Art: Freedom as Duty

A lecture by Raymond Williams

We are delighted to publish this recording of an extraordinary lecture by our former Patron Raymond Williams in celebration of his centenary. The lecture was organised by the Extra-Mural Department at UCW Aberystwyth in collaboration with the Welsh Arts Council, and was held in 1978 at Gregynog Hall.

Williams re-delivered this lecture by memory (without notes) at home, which is what is recorded here.

This recording was sourced and digitised by Adrian Leibowitz, and published with permission.

The text of the lecture was published in Planet issue 68 (1988), with an introduction by Ned Thomas, and in Planet 180 (2007) with an introduction by Walford Davies. Copies of these issues can be purchased here:

Responses to the lecture

“He rejects idealist and individualist mystiques, preferring to see art as a form of cultural production in society, yet within this framework he makes a space for the creative endeavour of the individual – and more than that, of all individuals. It is this last-mentioned emphasis that makes his thought truly and profoundly democratic, pushing beyond the degraded and manipulated institutional senses of the word.” Ned Thomas

“The sheer accessible clarity and humanity of its wording – as of the man himself – stands stressing. … Raymond stood out against the furthest, fashionable reaches of Theory. He could have easily have played (even in demolishing) that game. But instead of fingering, he put his finger on it: ‘I can feel the bracing cold of their inherent distances and impersonalities and yet have to go on saying that they are indeed ice-cold.’” Walford Davies