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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Jon Windsor: The Geological, Economic and Personal Mapping of a Valley

Jon Windsor is next on the blog with a personal take on the Ebbw Valley of South Wales, and the way that geological, industrial and personal history are woven into the fabric of an area that has been devestated on environmental, community and economic levels over the years. It's a touching story where this devastation is marked onto the skin of the valley, and is remembered with a mix of nostalgia, anger and despair, but with a little bit of contemporary joyfulness thrown into the mix. I love the fact that the places where the contour lines get close, there are perpendicular lines made by walkers, bmx-ers and bikers, a different kind of mapping. 

Below is what Jon has to say about the project.

I was born in Risca at the bottom of the Ebbw Valley. It’s an area of former industry, an area that my family worked in during the glories of the mining era. My father worked in the Celynen South Mine until Margaret Thatcher took away his job following the miner’s strike in 1985.

After that he worked in construction, he drove a taxi, and now he works in retail. In a way, his life mirrors the changes that have happened in the valley. From being a site associated with coal and industry, it is now a site associated with deprivation, EU-funded infrastructure projects, and the zero hours economy.

Although my family is steeped in the history of the Valleys, I didn’t know much about it. My life was based more in Risca, Newport and Cardiff. This project is my attempt to reconnect with the nostalgia and longing for the past, as expressed by my family history, and the way the area has become a reflection of the new valleys; a shadow economy that is a mix of new industries, commuter housing and economic initiatives that never quite happened.

For this project, I followed the the old Ebbw Valley Railway line from its start in Ebbw vale to its end in Newport docks. The line was at one point used to carry freight from Ebbw Vale steelworks to Newport docks between 1962 and 2002, stopping at each town throughout the valley along the way. Using this track as a guide, EBBW uses present day photographs from each of these towns, coupled with Ordinance Survey maps from the time such industries were operating as a means of examining in detail how the landscape has changed over the last 50 years.

Follow Documentary Photography's 3rd Years at Two Eyes Serve a Movement on Instagram here

You can see this and other documentary work in London opening 16th June at Seen Fifteen Gallery, Peckham. We'd love to see you there so come and say hello!

And if you do have any spare cash and want to be a patron of some truly great photographers, go to the Kickstarter Page here. We need a little money!

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