It’s a pleasure to announce that our group exhibition ‘Made in Wales’ will open at Oriel Colwyn on 5th September. The exhibition will be showing new work that we have featured on our blog since the inaugural ‘Made in Wales’ show at Arcade Cardiff in March.
Please spread the word and join us in North Wales in September.
Document Scotland kindly invited us to join them and contribute new work to an exhibition at Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow that will open on the evening of Thursday 28th August. We’ll be releasing further details of the exhibition soon, which is taking the notions of ‘home’ and ‘community’ as it’s motivation.
Document Scotland is made up of Colin McPherson, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Sophie Gerrard and Stephen McLaren – four Scots-born photographers, all exponents of documentary photography. We share a common vision with Document Scotland, which is to discover and showcase contemporary photography being made in Wales and Scotland respectively.
We’re going to be in Glasgow for the opening on 28th August and the following days will see a range of events including portfolio reviews, artist’s talks and the launch of Document Scotland’s new publication. More details of how to join us at these events will be released soon.
Last month we attended the ‘We Are This’ publication launch and ‘Reasons to be Cheerful‘ Miniclick talks in Hackney by the graduates of the Documentary Photography course from the University of South Wales, Newport. The publication (produced by Stanley James Press) is packed with good work and Sam Peat’s project ’Nothing Like It’ particularly caught our eye, especially in light of it being the NHS’s 66th birthday last weekend.
“Nothing Like It seeks to explore the problems facing the NHS as manifested in Accident and Emergency departments. The NHS is the only healthcare system of its type in the world, and is one of our most precious national assets.”
“The state of the NHS is something that affects us all; the likelihood is that we will all need its services at some point during our lives.”
“However in recent years the service has become subject to a number of spending cuts which effect services dramatically in some areas. We now have the longest waiting times as a nation that we have had for over a decade. Visiting nurses, community healthcare, local GP surgeries, and staff numbers have all been reduced. The knock-on effects of these services being reduced means that the patients who would otherwise be seen earlier, and pre treated, now end up in Accident and Emergency wards.”
“These pictures show the relentless pace of the department at the Royal Gwent Hospital in Newport. During the long twelve-hour shifts it is common to see 115 new patients with a varying severity of health problems.”
“The building blocks of our natural world, rocks and mountains sculpt the very land we live on. As communities grow and populations increase, people shape and form the landscape to suit their needs. For all that these landscapes may change however and be marked by man, it is important to remember that they are equally capable of leaving their marks on us. The depth of these marks are subjective, their impressions environmental and influenced by our own physical experience and personal engagement with the land.”
“In his body of work, In the Company of an Invisible Man, Harry Rose explores notions of loss, memory and human relationships within landscape photography. Specifically, his work focuses on a particular landscape that has influenced him personally as well as professionally. Having kept his distance from this place for some time, Rose has been drawn back to photograph this landscape, to reflect and find some inner peace. Retracing walks and journeys from countless miles travelled through his youth, Rose guides us through the landscape he photographs giving the audience access to treasures and memories collected along these routes. Through significant objects, rock minerals, childhood photographs, immersing himself back into the environment, Rose explores not individuality but an awareness of self and a search for identity in a key psychological landscape formed from his subjective experiences.”
The book In the Company of an Invisible Man is available to purchase here.
Harry graduated from the University of South Wales (Newport) in 2014 and works as editor for Darwin Magazine, a self published magazine which was founded by Harry and Ryan Grimley in 2012, providing a platform for both established and unestablished photographers and writers.
“I’ve been living in Flint, North Wales, since February 2012. The Dee Estuary basks nonchalantly alongside Flint in the popularity of residents; although it’s not respected by the younger generations that may happen to stumble across this space from time to time. You will hear ‘the locals’ talk of it’s litter problems – often beer bottles left discarded by the social gathering of teens – a particular unsavory parapet where sky meets sea. Despite this, I have adopted a deep interest in it’s solemn beauty and have subsequently been visiting regularly to try and document it’s condition over a period of time.
