We’re pleased to share the invite for this year’s Made in Wales exhibitions at Cardiff MADE, Carousel London and Oriel Colwyn. The exhibitions will include new work from members of the collective plus 27 photographers who’ve featured on our blog. Feel free to share this and we hope you will join us at one of the openings. Our invitation is available to download here.
We saw Tony Othen’s photographs of Cardiff on the Instagram feed for The Photographers Gallery as part of the promotion for their current exhibition Women, Children and Loitering Men by Shirley Baker. Tony’s photographs of Cardiff are currently on show in Stuttgart as part of A Tale of Two Cities which is a joint exhibition of Fotosummer Stuttgart and Ffotogallery Cardiff. The exhibition is at Kunstbezirk Galerie im Gustav-Siegle-Haus until September 5th and features 23 photographers focusing on Cardiff and Stuttgart over the last sixty years.
‘These photographs were taken in Cardiff – the city in which I grew up. I lived there from 1953-1970. I studied Photography at the London College of Printing and, amongst some commissions that I undertook, one was for an organisation called Task Force that sought to encourage young people to volunteer to help in their community. My brief was to photograph in various parts of the UK and to show community life.’
‘I was happy to be able to photograph in my home town, and I tried to capture images that showed details of the day to day life in various parts of Cardiff. Most of the images on show were taken in the late 60s and record elements of a life style some 50 years ago.’
‘Described by some as Social Action Photography, my images served a purpose for those that commissioned the work – mainly charities and educational bodies. Currently, they can be seen as having captured rather quaint and even iconic moments in time and those that have seen them exhibited in Britain and in Europe have enjoyed the reminiscences that they trigger as well as the exploration of times past.’
‘Discovering my negatives, stored away so long ago, I have begun the process of cataloguing and sorting tens of thousands of images in the hope that, as communities, we can base some of our future decisions on our past experiences.’
James O Jenkins
Photographer Mark Griffiths tells about his work ‘The Healing Land’ where 8 children from Chernobyl visited Wales on a four week holiday to improve their immune system by spending a prolonged period in a clean environment.
‘The Chernobyl meltdown was the biggest nuclear catastrophe in world history. Ninety nine percent of the Belarusian land has been contaminated to varying degrees above internationally accepted levels as a direct result of the disaster. The villages and towns that are in close proximity to the epicentre of the reactor have been eerily abandoned and remain desolate. The people of Belarus are very self sufficient, they grow their own crops and vegetables, farm livestock and source water from nearby lakes and reservoirs. With 70% of contamination coming from food and water however, the poisoned earth continues to infect those that depend on it.’
‘An astonishing 85% of Belarusian children are deemed to be Chernobyl victims: they carry “genetic markers” that could affect their health at any time and can be passed on to the next generation. A vicious cycle that unfortunately could continue for hundreds if not thousands of years. The government of Belarus and the Ukraine established that all affected children should leave the contaminated regions for at least one month abroad every year. They believed the fresh air and uncontaminated food would give the children a vital boost to their immune system.’
‘The Chernobyl’s Children’s Lifeline was founded to help affected children receive the recuperation they so vitally needed. The charity carried out scientific research to determine whether a clean environment would benefit those affected. From 4000 children that were examined the results determined that the radioactive elements in a child before and after a four week visit to the UK dropped by an average of sixty eight percent. The immune system of a Chernobyl child needs a kickstart to help fight potential illness and disease.’
‘This year eight children were brought to the pristine county of Pembrokeshire in West Wales. The region is considered an area of outstanding natural beauty. The environment boasts clean air quality, blue flag beaches and spectacularly dense woodland and breathtaking countryside views.’
‘The children participate in a number of recreational and educational activities and outings during their stay, from long sunny days at the beach to go karting. They also receive free medical check ups including eye tests and dental appointments to ensure a clean bill of health. The aim of the charity is to make the experience as enjoyable as possible, while clean air and unpolluted land takes its natural course of healing the wounds.’
Mark Griffiths is a photographer based in South Wales available for editorial and commercial assignments and commissions.
