Capture

Images by Chris Jones

Text by Howard Shaw

 

From the early 90’s, I had been experimenting with documentary photography. I was very keen on using natural light (i.e. no flash) and to compensate for this I found that uprating my black and white films gave me more freedom in low light situations. This did create its own problems with a decrease in the quality of prints and graininess. I had also been experimenting with different old photographic processes for a few years and decided that the bromoil process may be a way of combatting this loss of quality, allowing me to regain the lost detail in the highlights and shadows and using the graininess as an asset, rather than a detractor.

 

I had always been fascinated with the link between Wolverhampton and its surrounding towns  and why North Wales was a popular tourist destination for them. I remember many holidays as a child in different parts of North Wales and I was now taking my own children there, partly because my in-laws owned a static caravan on Greenacres Campsite, near Porth Madoc. I’d even noticed a stand for Greenacres in The Mander Centre, Wolverhampton’s main shopping arcade. You could even buy Wolverhampton’s local newspaper in most newsagents in Porth Madoc.

 

All of this coincided with me meeting Howard Shaw, now sadly deceased, whilst we were both lecturing at Walsall College of Art. So, it was, that we decided upon the first visit to Criccieth from the 26th to 28th July, 1996. The original intention was to create a bookwork that Howard would introduce at the London Book Fair, later that year. The idea was that we would visit together but wander the streets separately, so as not to replicate our experiences.

 

We were both very pleased with our first adventure and were encouraged to apply for a bursary from West Midlands Arts to enlarge the work to 4 visits. The resulting work was exhibited at The Lighthouse Media Centre, in Wolverhampton, in July 2000 and at Rhyl Arts Centre , in November 2000.

 

Technical Info (for all works in Capture) :

Ilford HP5 film uprated to 1600ASA

Minolta 35mm camera with 35mm lens

Printed on Kentmere Document Art photographic paper

Part 1: Criccieth

Summer 1996

Criccieth Seafront
Boy
Caravan
Cafe
1/2

Criccieth

 

 

By the harbour, there is one of those old mines, painted

with a slot to put money in.

 

It was July. There was no one on the beach, and yet all of the hotels were full.

 

On one day, the flags on the castle were at half mast. I don’t why.

 

There is a very good deli, where you can buy Russian Caravan tea, so called because

it was transported from China on camels across the desert. I think that would be the

Gobi desert. That’s a long way from Wales.

 

Most people spoke Welsh. It’s a language which has no rules about plurals, has no

indefinite articles and no neuter. The names of trees are usually feminine.

 

The weather was hot.

 

I ate fish and chips on the beach, which was stoney.

 

The castle is important, as it is a genuine Welsh one.

 

The following people were Welsh: the African explorer, Stanley; the encyclopaedist,

Abraham Rees; the painter, Rex Whistler; the writer, Giraldus Cambrensis; the

wizard, Merlin.

 

The flag, the red dragon on a green and white field, may derive from the Roman custom.

The dragon was an emblem of a cohort.

 

On my drive into Wales, I saw an old AA box, black and yellow, beside a stream in a

small village.

 

I left the next day. It took three hours to drive home. All the time I wandered where I

had been. I think it’s still there. But I’m not sure.

Criccieth

 

 

By the harbour, there is one of those old mines, painted

with a slot to put money in.

 

It was July. There was no one on the beach, and yet all of the hotels were full.

 

On one day, the flags on the castle were at half mast. I don’t why.

 

There is a very good deli, where you can buy Russian Caravan tea, so called because

it was transported from China on camels across the desert. I think that would be the

Gobi desert. That’s a long way from Wales.

 

Most people spoke Welsh. It’s a language which has no rules about plurals, has no

indefinite articles and no neuter. The names of trees are usually feminine.

 

The weather was hot.

 

I ate fish and chips on the beach, which was stoney.

 

The castle is important, as it is a genuine Welsh one.

 

The following people were Welsh: the African explorer, Stanley; the encyclopaedist,

Abraham Rees; the painter, Rex Whistler; the writer, Giraldus Cambrensis; the

wizard, Merlin.

 

The flag, the red dragon on a green and white field, may derive from the Roman custom.

The dragon was an emblem of a cohort.

 

On my drive into Wales, I saw an old AA box, black and yellow, beside a stream in a

small village.

 

I left the next day. It took three hours to drive home. All the time I wandered where I

had been. I think it’s still there. But I’m not sure.

Part 2: Conwy

Winter 1997

House, Conwy
Conwy Harbour
Gate, Conwy
Men on Bridge, Conwy
1/2

Conwy

 

 

An arrival in mist after a long journey.

 

A proper castle. Try to find a loo. Fail.

 

Mist turns to heavy rain. Empty streets.

 

Torrents running down old stone steps. Much the same then, I suppose.

 

Buy a tweed cap. Getting old.

 

Back gardens from the wall, like on a train.

 

Wet families, frightened the children will slip. Climbing steps, I hold tight to the

handrail. I do not stay long at the top.

 

Still fishermen, loading mussels.

 

All built to keep out the Welsh. It worked.

 

Very wet now.

 

A hot bath. A cup of tea. Feel better. Definitely getting old.

 

The castle at night, lit up, seen through a wet window. Much better this way.

 

Why does the world always seem better after an English breakfast ?

 

Conwy in the rear view mirror. The high white towers against a bright blue sky.

The sun on the water. Little boats in the harbour, bobbing on the tide. A flag flying.

Must visit it one day.

Part 3: Greenacres

Spring 1998

Greenacres Campsite
Caravan Roof
Caravan Interior
Splashzone
1/2

Greenacres

 

 

They say no clock strikes for the happy one.

 

The importance of time lies in relation to our desires rather than in relation to truth.

 

Time is what keeps the light from reaching us.

 

To be conscious is not to be in time.

 

Time is a concept by which we measure our pain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All awareness is an awareness of time.

Part 4: Rhyl

Welsh Dragon
Chip Shop
Lido
Barber’s Shop
1/2

Autumn 1999

Rhyl

 

 

Good morning people,

shopping early.

I bide my time.

 

Empty arcade.

The smell of old beer.

Lights flicker, alone.

 

Old cinema,

snapping canvas.

Selling time.

 

White steam on red plastic.

Hungry for chips,

I drink strong tea.

 

By the breakwater,

a silver crunch of old shells.

A dog barks.

 

Old stones

henged in a stonelit circle

by the prom, prom, prom.

 

Walking back again,

I wait for my friend.

He will come.

 

Smelling sea,

not onions, sweat or sugar.

Ah !

 

Autumn sunshine.

A bench by the water.

I float away.