To Build a Home

Amanda Jackson

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.

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Coed Y Tylluan

‘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.’

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The Lake

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Field 3

‘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.’

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Field 2

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Tyddyn Hedd 2

‘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.’

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Cân Yr Adar

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Plas Helyg 2

‘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.’

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Berllan Dawel (You Tube Friday)

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.

amandajaxn.co.uk
@AmandaJxn19

James O Jenkins

Caldey

Francesca Jones

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.’

Sea mist on Caldey's north shore, here the cliffs are 200ft.
Sea mist on Caldey’s north shore.

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Father Gildas is responsible for the laundry and is also the cook. He first came to Caldey in 1983.

‘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.’

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Bethan, who was once a resident and pupil at the closed school house, works in the cafe. She lives on the mainland but travels to work by boat each day during the summer.

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Dining Hall of the monastery.

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Father Jan from Holland trained as a calligrapher and stone carver which he still practices in the Abbey workshop.

‘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.’

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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.

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Brother Titus, who is the guest master, holds discussions with his guests in the monastic library.

Brother Luca is the accountant and gardener.
Brother Luca is the accountant and gardener.

‘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.’

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Father Daniel is the Abbot and the baker. Shortbread from the Abbey is sold in the shop.

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Untitled

Rita is also the organist.
Rita is a resident of Caldey for over 35 years and lives alone in a bungalow just outside the village. Although long retired she still oversees the management of the water supply and is the organist.

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Access to ‘Sandtop’ was severely limited due to the storms in 2014 and is now accessible by rope.

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. 

francesca-jones.co.uk
@FrancescaLJones

James O Jenkins

Degrees of Separation

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.’

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‘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.’

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‘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.’

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‘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.’

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‘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.’

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‘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.’

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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.

johnpaulevans.co.uk

Lens Culture profile

James O Jenkins

Philip Jones Griffiths

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.

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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

Splott

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.

Splo' 002

Splott 001

‘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.’

Splott 003 

Splott 003

‘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.’

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“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.

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Splott 005

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.

You can see more of Daragh’s work at cargocollective.com/daraghsoden
@DaraghSoden

James O Jenkins

Photographs of Cardiff 1969-1972

Pete Davis

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.

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‘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’.’

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‘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.’

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‘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.’

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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.

pete-davis-photography.com

James O Jenkins

Mametz Wood

Rob Hudson

In this blog post photographer Rob Hudson explains his ongoing landscape series ‘Mametz Wood’. ‘The ideas behind Mametz Wood started with an image, as they so often do when we have to navigate the boundaries between the verbal and the visual, between how we think and how we see. It was an image that reminded me of my previous work, some years earlier, illustrating another poem called Mametz Wood by another poet, Owen Sheers. In that poem he tells of the modern day discovery the bones of long dead soldiers in northern France.

“As if the notes they had sung
have only now, with this unearthing,
slipped from their absent tongues.”

It was the year before the centenary of the start of World War One and my mind began to turn over. At first those thoughts were very vague and fluid, it took a great deal of research, reading, contemplation and image making before they began to become more concrete and more complex. I had also discovered a remarkable wood; of ancient sessile oak with stumps and limbs twisted and turned like the imaginings of a fevered mind. The wood wasn’t Mametz Wood, it was a small wood near Bridgend, yet importantly for me, in Wales.’

But sweet sister death
But Sweet Sister Death

As to this hour
And So To This Hour

‘Photography often clings ferociously to a validation through subject, which is linked to the direct physical relationship between what is photographed and what is in front of the lens. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not how I work, there are better photographers than I pursuing that path. I wanted to follow another route, something more personal to me. For me photography – and visual art in general – can also work through a process of analogy or, at times, metaphor. I prefer to think of my images as a work of fiction, the story is with us from day one, from the small child to the grown adult. It’s easy to grasp while the document is somewhat of a sideways leap in perception, whilst I do allow that it has an undeniable power in its direct relationship to subject. Mametz Wood is simply a work of fiction, a work of the imagination.’