James O Jenkins
Last November we were pleased to speak at the ‘Lens 2014: Festival of Welsh Documentary Photography’ where another of the speakers was photographer Amanda Jackson. On Friday 25th July Amanda’s work ‘To Build a Home’ opened at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. The series is a study of the people of Lammas Tir Y Gafel Eco Village and the surrounding community, focusing on the North Pembrokeshire settlement near Glandwr.
‘Amanda’s approach to photography is to get to know her subjects well, allowing her to create intimate portraits of the people within their surroundings. With previous series’ including The British Eccentrics and Alternative Living, she has always been interested in people living on the edges of mainstream society. During her first photography shoot with Lammas in 2009, Amanda fell in love with the area, the people and the way of life. So much so that in early 2010, she relocated to land beside the village, and now has her own land nearby. She was delighted to receive a grant in 2013 from The Arts Council of Wales to produce the series shown here. All the photographs are shot on medium format colour film, a process Amanda favours over digital. At a time when people are so bombarded by digital technology and images, she feels that film photography still has an artistic edge and forces a more considered approach to creating a body of work.’
‘As well as capturing the day to day activities, Amanda aims to show a mix of community life through the people that live there. Some of the photographers will not only meet expectations of what living in an Eco Village would be like, but feel familiar; others will surprise. In photographs such as “YouTube Friday” we see how the people are embracing modern day technology but in a sustainable way, using hydroelectricity.’
‘In a society that increasingly shelters children from harm, perhaps at the expense of freedom, the photographs of the children of the village may invoke anything from wistfulness to fear in the viewers. These children are free to roam away from busy main roads, but also live and play in an ongoing construction site. We also see adults, including parents, working their plots or enjoying some down time.’
‘Through these photos, the photographer shows the viewer a glimpse of the lives of these people living a way of life that used to be ordinary but now must be chosen. Sometimes contradictory, often humorous, these photographs evoke a timelessness while capturing a growing modern movement.’
Amanda Jackson is a Midlands and Pembrokeshire based photographer, specializing in portraiture and interiors. Early on in her career she realised her passion lay with photographing people and places on the edges of mainstream society. After completing an HND in photography in 2003, Amanda spent 4 years in London working as a freelance photographer’s assistant. She returned to Hereford and completed a photography degree in 2008, gaining a First Class hons. Amanda’s work has been exhibited at The Empire Gallery in London where she won the portraiture category of the 2008 DegreeArt Signature Photography Awards.
Other exhibitions include The Hereford Photo Festival, Rhubarb Rhubarb (Birmingham), D&AD (London), The New Designers exhibition (Islington Business Centre) and DKNY in Bond Street’s New Designer’s Showcase. Amanda is represented by Young Photographers United (YPU) and DegreeArt.
In 2013 Amanda was awarded a grant from The Arts Council of Wales for a photographic project based on the Lammas Eco Village and the surrounding community which forms the series “To Build A Home” which is on show at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre until September 19th 2015.
James O Jenkins
Caldey is a small island located south of Tenby in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. Photographer Francesca Jones spent two years arranging her permission to stay on the island and was allowed to spend two weeks there working as a volunteer and photographing its inhabitants in 2015.
‘Home to roughly 25-30 permanent residents and a monastic order of 10 Cistercian monks, Caldey is classed as one of the Holy Islands of Britain and has a history spanning 1500 years. Lying 3 miles off the coast of Pembrokeshire, Caldey is reachable by a 25 min boat trip. Home to diverse wildlife, rare fauna and rich in architectural history, the unique atmosphere and enchantment of the Island is almost tangible.’
‘Having first visited as a child, I felt compelled to return driven by a long held fascination about the people who choose Caldey as a home and the intricacies of life there. I spent 2 weeks, working as a volunteer in the garden or helping with housekeeping in my spare time. Alongside this I was able to connect with and document some of the residents and monks, whilst having the time and space to discover the beauty and fragility of the island for myself.’
‘To be a resident on the island means to have a role; aiding the monastery to continue in it’s existence as well as supporting one another as a community. A practical disposition is a prerequisite as well as a resilient nature. The residents who stay the longest are the ones who are in possession of an ability to adapt to and embrace the unpredictable nature of the environment. Winters can be harsh and prolonged. In 2014, the cargo boats were unable to sail for 7 weeks leaving the residents cut off from the mainland and destructive storms caused massive coastal damage and severe flooding.’