The estuary plays a part in present-day industries – providing the first stage of transport of the Airbus A380 wings on their way to Toulouse, via barge to Mostyn docks which are located along the estuary towards the Irish Sea. The estuary is an area teeming with wildlife and is one of the most important estuaries in Britain; amongst the most important in Europe for its populations of waders, wildfowl and heron.
It’s a site of special scientific interest and is a designated special marine area. The character of the place and what it represents within a moderately middle class town is what I wanted to document, not just the atheistic qualities of which it has so evidently in abundance.”
“I have always been inclined to try to capture the beauty in desolation, I grew up in an industrial northern town in the 1980’s, when the history and heritage of British working class communities was replaced by modern industrial estates, these places speak to me.”
“Documenting such places throughout North Wales and the North West has led me to see an ‘industrial fate’, offering little or low paid employment for communities, jobs that never came, and if they did they never stayed. Eventually time and nature reclaims.”
Losgann; Sensitivity, Medicine, Hidden Beauty and Power.
“Losgann unites the elements of water and earth, bringing joy, delight and healing in its singing and hopping, and leading you to a sacred spring from which you may be refreshed and renewed” *.
Losgann is a self-exploration of Benson Batty’s childhood, a combination of his Welsh upbringing and self sufficiency. Benson grew up in the small village of Saron, Camarthenshire. With the Fields as his playground and animals as his companions, there has always been an understanding between him and nature, utilizing it as a channel for life.
At an early age the introduction of growing fruit and vegetables as a marginal source of food supply for the house, learning that working and nurturing the land and receiving sustenance in return lies close to him as part of his identity. After 8 years in Saron, Benson and his family moved to the Philippines where he would learn basic carpentry skills and be exposed to the power of renewable energy sources through his father. This photography explores a lifestyle broken away from consumerist society, which has a regular sense of great self-fulfilment, where one’s hands will be the greatest tools one will ever use.
“Working with the land enables oneself to become intimate with nature and to also restore a human relationship with it, enabling the understanding of what is ‘our planet’. What we do with it could influence our survival or the existence of another life form around us.”
“Working no longer becomes a job, but becomes a satisfaction that brings out the instinctive human that we once were. This lifestyle offers a calm and equanimous life in the face of today’s busy and relentless society. A kind of healing is made not only to the land but also to ones self when one is taken away from a continuous connection to the digital world. Without this one is simply left with the people around you, physical interaction and at times complete solitude.”
“A time and opportunity where technology can no longer entertain your thoughts are all one has left. But before one can criticise, this time is perfect for reflection and planning. Becoming more productive and more appreciative of things and other peoples company.”
“Losgann makes one remember that despite the increasingly digital world which we inhabit, it is in fact the very earth that we stand on which we truly rely on most. Whilst the interconnectivity of the internet has its benefits, lest we forget as does solitude.”
David Donovan-Brown revisits his past while retracing his late father’s footsteps.
Donovan-Brown is a photographer based in Newport, South Wales. His on-going project “The Unattended Funeral” explores his relationship with his late father. They re-met when he was 21, 18 years after they last spoke, to find his father was now working in America. Due to the nature of his father’s work and the time spent before seeing each other, Donovan-Brown felt that there was a lack of closure following his father’s death 6 years afterwards. Using found objects and partaking on a personal pilgrimage that saw him revisit the route in which his father’s ashes had been taken to Davenport, USA.
Donovan-Brown portrays the frustration of lack of information in his photographs, piecing together snippets of life with archival images. ‘The Unattended Funeral’ is his attempt at consolidating all of these snippets into a poetic broken portrait of a father who he hardly new.
“Fragile Appearances is an invitation to a world hidden behind a layer of glitter and curtains of red velvet. Its participants are mere escapists from a reality that secludes them in the materialism of their daily life. A piano, a musical style dictated by old fashions together with overpriced amounts of alcohol are the companion for an evening of forgiveness in the heart of Cardiff Bay.”
