Notes from a Funeral Farewell

From Planet 219

Mererid Hopwood remembers the artist, writer and activist Osi Rhys Osmond.

Spring 2015 seemed to insist on bringing to Wales more of a sense of an end than a beginning. We suffered more than our fair share of losses. Merêd, Bwlch Llan, John Rowlands to name but three, and then Osi. All of them giants in the field called culture, where identity grows.

In the months that have followed, if our family table has felt empty, we can be sure that the angels are having a feast. The conversation is oscillating between the convivial and controversial. Animated always. Osi is there in their midst listening, sketching each guest in turn, stopping to butt in, to hold forth, and to tell it as it is and as it should be.

Because that’s how he was.

On Wednesday, 4 March, with a little more than two days’ breath to spare, he took it upon himself to explain exactly what was supposed to be said in Moriah when the time came. The body was no doubt weak – but the mind? The spirit? With burning eyes he said: ‘You must tell them about my beliefs, about the principles’.

And egwyddorion and argyhoeddiadau are difficult words to pronounce even in the best of health.

It was good to know what needed to be done. Finding the strength to do it was a different matter.

In the event, Osi supplied the source of that strength too. For as we were gathered in our dark dillad parch in the chapel on Llansteffan hill, the deep blue and purple flowers in the set fawr seemed determined to remind us that a few miles away, in King Street Gallery, Carmarthen, the world was vibrant with Osi’s colours. Indeed, their determined petals told us that wherever his paintings are, Osi is, and always will be, alive, reaching out from the four corners of every canvas to the four corners of the world, inspiring us, touching us.

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