John has lived on the island with his wife Veronica for 40 years and is the commerce manager. He is also the point of contact for Trinity House regarding the island lighthouse which was build in 1829 and was powered by gas until 1997.
‘I endeavoured to learn about the human experience of living on Caldey; the frameworks to which daily lives adhere to, interactions with one another and how the population inhabit their environment. Although, to the outside world, it can appear an isolated place, many people I encountered expressed an overriding sense of freedom. I learned that the population are linked by a common desire; one of a simpler and more spiritual existence.’
Father Daniel is the Abbot and the baker. Shortbread from the Abbey is sold in the shop.
Francesca Jones lives in Cardiff and works throughout the UK. She began working as a photographer’s assistant three years ago whilst working on her own projects and portfolio.
Her work has been exhibited nationally as part of Portrait Salon 2014 as well as part of a group show at The Abacus in Cardiff. She was also a finalist in the 2013 Association of Photographers Awards and in January 2015 was selected to attend the Magnum Professional Practice in London.
James O Jenkins
John Paul Evans
‘In his memoirs, Stephen Fry remarked on an encounter he had with Alastair Cooke. After shaking hands, the writer and broadcaster synonymous with Letter from America, informed Fry that he was shaking the hand of someone who had shook the hand of Bertrand Russell. When Fry displayed amazement, the man of letters added that it didn’t stop there, and that Bertrand Russell knew Robert Browning and Bertrand Russell’s aunt had danced with Napoleon.’
‘This example of ‘degrees of separation’, a concept which influenced the early thought on social networks, reminded me of a curious connection between my homeland of south Wales, the promised land of America, the notion of home and the politics of otherness. The sentimental ballad “home sweet home”, written by John Howard Payne in 1822, and adopted after his death as a unifying propaganda during the American Civil War, offered solace in a time where a nation was divided or split geographically.’
‘The song became synonymous with the opera singer Adelina Patti who was described by Giuseppe Verdi in 1877 as being perhaps the finest singer who had ever lived. Abraham Lincoln famously implored the singer to console him with the ballad after the loss of his son Willie to typhoid. The talisman of home offering comfort and protection in a time of mourning.’
‘Oscar Wilde, a man famous, and sometimes infamous, for his use of words referenced Patti in his fiction. On his tour of America the aesthete attended a performance by the singer as a closing entertainment of the Cincinnatti Opera Festival. Wilde was taken backstage to meet Adelina and the experience was to have a profound effect on the writer. He included references to Patti in his only novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, a strange kismet that seemed to foretell his impending destiny. After Wilde’s disgrace and downfall the country to offer Wilde refuge and ‘home’ was France, the nation that offered Liberty in symbolic form to America. Paris would become his home and his final resting place. In the nineteenth century, Britain was not a place to offer ‘home sweet home’ to the homosexual.’
‘In the latter part of her life, Patti resided in the Swansea valley in her retirement home at Craig y Nos, where she built her own theatre. She died in the Welsh castle, but her final resting place would be alongside her beloved Rossini in Père Lachaise, a Parisian locale she would share with Wilde after death.’
‘These serendipitous events reflect the arbitrary possibilities of our social networks. The pervasive sentiment offered by this ballad has permeated generations and centuries and presents us with an idea that should make us reflect on how we connect with others, how we understand our place in the world, and how we generate discourse of belonging and otherness.’
John Paul Evans is a Welsh born photographic artist who now lives in Devon. As an academic, he has lectured in Photography and Art at University of Wales Trinity St David, Swansea and Cardiff School of Art. He has exhibited nationally and internationally and his work was screened as part of the Voies Off Festival in Arles 2014. Solo exhibitions include Bed Sheet Dreams 2005 ‘The Room Gallery’ London. A Different Point of View 1999, CBAT Cardiff & MAC Centre Birmingham, Dark Secrets…Mortal Thoughts 1997, a touring exhibition commissioned by Newport Museum & Art Gallery, and Hunks & Heroes 1996, Castlefield Gallery Manchester. Selected group shows include; Pride Photo Awards 2014 – Amsterdam, Uncertain States – Brighton Photo Biennial, From Common Differences-Diffusion International Festival of Photography 2013, Unreliable Truths- The Glynn Vivian Gallery 2008.
