A CARDIGAN artist is to exhibit his work in the town depicting a series of portraits of the people of Welsh descent in Patagonia.

Towards the end of 2015, artist Meirion Jones was invited to Patagonia by the ambassador of Trevelin, Cardigan's twin town in the Andes. The people he painted were children and grandchildren of the subjects that Kyffin Williams painted during his visit in 1968.

After 18-month’s work, the exhibition opens to the public at Oriel Awen Teifi Gallery in Cardigan High Street on Saturday, July 15. Trevelin's ambassador, Isaias Grandis, will open it formally at a private viewing the night before.

It will also coincide with The Festival of the Landing, celebrating the Welsh landing in 1865.

The exhibition will run for a month before travelling to galleries in Cardiff, Llandeilo, Aberystwyth and North Wales.

The mid-19th century was a particularly oppressive time in Wales, socially, culturally and economically. As a result, Michael D. Jones, a nonconformist minister from Bala in North Wales, had a vision of establishing a Welsh settlement in one of the most isolated parts of the world, Patagonia.

On the July 28, 1865, 153 Welsh settlers landed in Porth Madryn on the Atlantic coast of Argentina on a converted tea-clipper called “Mimosa.”

They had been told that Patagonia was green and rich like lowland Wales, whereas in reality it was semi-desert with hardly any drinking water. Had it not been for the native Tehuelche Indians, the Welsh would probably have perished.

These were testing times but by the sweat of their brows the Welsh built irrigation canals and made the Chubut Valley the most fertile in Argentina. In 1886 they built a railway to export their agricultural produce.

This was an egalitarian and forward-looking society where women had the vote at 18, long before that happened here.

Mr Jones said: “Visiting Patagonia today is an eye-opening experience. There is a genuine enthusiasm to preserve and to nurture elements of Welsh life like the ‘eisteddfodau’, the musical and bardic traditions, and an insatiable appetite to learn and promote the language.

“Hearing Welsh, and seeing Welsh place names and Welsh chapels on the southern tip of South America is quite surreal.

“I had been out in Patagonia about 10 years previously, and had kept in contact with the people I had met then, so that this time those people could take me to see the eccentric characters who live in remote places – people who spoke Welsh fluently, but many of whom had never been to Wales - as well as some of the more recognisable people of Patagonia.”