Through the peripatetic nature of his fathers job in the international oil industry and the eventual break up of his parents marriage Brys spent a considerable amount of time with his grandmother and great aunt in his formative years. They exposed Brys to many of the major European artists of the 20th century from an early age through their patronage of and friendship of those artists. Following his parents divorce, his mothers relocation to America and his fathers subsequent death in the oilfields of the Middle East Brys increasingly grew to consider France his real home. His grandmother’s gift of a studio near the Place des Vosges on his eighteenth birthday certainly influenced his decision to attend the Beaux Arts in Paris at a time of student unrest in 1968. It was at this time Brys met fellow Welshman Huw Llywelyn Davies now more commonly known by the name conferred on him by the tabloid press at the time – Huw Chi Minh. They had a number of things in common being scions of wealthy Welsh families with an interest in cultural matters.
As Brys has remained in France and considers Paris his home this initial background information on his upbringing and the influence of his grandmother and great aunt is vital to his relevance as a ‘Welsh’ artist. Were he better known outside the small circle of cognoscenti there that issue may have been more widely debated. Although Welsh by birth Brys has spent most of his life away from Wales and has never actively sought recognition as a ‘Welsh Artist’. His recent artistic connections with Wales – discussed on other pages- are largely coincidental and confined to its metropolitan elite.

Huw Brys was born in 1948 in Swansea, in the then county of Glamorgan, Wales. His father was an engineer involved in the oil industry and was at that time working at the nearby oil refinery at Llandarcy. Both of Brys’ parents were Welsh as were both of his grandfathers who were colliery owners. However perhaps the single biggest family influence on Brys was his maternal grandmother and great aunt who were French. The Bouvier sisters were the daughters of a mine owner in the Pas de Calais but in lived in Paris and the South of France.