomi Tydeman.co.uk or
Naomi’s Gallery is at Cobb Lane , Tenby, SA70 7AR
The opening times are :11 to 5 Wednesday to Sunday
Closed Monday and Tuesday