And death shall have no dominion

Hannah Saunders

When I first moved to Wales just over a year ago I became better acquainted with the work of Dylan Thomas, poems like ‘And death shall have dominion’, ‘Do not go gentle into that dark night’ and ‘Foster the light’ seemed to resonate within me.  My grandmothers side of the family are Welsh and trips from England would always be an exciting occasion for my brother and I. The bright lights of the Port Talbot steel works would fill me with anticipation, I was soon to arrive at my Grandmothers house and be reunited with family I rarely saw in England. We would visit Swansea sometimes and reading Thomas’s words brought back memories of Wales, my childhood and the sea. 

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‘And death shall have no dominion’s’ bold denial of deaths triumph over the human spirit made me want to find a way to explore the poem through photographs. These photographs are a celebration of human spirit and the ‘ugly lovely town’ that Thomas so loved to hate. I’m interested in the exploration of place and finding a way to translate elements of history into photographs that also speak about the current social and physical landscape of the location.
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I met Kyle (above) down Wind street by Salubrious passage, where Dylan Thomas and his friends would heat pennies on the fire and throw them out the window above, playing cruel pranks on those who walked through the passage below. 

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I’d started the project with the intention of focusing solely on the city of Swansea but as I started to venture out around the Gower Peninsula it felt as if the sea needed to be a reoccurring theme in this work just as it was in the work of Thomas. He was supposedly given the name Dylan by his father because it meant ‘son of the sea’ and the more I read the poem and walked around the Gower the more I felt I needed to include the landscape and the sea that inspired some of his most famous works. 

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As I started to work my way around the Gower, photographs like the one above of the statue commemorating the death of lifeboatmen drowned at sea seemed to relate to the idea of memorial. Lines from the poem such as ‘Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again’, started to form a connection with the photographs I was taking.

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At the beginning of the project I had not intended on making direct references to Thomas himself but as the project started to draw to and end I visited Laugharne, the town where he and his family lived before leaving for America. I photographed his former home, writing shed and the grave of him and his wife Caitlin Thomas. These photographs in turn also related back to the themes of the poem and I felt as though I had now finished my exploration of the poem through my photographs.

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I’m currently in my second year studying Documentary Photography at Newport. Work from ‘And death shall have no dominion’ has been exhibited at Newport University alongside the work of my peers.


James O Jenkins

The Submerged

Michelle Sank

Michelle Sank’s work reflects her interest in the human condition, encompassing issues around social and cultural diversity. The Submerged is about the people and places in mid wales; a portrait of the coastal and hilly areas of Aberystwyth, which came about “through an intense exploration of Aberystwyth and it’s surrounds” says Sank.


“The Submerged is named after an ancient forest that appears at low tide on the beach in Borth, and it became a metaphor for those moments that I captured that felt as if they were popping up out of the environment and society.” The interplay of portrait and background creates a sociological landscape: “symbolic for me in relation to the wonderment of the diversity and a sense of the exotic that appeared against the grittiness of the landscape. I was really drawn to the sense of space, the geology, the skies and light and sometimes a sense of isolation that existed in the areas I explored.”

The work was completed during a residency at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and published in book form by Schilt.  In the accompanying essay “Potent Portraits” Liz Wells describes her work as “Ordinary yet compulsive”.  It is this combination that drew me to Sank’s work and I was intrigued as to how she achieves a sense of dignity and intimacy within a fleeting and isolated moment.

“All the subjects photographed in this work were met on the street. I have a genuine excitement when I see something special in that person, at a particular time, in a particular space with the right combination for me of light and colour. I feel that this is conveyed to the person in that moment – hence the sense of intimacy. Sometimes it is a fleeting connection, other occasions I will spend time speaking to them. The best moments always for me are those where amazing things come to one out of the ordinary that have a particular significance for me. I do undertake research before I start a project of this kind but through persistent hunting I find the places, people, events etc that are of interest to me and indicative of the place”
Sank has just completed a 6 month residency in Jersey, Channel Islands where she made a document of contemporary island society that will form part of the photographic archive at the Societe Jersiase. A book of this work “Insula” is due to be published in 2014.”
You can see more of Sank’s work here:

Abbie Trayler-Smith