Carey Morris (1882 - 1968)

Carey Morris was a Llandeilo artist who is not as well known as he deserves to be. He was born in 1882, and claimed descent from the famous Morris family, Morisiaid Môn,  brilliant brothers who originated in Anglesey and migrated to Cardiganshire and London.

His kinsman Sir Lewis Morris lived at Penbryn, Llangunnor. He went to Llandeilo Grammar School, eventually ending up at the Slade. Here he studied under Henry Tonks, a doctor who had given up medicine in his early thirties. He was, not unexpectedly, very keen on anatomy and Carey Morris worked hard at minute, painstaking studies of both surface anatomy and its underlying structure.

Morris and his wife Jessie Phillips, who was a journalist and the author of children’s books, which he illustrated, along with books by other authors, moved to Newlyn and became part of the artist colony there. Stanhope Forbes was a close friend and some of his Newlyn work was exhibited at the Royal Academy. Later they moved to London and he had a studio in Chelsea. Their circle of friends now came to include literary and musical figures as well as artists and he played the cello at conversaziones.  

Frank Brangwyn, John Nash and Evan Walters were frequent visitors. He made frequent visits to Llandeilo and the Towy Valley and here painted some of his best portraits. At his best, he was very good indeed; his anatomical training enabling him to produce an almost three-dimensional quality in his figures while the faces and eyes are  alive and full of personality. Many of these portraits are still in the homes of old Llandeilo families or with “expats”.

Having enlisted early in the war, he was badly gassed in the Flanders trenches. I remember being taken to his studio in the early 1940’s - he seemed a very old man, and his chest often rattled and wheezed from the effects of the gas. The studio always seemed very dark to me as a child and I longed to look at the canvases leaning against the walls, but I was very much in awe of him, although he was a kind and gentle man.
A plaque now marks the house, but his best memorials are on many walls in the area - unfortunately not on mine.

Jill Davies
Reproduced from THE FRIEND February 1999