Craig Bernard’s project Standard Survival Technique began from a visit to the Forest of Dean. ‘The pictures were made in 2009 and 2010 and I wanted to create a feeling rather than a narrative so the lighting is important. I took a few pictures on a day trip to the Forest and the whole project stemmed from those first pictures.’
‘Because of the open ended feel to the story I wanted to just hint at things. The pictures are about me just as much as they are about the children in them. I tried to create this foreboding place that three brothers travel through with each other, so a sense of togetherness or dealing with a situation comes across in the pictures, I think when children share a history good or bad they find a way of talking or coping with that history collectively or individually.’
The songwriter Colm Hall wrote a story to accompany the work, some of which is included with the photographs below.
For there are those other memories too. The ones we hid, and bade ourselves keep. The ones that Shaun could not laugh off; that Darren could not fight. Memories of hiding out here past dusk, refusing to go home; of the things we could not do then, of the things we did not understand.
Feeling afraid. And over time, that fear became anger, and I could not put it out. We locked them up in the dark, and made them dull; those memories. We left them in our wake, so that they might fade. And the details slip away towards obscurity, but never fully get there.
The colors dampen in the mind. Who wore what when? Who did what to whom? And in what order? These things go. Dialogue is erased, the faces are drawn blank; the light drained. I look at the land about me, the woods, the sheer brightness of the day, the colors so vibrant in the daylight, and it hardly seems like this could have been the place.
Our memories are elusive. They paint their own past. Or cover it over. We are left with a negative; a small dark clip of the truth, and that is all that we are able or prepared to see. We are afraid to blow it up, afraid of the bigger picture. These things we have seen; they have shaped us. They direct us still. And we will keep them with us always, whether we mean to or not. So, no, we have not forgotten; but then again, nor do we remember.
Craig Bernard is a Cardiff born photographer living in London. His pictures are ongoing project based stories, some made over years to just days. Craig previously worked as a manager and curator at Third Floor Gallery curating monthly exhibitions of new and established documentary photographers.
South of the Landsker is work by photographer Mark Griffiths exploring ‘The Landsker Line’ – a language boundary between the Welsh speaking and English speaking areas of South West Wales.
‘The Landsker Line is an invisible but definite line that has been present for nearly a thousand years and divides the south west corner of Wales from the rest of the country. South of this line the people are of very mixed origins: Scandinavians, Normans, Anglo Saxons and Flemings as opposed to the Anglo/Celtic native heritage from the regions north of the line.’
‘The people within this region are an eclectic mix of characters with a diverse range of cultural and historical backgrounds. The region has been described as “Little England Beyond Wales” due to the sheer number of emigrants to the area and the abundance of the Welsh language spoken.’
‘The Landsker has changed position many times, first moving north into the foothills of the Preseli Mountains during the military campaigns of the Early Middle Ages, and then moving southwards again in more peaceful times, as the English colonists found that farming and feudalism were difficult to maintain on cold acid soils and exposed hillsides.’
‘This body of work is the outcome of a loosely based exploration of the land and the people encountered. A vast majority of this landscape remains untouched and its historic roots and identity are still prominent in the ancient woodland, mountains and lakes that encapsulates the county.’
Mark Griffiths graduated with a degree in photojournalism from the University of Wales/Trinity St David in 2013. He is based in South and West Wales and works as a freelance photographer.
South of the Landsker will be exhibited at the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven from the 4th to 30th May.
Lua lives next to the river. It partly explains her reasoning when asked to photograph the River Usk in 2014 why her gaze turned from the water to those beside it. The life that the river brings seems to excite her, not the river itself. She explained that the water seemed “cold and disconnected” from the people that surround it and that she wanted to “look at the river and its relationship with the people surrounding it and how it affects their daily live instead of focusing on the physical form of the river”.
‘Discovering that there was a deep detachment between the population and their ‘natural’ environment became the inspiration behind the work. This is where the study of the city comes in, the postnaturalism that surrounds the natural, city dwellers and city life creating an evolving form of realism that makes sense then and there, crafting a life and moving through it, the river of life sitting right beside the real thing.’
‘Villages were built beside rivers for the simple reason that they provide water and energy. During the industrial revolution the river’s role changed and became a tool for transporting coal and other materials. However, nowadays, with the further proliferation of capitalism, the use of the river is now little more than a nostalgic view. A fenced off postcard.’
‘By exploring this disconnection, I also observed how the river could be perceived as a threat. The separation with the nature and its rhythm is now part of how we interact and exist within the land. Cautionary barriers alerting us to the dangerous deep zones in the riverbanks, make impossible to discover and interact with the river. One of the consequences of this situation is the idealization of the nature and its naive misconception. But I like to think that we are more primitive than we think. The turbulent nature maintains engrained above the modern conventions. Undetectable rituals in the everyday life manifest in the form of plastic trees, exotic pets and yearning songs. Mysterious symbols of human expression proof that the strength of the river still lives inside of us.’
Lua’s work explores identity, representation, and otherness reaching the documentary photography boundaries. Her work focuses on the banal moments and subjects from daily life in western modern civilization. She uses photography to consider social issues while commenting on this tradition and challenging its limits.