Some of my pictures are currently showing at the Local Exposure show over at the Workers Gallery in Ynyshir. It’s an exciting exhibition showcasing works demonstrating a connection to the South Wales Valleys, inspired by local community, local history, the streetscapes, or landscapes.
The question for me is “What is local?” If local is a geographical thing then at what point of measurement do places cease to become local? I’ve asked friends in the US what they consider to be local and they’ve told me that local is within a 5hr car journey. For us in the southwest of the UK this means local could be as far as the fringes of Scotland.
To me, local is a view of the South Wales valleys, mountains, and beaches from the hill near my home here in the city. Local is also the whole of South Wales though since I have friends and connections in various towns, cities, and villages all across South Wales. I’m forever travelling between valleys or scooting up and down the M4 motorway. Local isn’t just the Rhondda Valleys (where the Workers Gallery is located), it’s the friendships I currently have across various places and the memories I have of these spaces. Local is about familiar places and deep-rooted connections. Local can be what you make it, but you have to make it yours first.
This piece Playing in the Sunflower Fields of Dyfatty is currently showing as part of Local Exposure. It’s several layers of hand cut photograph assembled and held with paper fasteners. Dyfatty is very local to me. It isn’t in a valley. It has no hills. It has tower blocks and traffic. It’s about as urban as you can get*. The sunflower fields of Dyfatty appear annually along with several wildflower fields nearby. I’ve noticed various town councils plant these small fields on traffic islands and next to roads to help local wildlife as well as bring a slice of sanity to those of us ever shifting between our local spaces. Wales is lovely and unspoiled in so many ways so when we have felt the need to plant urban structures there’s also an instinctive drive to counter this and return to nature somehow From junkies to judges, school children to sisters of mercy, virtually everyone I’ve met in South Wales feels a deep connection the natural landscape here in Wales. It’s a heritage we’re proud to preserve.
When I took the original sunflowers photograph I was surrounded by thousands of bees, and hundreds of passing cars, and yet I was also at peace and quite alone. This small sanctuary on a triangle of land near one of the busiest traffic junctions in town was my playground and my paradise. This is my local.
Local Exposure runs 10am-5pm Thur-Sat until 4th November (or by appointment). Workers Gallery is also celebrating its 3rd birthday soon. To recognise this they are holding a special birthday bash on Sunday 29th October 3-6pm. As part of promotional activity they will be offering 10% discount for Workers Mates on a whole heap of things. Contact them directly to find out more. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: Workers Gallery 99 Ynyshir Road, Ynyshir, Porth, CF39 0EN
*I showed a photo of Dyfatty’s architecture once to someone unfamiliar with the area and they thought I was in Berlin. That’s how urban this place is.