Môr Plastig (Welsh for ‘Plastic Sea’), is a photographic study of plastic objects washed up along the Welsh coastline. The work ‘is a formal ‘forensic’ study of plastic detritus washed up off the west coast of Wales, and more recently further afield. With this project, Perry’s photography is not concerned with the campaigning rhetoric of straight environmental documentary. Rather it poetically alludes to changes taking place and what we might be leaving for future generations. His approach remains resolutely open and ambiguous.’
‘At a glance, the shape and size could be familiar, the texture and colour offer a displaced sense of beauty. There is a personal, environmental and aesthetic quality to these objects, which raises more questions than answers. The human stories and the impending environmental impacts soon become more prominent in our thoughts.’
‘On closer inspection, there appears to be something else to absorb, in these highly detailed and forensically photographed objects. The degrading effect of the sea has created extraordinary forms and surfaces. Are we allowed to enjoy nature’s continuous eroding process and the painterly effects caused by the interaction of sun, sea and sand? The repetitive presentation also provides a rhythm of colour and form and allows relationships to develop between the individual specimens.’
‘To achieve these images Perry has used a very high-resolution digital camera. He shoots in neutral daylight avoiding strong shadows and dramatic lighting. His intention is to show the objects as they are, thus achieving an objectivity to the process, allowing the viewer to bring their own interpretations and thoughts to the viewing experience. This is clearly very different to much environmental photography, which uses strong emotionally charged images to document the effects of climate degradation. Clearly, this approach leads to a paradox in that the shoes have become both aesthetically appealing objects and yet dangerous pollutants at the same time.’
Shoe 2, Cwm Gwyllog, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2013.
‘Whilst the sheer number of shoes is a reminder of the ubiquity of plastic on our beaches, it is also a barometer of the infinite choice now offered by our global consumerist world. Sandals come in every size, shape and colour. No two shoes are the same and they now frequent every beach on the planet from West Wales to Eastern China. These products don’t need global logistic companies to transport them from market to market, the worlds ocean currents do it for them. Perry has found Russian sandals on his Pembrokeshire beach and British Flip Flops on the beaches of East Africa.’
Grey Cylinder, Traeth Llyfn Beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2015.
‘For as long as we can remember, artists have been interested in collecting and sifting through the trash society leaves behind. Perry is motivated by giving these remains a status and attention they wouldn’t normally assume. He wants people to share ‘a strange knowledge’ and spend a little time looking at things that they would normally walk past and ignore as rubbish.’
‘This collection of extruded polymers offers something more than an array of colour, form and extraordinary surface details or a worrying warning of looming environmental disaster. It is perhaps, most of all, a powerful reminder of the power of nature. Not as a creator of sublime epic landscapes or breathtaking natural disasters, but as a moulder and sculptor of all things, however large or small, living or synthetic. Looking at this body of work one must surely conclude that nature is the ultimate designer.’
In May 2015 a selection of work from Môr Plastig is showing at the 56th Venice Biennale.
After a post graduate degree in economics and 13 years in industry, Perry left the world of commerce to focus on his art and environmental projects. He now lives between London and West Wales where he is converting a coastal sheep farm into a site for sustainable architecture and art. His work is increasingly influenced by the surrounding landscape and environmental concerns. Perry’s early large scale highly detailed colour photographs, often taken whilst driving around Britain’s marginal coastal and upland regions, combine powerful painterly aesthetics with seemingly mundane locations or areas of environmental degradation.
Mike’s first public show Beach was at The Photographers’ Gallery in 2004, and in 2007 he was a featured artist in BBC 4’s Arts Documentary, Britain in Pictures. In 2009 he won best picture at Christies of London’s 25th anniversary photographic competition, and in 2012 Mike was part of the group show ‘New Ground: Landscape Art In Wales since 1970’, curated by The National Museum of Wales, including Richard Long, David Nash and Keith Arnatt. In 2013 Mike’s collection of plastic shoes was on show at the Institute for Contemporary and Interdisciplinary Arts (ICIA) and selected for The National Eisteddfod of Wales 2013. In July 2014 Perry’s Môr Plastig was included in Cornelia Parker’s ‘Black and White Room’ at The Royal Academy of Arts.
A short film about Mike’s work as Artist in Residence at Oriel y Parc can be seen here. Mike’s work is also represented by The Photographers Gallery.
Text used is from an essay by Lindsay Hughes (ICIA Exhibition Catalogue, 2013). Lindsay Hughes is Creative Producer (Visual Arts) at The Institute of Contemporary Interdisciplinary Arts (ICIA), University of Bath.