You can't see anything
You Can’t See Anything

In the regions of air
In The Regions Of Air

‘It could have been made anywhere. What matters to me isn’t the physicality of place; it is how we perceive and experience a place and what it means to us. It is the human experience not the trees, rocks and grass. This isn’t Mametz Wood any more than it is July 1916, except in my, and hopefully your imaginations. The validation I do find necessary is in having a story with a basis in reality. It still needed the grounding of real events behind it even though it may work as a piece of magic realism. The big leap in development came from David Jones’ ’In Parenthesis’. In his long, modernist poem he tells of his experience of WW1 in the Royal Welch [sic] Fusiliers that culminated in the battle of Mametz Wood.’

And so to midnight
And So To Midnight

Fear will so condition you
Fear Will So Condition You

‘The first images I made were dark, fierce pieces, angry at the terrible waste of human life over a trivial one-mile square wood in northern France. But Jones’ poetry allowed me to develop the theme from such a one-note response. My thoughts began to accrete, building slowly into something that, whilst still recognising that anger and despair, carried a more complex and subtle message. Complexity, like ambiguity, is something to be valued in visual art. So long as we aren’t so ambiguous as to render our work meaningless or so complex as to render it impenetrable. Striking that balance is, for me, one of the most important parts of what I do, or at least attempting to, because I recognise it’s not always easy or even always successful. When it is successful it’s how we communicate with our viewers most profoundly. I am constantly juggling between accessibility and over simplification and depth and unintelligibly. It is, after all, just a picture, so how else do we add value?’

The sky flickered
The Sky Flickered

When the quiet came
When The Quiet Came

‘Jones’ poetry embraced both the dull, regimented existence of the soldier as well as the tragic battles, but he told the story through the ’lens’ of myth and legend. It’s not a heroic work, as might be imagined, but the heroism of past stories acts as a counterpoint to the grim reality of modern warfare. It also lends a surreal grandeur to the wood, to the place where so many of the fallen men sacrificed their lives. The wood becomes a kind of tribute, a monument to those that died, suffered or lost friends and family. There’s a certain ’madness’ in that mix of myth, legend and actual historical battle, as there is madness in any war. And war often results in ’madness’, in the damaged minds of those involved. It was this that inspired me to use the images to explore the effects of war on the mind. Using double exposures to both disturb reality and create a strange, surreal landscape that explores the experience of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or what was then known as shell shock). We can’t be sure what is real and what is imagined, just as the victims of PTSD cannot help vividly recalling the terrible memories of what they experienced.’

And in the core and navel of the wood
And In The Core And Navel Of The Wood

His lamps hang in this black cold
His Lamps Hang In This Black Cold

Over a period of 18 months those initial ideas about the First World War had accreted and coalesced, becoming something new, something far beyond those hazy initial thoughts. I need that time for my work to develop, because at the end of the day the story will out when it becomes concrete and real to ourselves.

So welcome to Mametz Wood…

“And so to midnight and into the ebb-time when the spirit slips lightly from sick men and when it’s like no-mans-land between yesterday and tomorrow and material things are loosely integrated and barely tacked together.”

So many without memento
So Many Without Memento

Rob Hudson is a photographer living and working in Wales.

mametzwood.org
@RobHudsonPhoto

Gawain Barnard

Landscapes

Jooney Woodward

We got to know Jooney Woodward via her portrait ‘Harriet and Gentleman Jack’ (below) which won First Prize in the 2011 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The portrait was taken at the 2010 Royal Welsh Agricultural Show in Builth Wells and features 13-year old steward Harriet Power holding her guinea pig ‘Gentleman Jack’ (apparently named after the Jack Daniel’s whiskey box in which he was given to her). The portrait was part of a wider body of work about agricultural shows entitled ‘Best in Show’ and Jooney has also spent time photographing the world of equestrianism with ‘The Riders’.

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Jooney Woodward has also been photographing the landscapes of Wales, ‘over the last 12 years I have travelled extensively around Wales documenting the people and landscapes I have viewed en route. Having grown up in the countryside, I am often drawn to documenting the familiar heritage and traditions of rural life. I love escaping the chaotic pace of London, to return to an environment where time and space seem less restricted.’

Rhoose Point. Vale of Glamorgan.
Rhoose Point, Vale of Glamorgan.

Nos 4-5. Ynyslas, Ceredigion.
Nos 4-5, Ynslas, Ceredigion.