Now you say you are lonely,
but your life is luxurious
and your taste is refined.
In a civilized existence,
Where you all live with style.
Is it dramatic? Is it glamorous?
I thought that was what you were looking for. Ostentation, vulgarity
At the end your gold is just plastic.
Sebastian Bardo was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2010 he has been based in Wales, where he studies Documentary Photography at The University of South Wales, Newport. His most recent work will be exhibited in the Pill Millennium Center, Newport on the 30th of May 2014.
To see more of Sebastian’s current project visit Made in Pill
Over the past two decades Cardiff Bay started a transition that would see it aspire to become a leisure and cultural centre for the capital city of Wales. This is the first of two blog posts looking at the work of Bandia Ribeira (Spain) and then Sebastian Bardo (Argentina) who photograph those who are a part of the transitional and aspirational change occurring in the Bay.
“The interesting part of a new town, the new builds and the new views are the old people that remain and habitat the same but changed ground. The overall sense I get from both projects are the people who look like they belong or at least belonged to a place that was there before the transition occurred. The pubs and clubs were ‘upgraded’, knocked down and replaced with new and shiny shit-holes. There’s nothing wrong with shit-holes as long as they’ve evolved into and become the shit-hole of that area, the local. A place that’s evolved and become part of the community, a place that has known christenings, engagements, weddings and funerals, first pints and last pints first fights and dead nights. To build a new shit-hole, that’s another thing.” Gawain Barnard.
Bandia Ribeira explains, “Bae Teigr means Tiger Bay in Welsh language. This is the name with which this part of Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, was known in the old times. The face of the city that looks at the sea, home of the old docks, which hosted the main exporting industry of coal in Britain at the beginning of twentieth century. Tiger Bay was the biggest multicultural community in Britain outside London, due to the settlement of sailormen, dockworkers and their families from different parts of the world, mainly from Horn of Africa’s countries.
With the process of decline of the industry which started after the Second World War, the place started to lose its industrial use and in 1987 a plan of regeneration was given shape under the so called Cardiff Bay Development Corporation, which aimed to attract private capital by spending public money. Following a tendency started in other British cities and towns, “a new unplanned landscape emerged symbolizing the New Labour’s attempt to transform the Welfare State into a giant business” * (1).
Nowadays, Cardiff Bay is the biggest seaside leisure area in Europe. The space is filled by restaurants, cafes, an auditorium and a variety of recreational facilities. There is nothing left from the industrial past and once you step on there, seems that it never existed, as if history had been removed in one night. The old local community has been kept apart from this process, and a lack of identification with this new real state artifact appears as a general feeling.
This is a work about the place through my own experience and the people that I came across. In Cardiff Bay I could not find a “close community” as I was told the place was like a hundred of years ago. Instead, a multiplicity of communities distanced from each other arises as a consequence of modernization and “urban regeneration”. Modernization understood as a process of “disembedding”, the “lifting out of social relations from local contexts and their recombination across infinite tracts of space and time. Many human beings physically absent from each other, not constrained by the mediation of place” *(2).
The production of this series of photographs is an attempt to speak about how people experience this artificial new spaces and their consequences on our behavior. The violence and uncertainty that it involves and its weight on individuals, which seem to be confronting themselves with a medium always untrustworthy. A community formed by many communities, separated from each other and a history whose weight has been weakened by the competition of market forces.”
Bandia Ribeira was born in A Coruña, Spain in 1979. She is studying Documentary Photography at University of South Wales and won the Scholarship of the Seminar of Photography and Journalism of Albarrracin in 2010 and the City of Barcelona Award 2011 for Educational projects for this work.
*1 – Owen Hatherley, “A guide to the new ruins of Great Britain”, Verso Books, London, 2010.
*2 – John Berger, “Ways of Remenbering”, “The CameraWork Essays: context and meaning in photography”, Rivers Oram
Press, London, 1997.