The Reclusive Relationship is an exploration of Nathan Klein’s upbringing, documenting notions of memory and belonging. This is a series of photographs showing the existence of Klein’s grandparents relationship that has ostensibly become reclusive, resulting in them living separate lives.
‘Nature versus Nurture; both come together to create the people we are today. Wrexham was my home; not a rich place, but happiness could be found. My grandparents raised me as my mother was in an abusive relationship; this is their story. My grandparents have been married for over fifty years, which sounds wonderful, yet are they happy? They respect the vows they made to each other and yet their daily lives show little communication nor contact. They believe in marriage, yet have created their own definition of what this means. It seems to work for them, or at least it is tolerable.’
‘Throughout their relationship they have slowly moved into their own separate existences, living in different parts of the house, sleeping in different rooms, and spending their day-to-day life alone. They spend very little time, if any, together. They communicate in a way that is similar to animals in the jungle – they shout. And as I became part of that jungle pack, I believed this to be the norm of home life for a long time. My granddad has little patience and suffers with arthritis and other conditions. This has caused him to be a very moody elderly man. It has caused a division within the family, as no one feels comfortable around them causing further isolation.’
‘My grandparents were brought together through their love for travel and the daughter that quickly came along. A child forms the cement between a disparate couple as they combine their forces to do the best they can for that child; the love between them is partly transferred to the child as the focus and centre of attention as time demands. One’s own needs get pushed to the back. That child has gone, yet they stay together because at their age, they see little option. It is not unpleasant, yet not joyous, and maybe not even adequate. The idea of being alone scares them.’
‘I confronted my grandmother with the question of why are they still together? She responded…”well, there’s nothing else in life to do than stay together…well whatever…you watch after each other…I said I believe in the vows of marriage…we watch after each other…not like youngsters who marry for no reason…we didn’t do that”.’
‘Both my Nan and Grandad live a very lonely and isolated life and yet they are together. Family gatherings play a part in bringing them together, but like two opposing pole of a magnet, they quickly separate and slip back into what has become the norm for them.They took me on in difficult and trying circumstances when I was 11, this was emotional for all of us. And yet, my presence gave them a mission; a new and unexpected child to care for and nurture. A new life and raison d’être.’
‘And yet now, like my Mother, I am no longer with them. And now I have flown the nest as an independent mature young man looking to make my life a success, I worry about what I have left behind.’
Nathan Klein is currently in his final year of a BA(Hons) Photography degree at the University of Portsmouth. Nathan’s work concentrates on the exploration of notions of memory, escapism, and the repetition of everyday existence. Through exposing intimate moments in life, attempting to challenge the understanding of intimacy through questioning what is public and private in today’s age, with inhabiting images of what is deceived as private.
Last November we were pleased to be invited to speak at Lens 2014: Festival of Welsh Documentary Photography at The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. Another of the Festival’s speakers was Neil Turner who we are grateful to for sharing with us his photographs of Cwm Colliery, near Pontypridd, in the run up to the 1974 miners’ strike.
The strike was the result of the ‘three day week’, one of several measures introduced by the Conservative Government to conserve electricity. From 1st January until 7th March 1974 commercial users of electricity were restricted to three specified days consumption each week. At the end of January 1974, 81% of the National Union of Miners members voted to strike after rejecting the offer of a 16.5% pay rise. The Prime Minister Edward Heath then called a general election for February while the ‘three day week’ was still in force.
In 1974 I started work for the National Coal Board. As part of my training I was sent to work at Cwm Colliery, near Beddau, where I was assigned to the stores. 1974 was the year of the miner’s strike during the premiership of Ted Heath.
Many of the photographs are of the day to day comings and goings of the miners. The photographs were taken on my Nikkormat with my solitary lens of the time, the trusted 50mm F2. Film was processed by myself in my parents kitchen which doubled as a dark room for printing after everyone had gone to bed.
Some of the men in my photographs will have started work down the mines when they were 14 years of age, as did my father. The likes of such men will never be seen again.
I consider it a privilege to have spent a few months at Cwm Colliery and to have been in a position to document such times. I just wish I had known what I was doing at the time, and the significance.
The 16-week dispute, which saw coal production come to a complete standstill, ended 48 hours after Mr Heath’s Conservative party was voted out of power. The election produced a hung parliament with Harold Wilson becoming Prime Minister with a minority Labour Government.
On 6th March 1974 the miners called off a four-week strike following a 35% pay offer from the new Labour government. 260,000 miners accepted weekly pay rises ranging from £6.71 to £16.31. The offer was more than double the figure offered by Edward Heath’s government.