Arthur H. Miles

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Arthur Henry Miles

Faversham, Kent, England
DiedDecember 28, 1987(1987-12-28) (aged 81–82)
Torbay, England
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Spouse(s)Enid Powell
Parent(s)Arthur William Miles and Emily May Stannard
RelativesFrank (brother)

Arthur Henry Miles (1905-1987) was a British painter, a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours - a society that goes back to 1831. Members can use RI after their name - a familiar part of Arthur Miles signature. The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours was initially called the New Society of Painters in Water Colours, and is one of the societies in the Federation of British Artists, based in the Mall Galleries in London.

declaring, “Painting the landscape is my trade. It is also my delight”- <Dictionary of Painters in Wales> He is further described as ‘'an accomplished water-colour painter; a pragmatic man with great intellectual and reasoning capabilities, which were coupled with a strong socialist conviction. Before his active period in painting landscape,1960 -1976, Arthur worked as a copy writer/ artist.

The National Museum Cardiff National Museum of Wales has examples of his art, which is still valued and is highly collectable.


Arthur Henry Miles was born in Faversham, Kent to Arthur William Miles and Emily May Stannard, who married in 1904. He had one brother, Frank, born in 1907. By 1911, the family had moved to Wales where he is recorded as living at 33, Manor Street Cardiff. In 1973 he moved to Tregarth, Gwaelod-y-Garth, South Wales.

In 1939, he married Lillian Hill, who died aged 33. They had one son, Anthony.

In 1940, Arthur married Enid Powell, formerly a Carmelite nun. They had two children - a daughter, Cressida, and a son, John Miles, born in Cardiff in 1944,who, according to [1]Robert Beer, in his article, The Visionary Art of John Miles, describes how John Miles was to become ''a flambouyant character and successful artist'' [2] nurtured by his father’s ‘'rational individuality’' and’ his mother’s love ‘'. A confident and self assured man, John had no doubts of his own artistic genius. He worked as a lecturer in the Torquay College of Art. Retiring early, he moved back to Cardiff, where he was to die of heat failure in his sleep, April 1997. [1]

^Arthur’s third wife, Valerie Miles (artist), was born near Bridgend in 1914, recorded as Minnie Beatrice Valerie. She came from a family with art at its core, saying, ''I have always been encouraged to use a pencil and paper. My parents made sure I was kept busy drawing.’' Her father, Samuel Sweet, was an engineer in the army in China but was also a skilled cartoonist. Her grandfather, William Allen, had been a mason and cabinet maker. Other family members were painters. South Wales Argus. Valerie Miles studied at art college on a County Major Scholarship. South Wales Argus (8 June1971) She had a career which spanned fashion to being a medical artist at Cardiff Royal Infirmary. During the war she was commissioned to make secret maps for Winston Churchill. Western Mail (Wales)(November 2 1996).She and her sister Hazel (born in 1921) were living in Penylan, Cardiff, when their house was hit by a German bomb. Valerie found herself '‘hanging upside down, protected by a Sheraton chest of drawers''. She retained the handles.

^During his marriage to Valerie, Arthur was a full time landscape painter, saying, “Painting the landscape is my trade. It is also my delight . Valerie devoted much of her time to promoting his work. During the year-long miner’s strike, in 1972, Arthur and Valerie held an exhibition and sale of paintings in their sitting room at Tregarth, with all proceeds going to the aid of striking men and their families. The sale raised exactly £6,000. Western Mail (Wales) November 1996). Valerie and Arthur had no children.

^1987 Arthur Miles died in Torbay on 28th December 1987 during a visit to his son, John. He left no will. His affairs were concluded through Administration. His paintings are still admired, collected and much sought after. The National Museum of Wales has examples of his art.[2]

Art in wales

Arthur Miles commented '‘Wales has little or no history of the visual arts.’' He felt there should be a school of native painters, stressing that ‘'Wales has only promoted poets’.- <Community Link. Pentrych Community Council > In an impeccably hand written article published in Community Link, he wrote that the reason lay in ‘'the precarious life on small hill farms made for poets rather than painters with such of these latter being conditioned by the canons of aristocratic patronage, eighteenth century rationalism with its prescribed props such as follies, grottoes plus the Grand Tour and the honey coloured light of the Campagne!’'

