A Welsh Meditation / Zed Nelson

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Zed’s images of North Wales are those of an outsider.

He doesn’t claim to ‘capture’ the place, or even describe it. Instead they may be seen as small poems, aiming to capture a mood or an atmosphere. North Wales is a strange and beautiful land, but today it confounds attempts at an off-the-cuff description. It seems like it once had a strong identity – but that has now diminished along with the slate and farming industries.

It appears to be in transition, but to where? One foot is firmly in the past, while the other foot hovers in mid-air, unsure where to land.

There are conundrums and juxtapositions everywhere. Nowhere is this more apparent that in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Here the slate mine is open for business. But instead of producing slate, it offers tourists the ‘experience’ of slate mining, by riding a tiny train that clatters through the dank and claustrophobic tunnels, once used by working men, many of whom died of silicosis.

Sons of miners work here now as guides, dressed in vintage bowler hats and overalls, while overhead zip-wires hum as shrieking visitors fly overhead, having paid £50 for the thrill of flying between discarded slate mountains.

The town post office and bakery look unchanged, like fading snapshots from the 1950’s. But down the road an internet café offers cappuccino’s and free wi-fi.

There is a newly paved square with an old iron locomotive engine, salvaged and now brightly repainted like a child’s toy. A former miner sits on a bench in the autumn sunshine. He seems lost in thought, but perhaps he’s just thinking about where to have lunch… the bakery or the wi-fi café? The past or the future. Neither feels quite right… neither feels like the present.


About Zed

“The visual ‘language’ of my images is about integrity and connection with the subject. The images should feel ‘true’...real...genuine… Working with a good Art Director is a huge plus, paving the way for a creative and structured collaboration in the image-making process.”

Zed’s work is known and recognised around the world. Coming to prominence with the seminal ‘Gun Nation’, which won five major international photography prizes, he has consistently produced work that makes us reflect and wonder.

(To read more about Zed Nelson, see Who we are)