During October John Paul Evans’ work will be featured in ‘Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography‘ organised by Ffotogallery.
James O Jenkins
This Saturday 27th June is the opening of Philip Jones Griffiths: A Welsh Focus on War and Peace at The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. The exhibition will show images from the Magnum photographer’s work and personal archive material, looking at his early career in Britain as well as his extensive renowned documentation of wars and their effects.
The exhibition runs until December 12th 2015 and the curator William Troughton will give a gallery talk on October 14th. Later this year the Lens 2015 Festival will focus on Philip Jones Griffiths and his work.
You can see Philip Jones Griffith’s ‘Magnum Photos Photographer Portfolio’ here.
James O Jenkins
We received lots of positive feedback on social media from people who read our Pete Davis blog post about his ‘Photographs of Cardiff 1969-1972′ including BA Documentary Photography (University of South Wales, Newport) student Daragh Soden whose work about the south eastern area of Splott in Cardiff we are sharing here.
‘My work began by looking for visual hints of ‘aspiration’ in Splott after reading Owen Jones’ Chavs:The Demonization of The Working Class, in which Jones criticizes David Cameron’s view of an apparent lack of aspiration among the working class as part of the reason for the poor circumstances in which many working class families find themselves.’
‘In 1891 East Moors Steelworks was opened in Cardiff, Wales, a plant capable of manufacturing half a million tons of steel a year. To accommodate the workers of the steelworks, rows of terraced housing were built in estates nearby, forming the area of Cardiff known as Splott. In 1978, East Moors Steelworks ceased production.’
“Being born into a prosperous middle-class family typically endows you with a safety net for life. If you are not naturally bright, you are still likely to go far and, at the very least, will never experience poverty as an adult. A good education compounded by your parents’ ‘cultural capital’, financial support and networks will always see you through. If you are a bright child born into a working-class family, you do not have these things. The odds are that you will not be better off than your parents”, Owen Jones.
Daragh Soden (born in New York) is an Irish photographer working in the UK and Ireland. He is about to enter his third and final year studying Documentary Photography at The University of South Wales in Newport.
James O Jenkins
Splott (which takes it’s name from the Welsh word for allotment) is a south eastern district of Cardiff that was characterised by Victorian housing that existed for Cardiff’s industry workers. Pete Davis’ photographs of Splott show the area shortly after the beginning of the closure of the steelworks in the early 1970’s.
‘This was the area of Cardiff where I was brought up and went to school. These photographs were part of a series I made in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. The photographs of Splott were made at the time that the main employer in the area – the steelworks – was closing, and the area being pulled apart and ‘re-developed’.’
‘They were not poverty stricken families – it may look like that in the pictures. At the time I was taking some of those pictures the steelworks were being closed and the bottom end of Splott was in the process of being demolished piecemeal.’
‘Because of the passage of time the places have gone, the kids have obviously grown up and the area is completely different now. There’s an element of nostalgia I suppose as well as the real interest in my work from that time.’
Pete Davis has been taking photographs since the age of eleven. After ten years as an advertising and fashion photographer, Pete moved to rural West Wales from where he has embarked on field trips around the British Isles, Europe and the USA with his large format camera. For eighteen years Pete was senior lecturer in documentary photography at the University of Wales, Newport. He is currently a visiting lecturer at a number of universities and also engaged with his photography projects and research collaborations.
He has received numerous research grants and awards and was the winner of the 2002 Wakelin Purchase Prize for Welsh artists. Work from the ‘Wildwood’ series has been acquired by the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea and the National Library of Wales. Pete has been a visiting lecturer at the Karel De Grote-Hogeschool, Antwerp, Belgium, The North American Association for the Study of Welsh Culture and History in New York, The Royal Academy of Arts, The University of Toronto, and at FotoMuseum, Antwerp.
James O Jenkins