‘For me the countryside feels nostalgic, comforting and inspiring in contrast to urban life. My subject matter is inspired by road trips and exploring. I find Wales perfect for this, especially with its diverse landscape. There’s always something going on from one village to the next. I like discovering these places and documenting them and the friendly communities within them.’

Borth.Ceredigion.
Borth, Ceredigion

Dot's Diner. Cemmaes Road, Powys.
Dot’s Diner, Cemmaes Road, Powys.

‘The aim of my landscape series was to explore society’s impact on the landscape of Wales and to document the changing shape of the country. I wanted to explore juxtapositions of the past and present, looking at how a new landscape is emerging from its history. I wanted to challenge the strong populist vision of Wales and present an alternative but empathic account of the country, one that avoids sentimentality and seeks to explore the nuances of local Welsh culture, attitudes and lifestyles.’ 

Viewpoint 3. Borth, Ceredigion. Viewpoint 3, Borth, Ceredigion.

The Victory Hall and Cinema 1953. Llanybydder, Dyfed.
The Victory Hall and Cinema 1953, Llanybydder, Dyfed.

Jooney Woodward is a British photographer who lives and works in London. Born in 1979, she studied at Camberwell College of Arts. Her photography often documents the British at leisure and seeks to explore the relationship between lifestyle and identity. She has exhibited widely, including a solo show at MOMA Wales and has twice been highly commended in The Observer Hodge Photographic Award.

jooneywoodward.co.uk

James O Jenkins

Tumble

Huw Davies

Tumble is Huw Davies’ ongoing documentation of his home town Tumble in Carmarthenshire, West Wales. Tumble is an ex-mining community in the heart of the Gwendraeth Valley and this work is Huw Davies’ personal and aesthetic interpretation of contemporary Welsh culture and it’s sense of place.

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‘Tumble has become the focus of most my projects in recent years, and is likely to be for many years to come, I am mesmerised by it. This is the place that I grew up in. It is a place that holds my memories and experience, and it is a constant reminder of who I am. Not only has it watched me grow, I too, now watch as the social and psychological structure of my home village changes and moves towards a greater anonymity.’

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‘In recent years, many rural communities have seen significant change with great effect, inspiring Davies’ decision to photograph the village in what he refers to as its transitional state.’

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‘Having been raised in this close-knit community, Davies recognises that the village he calls home is changing rapidly. The traditional ways of rural society are being challenged by a modern homogeneous culture. He accepts that change is inevitable, even though, whilst he was growing up, the village seemed to be a permanent entity. Houses and buildings that had once been fundamental to community life were now being revealed as transient and only of a particular time – they were being replaced by those of a different time. Businesses were closing down or moving out, some of which had been a source of work in the community for over fifty years.’

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‘Change has implications, both positive and negative. The death of the original economy, based on mining, undeniably brought great hardship, but also forged further resilience of the community. However, during the latest recession this has been challenged yet again.’

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Born in West Wales, photographer Huw Alden Davies received a BA First Honours Degree in Photography at the West Wales School of Arts, and studied his Masters Degree in Documentary photography at Newport University of Wales. His work has been printed in a number of publications including Portfolio, Blown, The British Journal of Photography and CCQ, and has been exhibited in a range of exhibitions around the UK and Europe. His work from the Tumble series was recently included as part of the ‘Valleys Re: Presented, in the Diffusion Festival’ (Cardiff), and he was also included in the archives of both the National Museum of Wales, and The National Portrait Gallery, London. He currently works as a Documentary photographer, and exhibiting artist, while continuing to document his home village Tumble.

huwdaviesphotography.com

James O Jenkins

Môr Plastig

Mike Perry

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.’

Pebble Plastiglomerate, 2015
Pebble Plastiglomerate, Newgale, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2015.

‘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.’

Purple Furry Fragment Master
Pink Crate Fragment, Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2015.

‘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.’

Keep Box, Pembrokeshire 2015
Keep Box Fragment, Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2015.

‘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
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.’

Orange Fibreglass Square Print
Orange Rectangular Fragment, Cwm Gwyllog, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2012.

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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.’

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Glove 2 Front, Cwm Gwyllog, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2012.

‘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.’

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Flowerpot, Newport Estuary, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2015.

In May 2015 a selection of work from Môr Plastig is showing at the 56th Venice Biennale.

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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.

m-perry.com

James O Jenkins