^Arthur was intent on rectifying what he saw as a serious omission in the Welsh Art scene. Concerned by the absence of a native school of painters in Wales, ‘'it led to a meeting of painters of a calibre requisite to the founding of a National body of water colourists, whose members would be at least living or working in Wales as the main source that owed little or nothing to the stylist formulas and content that held sway throughout the twenties and thirties in Europe.’'' He became a founder member of the Watercolour Society of Wales Watercolour in 1959. The Royal Watercolour Society of Wales is an association of watercolour artists in Wales founded in 1959.

^Encouraged by the success of the Water Colour Society , he created a painters’ group in Gwaelod-y-Garth, his home village during his marriage to Valerie. Its members were, Vernon Hill, Ron Johnson, Glyn Bishop, Peter Morgan, Rose Francis and Steve Phillips. Of this group of painters, he said, ''the Garth was to them as Mont St Victoire was to Cezanne’'' adding ''We live in an anti-creative age of which the imposed end is not creativity, but compliance.'' <Community Link. Pentrych Community Council>. It was a step towards an answer to his question, ''Why is it that Wales has little or no history in the visual arts, no school of native painters?''


Arthur Miles was intensely political. A member of the Communist party, he saw the world as heading for nuclear destruction, feeling the growing interest in Art Societies to be a positive ‘'fight -back’' against ‘'a tide of dehumanisation'', and was ''to be welcomed’.

^Of the Welsh landscape, he wrote of the ‘'vaguries of its weather’' saying it was ‘'a Godsend to such as himself and fellow hopefuls seeking to capture on paper or canvas that magic of incipient change and lifting mist that no other can quite match’' <PCC article>. He quotes John Constable, saying, ‘'Such things made me an artist’'.

^Arthur felt that he lived in an anti-creative age in which the imposed end was not creativity but compliance. He felt that ‘'individual identities - the primary soil in which creativity can alone grow - were being ‘submerged in the sheer scale of production and for all their much vaunted difference, both West and East are floundering on this same rock'’. He thought anything affording scope for originality should be fostered in a ‘'fight back’ 'against the tide of dehumanisation.

^Arthur Miles clearly saw the way forward for humanity in art and creativity, against what he saw as a bleak and dangerous world. He welcomed the growing interest in art societies and things of the spirit, which he saw as a positive sign in ‘'these dangerous times’', concluding, ‘'Even if we do live in a rat race society, you do not have to be one of the rats’'.


Founder Member Watercolour Society of Wales

President Water Colour Society of Wales

South Wales Art Society (President)

Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour.

Welsh Group of National Union of Mineworkers 1949 -1972.

Active member of the communist party

National Union of Mineworkers.

Commissions and exhibitions

In the years from 1960-76, while Arthur Miles worked as a full time painter, he had many commissions and exhibitions, both locally, across Wales and in London. His work was featured in Arts Preview 1970, and in the 50th Anniversary booklet of the Watercolourists Society of Wales. ( Written by Secretary, David James) .

^Collections including including his work can be seen at the National Library of Wales and Aberystwyth, Newport Museum Art Gallery, and Rhondda Heritage Park. His work has been purchased by the Arts Council of Wales.

Amgueddfa Cymru, National Museum of Wales

Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon,

Llandaff Cathedral,

Willows High School, Cardiff,

Welsh Committee, the of Arts Council of Great Britain 1949. (group)

Royal National Eisteddfordd of Wales 1950, 1960, 1966, 1973

Exhibition of Contemporary Welsh Painting and Sculpture 1955

Wales through the Painter’s Eye, Howard Robert’s Gallery, Cardiff1957

Contemporary Arts Society of Wales 1958,1961, 1963

One person exhibition at Howard Robert’s Gallery, 1968

Recording Wales 2 Chapels. Welsh Arts Council 1969

Portraits of Welsh People 1973 (touring)

Oriel Plas Glyn y Weddw, Lanbediog 1975

Morgan Hall 1964

Two person exhibition with his son, John Miles, 1974

The Welsh Gallery , Abergavenny, (WGA) with Robert Lowe. 1975

Albany Gallery Cardiff, 1970

Clarges Gallery, London, 1970

Temple Gallery, Llandrindod Wells, 1971

WGA 1973

The, Tanyard Gallery, Tongwynlais 1989

View collections on line

Arthur Miles art is still highly sought. Examples can be seen in various [3][4]auction houses,


  1. Beer, Robert (6 June 2006). "The Visionary Art of John Miles".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. Beer, Robert (15 June 2006). "The Visionary Art of John Miles. The visionary paintings and journals of John F.B. Miles 1944-97". Robert Beer. {{cite web}}: |archive-date= requires |archive-url= (help)CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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