Chloe Dewe Mathews’ ‘Hasidic Holiday’ looks at British orthodox Jews who have been holidaying in the Welsh seaside resort of Aberystwyth for over 20 years. “Each family rents a small house in the empty student accomodation on the hill and a large yellow and white striped tent is erected on the campus as a temporary synagogue.”
Two boys look over Aberystwyth town from Constitutional Hill
“They arrive in large groups, followed by huge removal lorries, bringing all their possessions from home, including children’s bikes, cookers and fridges full of food. Around a thousand people make the trip each year and although the majority of families come from north London, there are many others from further afield.”
A Jewish man and his son watch a couple of locals go for an afternoon swim
A Hasidic family relax on North Beach as the clouds gather
“Despite the long-standing relationship with the town, there is little contact or exchange between the Jewish community and local people. On one occasion a visitor enquired at the tourist office, ‘Why are there so many people in Welsh national dress on the beach?’ Perhaps they get relatively less attention than they would elsewhere, as the town is so isolated, with a small influx of tourists each year. However, this summer was the first year that the Jewish community did not go to Aberystwyth for their holidays. The University expressed concern over the Friday night tradition of lighting of candles, that did not concur with their ‘heath and safety’ regulations. As they were unable to resolve the issue, the Jewish community had to go elsewhere for their holiday.”
Orthodox Jewish families stay at the University accomodation at Pentre Jane Morgan. Every other day bread, milk and other supplies are brought from Kosher shops in London and resold from one of the rented houses on the campus
The Englander family, ready for dinner on Shabbat eve
“I think of landscape as being like a book, it has language, it can be read, it is meaningful and expressive. It projects the layers of history that are found there.”
Dinorwig Slate Quarry (disused), Gwynedd
It has long been a source of fascination to me the inexorable connection human beings have with the landscapes of their motherland and this connection is keenly felt in James Morris’ work “A Landscape of Wales” which explores the contrasting realities of the contemporary Welsh Landscape. For me, the images are majestic and proud even in their presentation of the back streets, “in turning violently to face things exactly as they are.”
James says of his work, “Wales could be seen as England’s first and last colony, and the complexity of the relationship with its wealthy and powerful neighbour to some extent define it as a country. This history can be seen again and again in the landscape – the castles, forestry, bilingual signs, military ranges, the coalmines closed by a democratically elected London based government that had no Welsh representation.”
Llandudno Pier, Gwynedd
It is a land of beauty and of hardship where – in this post-industrial, post-rural economy – Tesco and tourism are now the major employers.
James says, “I have a great love for the landscape, but it can also be deeply melancholic. You can sense, as RS Thomas put it, the ‘trouble far down…’ So I am from this place but when I returned to Wales I did not know that much about it. I have travelled and photographed all over the world but always as a visitor. In this work I wanted to look at this place that my people are from, this place that held a semi romanticised, semi mythological place in my imagination. There were names my father talks about; Port Talbot, Baglan Bay, Britain Ferry, Jersey Marine, Swansea, the Heads of the Valley. Not pretty places, but places that have both a personal and a wider history. Or places from family holidays a long time ago, Caernafon, Conway, Llandudno, the Gower. Or places that are known across the world – The Rhondda, Ffestiniog, Snowdon, Barry Island.”
Barmouth Beach, Gwynedd
“The pictures are personal reflections, there is no specific message, they are open to individual interpretation – however there are various themes that repeated themselves in my mind and informed my choice of where I went and what I photographed. I was exploring Wales’s history, and its present, and my relationship with it. There was a lot going on in both my head and my heart at the time.”
‘A Landscape of Wales’ will be showing at the Kuntsbezirk Galerie in Stuttgart as part of ‘I See Europe!’
What is lamping? Lorna Evans went lamping with men from her hometown of Blaenavon. Lamping involves going out late at night with dogs and high powered lamps in search of rabbits. When a rabbit is found, they shine a light on it, the dog sees it and chases it. If caught, the rabbit is returned to the dog owner and its neck is broken.
‘However, this sport didn’t hold my interest photographically. I became much more interested in how the darkness transformed the landscape around me into something alien. A sinister scene filled with strange creatures looking on. The natural world is no longer a place that we are familiar with’.
To most people the natural world is somewhat of an anomaly, only encountering natural wildlife fleetingly and sometimes without even being conscious of it. This world becomes even more bewildering when night descends and the whole terrain appears to transform.
Through these images, we cross the threshold into an unfamiliar realm, guided by dogs into a tense and mysterious world.
We stumble across animals that we know, yet have become alien to us. These photographs are intended to show our turbulent relationship with animals and highlight how estranged from the natural world we have become.