The Artist

Elin Siân Blake

A painter of Welsh art at heart, Elin Siân Blake is as well-known for her paintings of Welsh cob ponies, and circus performers, as she is for rugby art. Learn more about the artist below.

About the Artist

Elin Siân Blake grew up in the South Wales Valleys and had an active interest in art from a young age, selling her first commission at the age of 10. As a teenager she spent all her spare money on expensive art supplies.

Elin obtained a degree in graphic design and illustration, but quickly realised that she wanted to create conventional paintings rather than producing images on computers.

Elin Sian Blake standing next to easel holding paint brushes
Well known Welsh artist, Elin Siân Blake

Blake taught herself oil painting using library books, originally producing very detailed photo-realistic images. Her artistic style has developed considerably over the years, partly driven by her need to paint more quickly when her daughter was a baby, developing a more expressive and looser style.

Elin’s early work included painting Welsh Cob ponies and various countryside characters she had grown up with. She visited many Agricultural and Equestrian events where she noticed the similarity between painting horses and rugby. In her words, “crowds cheering, the energy, spirit, churning mud and gleaming muscles, it is easy to make the connection between both”.

The Greatest Try sketch
One of many sketches
The Greatest Try painting
The finished painting

A Growing Love of Rugby

Elin didn’t have the best early impression of rugby, in her own words “being dragged to Cardiff every weekend to watch my brother play sat in the car in the rain, certainly wasn’t the best introduction”.

Her interest was rekindled with the energy and passion around the Wales 2005 Grand Slam winning 6 nations campaign. Inspired, she painted a limited number of rugby images and the response was explosive.

Elin realised how emotive the subject of rugby is, with wide-ranging meaning to different people from all generations and walks of life. It’s a subject that unites us all.

In 2013, Elin was invited by a gallery to produce 20 rugby paintings for a solo exhibition. The exhibition sold out on the first night, attracting over 200 guests for the private viewing. Gerald Davies and Scott Quinell attended the event alongside Leigh Halfpenny and Alex Cuthbert, who even helped wash the wine glasses afterwards!

More recently, Elin has returned to her love of painting images from the Welsh countryside and industry. Elin has accepted, and continues to accept, a number of commissions, and has had artwork published in several books. She has exhibited paintings all over the UK and has had various collections held in Europe, the USA and Australia, with her artwork being described by one critic as “a social commentary”.

If you would like to contact Elin to ask a question about The Greatest Try painting or to discuss a special commission of your own, please contact her at

Gareth Edwards and Elin Sian Blake standing with The Greatest Try framed print on easel
Elin & Sir Gareth with a signed, framed print

Bringing One of Rugby’s Greatest Moments to Life

The process of painting The Greatest Try was no easy task. These days, dozens of cameras positioned at every angle would capture the dazzling build-up and the try itself. In 1973 however, only one camera caught the action from afar. With no photographer able to snap the winning picture either, no close-up view of the magic moment exists — except in the minds of the players themselves.

So, to truly capture the dramatic scene, Blake requested Gareth Edwards’ memory as a guide and inspiration.

Every detail, including things like how the grandstand would look from a particular angle were discussed and agreed. It was a long process to get the scene as accurate as it could be.

Sir Gareth Edwards CBERugby Legend

The finished painting is therefore more than an artist’s rendering — it is a previously unseen, first-hand view of sporting history.

I took a long time to give the painting a title but ultimately it was an easy decision to choose ‘The Greatest Try’. It is subjective, but in my opinion that is the only way to describe that special moment on that special day in Rugby history.

Elin Siân BlakeWelsh Fine Artist

Commissioned by two of Gareth’s friends, the painting took over a year to complete. From the initial conceptual sketches to the finished piece, Blake worked closely with Edwards at every stage.

He had very clear ideas of what he wanted from the image. At the time of the commission I was recovering from knee surgery and had been sleeping on a bed in the living room. Gareth was so enthusiastic when discussing the try at our initial meeting that to demonstrate his body position in that moment he threw himself across this bed to make his point. This was Sir Gareth Edwards, one of the best rugby players to have played the game, in my lounge, lying with his arms out in a try scoring position. I knew then that I was going to have to get this painting spot on.

Elin Siân BlakeWelsh Fine Artist

The artist’s attention to detail paid off, with the finished painting dazzling even those who had been involved in the process of creating it.

We, together with our sons Rhys and Owen had been heavily involved with the composition, but to see the finished product took our breath away. It brought all the memories of the day, and of that moment back to me in a flash, the noise of the crowd, the smell of liniment, a combination of grass and mud, not forgetting the sensation of my bursting lungs as I dived for the line.

Sir Gareth Edwards CBERugby Legend

Own a Signed, Limited Edition Print

You can now own a high-quality print of The Greatest Try, signed by both Gareth Edwards and Elin Siân Blake, the artist. A true celebration of rugby, the print is available in two sizes, both strictly limited edition.

Buy the print

Share Page
  • Facebook share icon
  • Twitter share icon
  • Email share icon