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The shadow of industry

personal work

My father comes from a South Wales mining family, in and around Ogmore Vale. As a child, we used to visit various aunts and uncles in their terraced houses embedded into steep hillsides, the slopes above black with coal dust. The mines at this point were still in full production; the landscapes were monochrome as a result.

A decade before, in the late 1960s, celebrated German photographers Berndt and Hilla Becher made two visits to capture in black and white the industrial structures and landscapes of South Wales. As well as their trademark elevational shots of winding wheels, their methodical process also included capturing the coal mines in wider context.

In 2012, I carried out my own extensive mapping and research project, to try and track down the locations and the exact spots where the Bechers took their photographs. The resulting series of landscapes are shadows of those taken by the Bechers, the blackened slopes replaced by pine forest, the coal mines largely erased and transformed into parks, wasteland or light industrial estates.