Village and Memorial Halls

Pete Davis

We’ve been pleased to feature and exhibit Pete Davis’ work in the past, showing his ‘Photographs of Cardiff 1969-1977’ at our ‘Made in Wales’ touring group shows. This blog post presents some of Pete’s ongoing work examining the village and memorial halls that can be found across Wales. ‘Built for a variety of reasons at significant times in the history of a particular village, these structures are icons of the cultural life and architectural styles of the time. Most were built as a form of memorial, whether for the fallen of world wars or another national event considered to be significant by the community. Many were paid for by public subscription and used local labour to construct them. At a time when there may have been more of a community spirit and little in the way of home entertainment and communication, they were an important focus for village life’.

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‘Over the years, many fell into states of disrepair and use as changes in society and the demographic of the village altered the perceived needs and aspirations of the community. The villages have also to a large extent altered visually. Modern homes and gardens have changed the appearance of these communities in addition to all the alterations in many other items considered necessary for modern day living’.

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‘Road layouts, car parking, contemporary tastes in homes, gardens and décor, are all clues to how society has altered since the time the halls were constructed. In recent years there appears to have been a resurgence of interest and use of these halls by the villagers. Many have been recently refurbished and used again for any number of activities that brings the community together’.

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‘In photographing these structures using the strategy of a triptych, I have attempted to indicate both the original style, in relative isolation, of the hall as built, and how, to either side of the building, the immediate environment and community might have developed since. Some have altered much more than others, which itself is an indication of the differences in the various locations and how they have developed, or not, over the years’.

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Pete Davis has work being exhibited in a number of upcoming exhibitions:

In Snowdonia at Storiel Bangor (November 19th to January 28th).
Impressions of Wales at Oriel Mon (opening on January 14th 2017).
Self / Hunan at Oriel Henry Thomas (February 7th to March 15th 2017).
Penrallt Gallery in Machynlleth (opening on February 18th 2017).
 
‘Pete Davis Observations – Collections – Recollections – A Lifetime in Photography’, a retrospective exhibition will open at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth on March 4th 2017 with an accompanying lecture on March 15th. 

The large format photography of Welsh photographer Dr Pete Davis can be seen in national and international art collections. These include The Arts Council of Wales, Museo Genna Maria and the Victoria and Albert Museum. For eighteen years Pete was senior lecturer in documentary photography at the University of Wales, Newport and for nine of those years the course leader. Pete is currently a visiting lecturer at a number of universities and also engaged with his photography projects and research collaborations.

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pete-davis-photography.com

Mynydd Troed

Muriel Gallan

Our family farm lay in the shadow of Mynydd Troed (‘Foot Mountain’ in English) and its distinctive shape was carved out in the last Ice Age, as was the lake in the valley below. The area, a popular tourist destination, is nestled in the midst of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The experience of eking out a living in this striking but demanding landscape is what shaped our lives. Despite this, these pictures do not aim to create a predictable, imagined geography. The images are not the stereotypical faces of weather worn farmers, but an intimate portrait of people and places that are familiar to me.

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It is this intimacy that provides my sense of belonging to the local community. However, this is not an enclosed community, with a fixed identity. To ally locality with community can be misleading, as there is never just one community with a single sense of identity.

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These farmers have many different social connections, both local, national and international. This place, like any other, is as multifaceted as its people, a place of complex networks of social relations. These images are an articulation of those relations, a dialogue between photographer and subject and as such an exploration of self.

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An important part of the work focuses on children and young people. This is not merely a nostalgic trip into childhood experience, but rather an interest in the next generation, and how well equipped they are to face the challenges of farming in the 21st century.

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Born in Brecon Muriel Gallan completed a BA in Photojournalism at Swansea Metropolitan University in 2013 and an MA in Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales, Newport in 2015. A farmer’s daughter, who has previously trained as a counsellor and worked with people in a variety of challenging arenas, her photographic work and studies focus predominately on her love of people and their connection to the land. Muriel’s work has been exhibited nationally in a number of group shows.

murielgallan.co.uk
Instagram: muriel.gallan