Nine and a half years later.

Back in 2011 I was exploring the country taking photographs for a book – Wales at Waters Edge – about the Welsh coastline. It wasn’t landscape, or wildlife, or documentary; rather a combination of all three. It took me a long while to realise it, but what I was doing was creating a natural and social history of the coast of Wales. On 2nd July I found myself in Tenby and discovered that there was a sandcastle-building contest on South Beach that afternoon. It sounded like a good photo opportunity.

So I duly turned up and took a series of photographs of the event. As it happened none of them was used in the book and most have long since been deleted. But a more interesting idea was forming in my imagination – to come back after the contest was over as the tide was rising. I thought a series of images of disintegrating sandcastles might illustrate sea-level rise and the consequences of global warming. So I returned to the beach about six in the evening – armed with my tripod – for some long exposures. It was deserted and the waves were beginning to lap around the first row of sandcastles. I quickly selected one, set up the tripod, and took a series of images as it collapsed. Focal length was set at 50 mm and exposures ranged between 1.6 and 4 seconds at about f11. I must have been using a neutral density filter as it was still broad daylight. I ended up with 35 images taken over a period of 11 minutes.

They then sat on my hard drive for nine and a half years! But in January I discovered that the Mid-Wales Art Gallery (near Caersws) was inviting entries for an open exhibition on the subject of global warming. I went back to my Tenby long exposures, selected ten of them with a view to making a sequence and began processing them. I made a whole series of minor changes to them all in an attempt to standardise the colour saturation, and cropped them all square. I sent a preliminary set to the gallery, who approved the idea, and suggested that I should have them printed on aluminium. Although this is an expensive medium to print on it avoids the need for framing.

I found a printing company online who do aluminium prints and provide layouts for dropping images into, including a 3 x 3 grid. Arguably a horizontal or vertical strip of single images might make the message clearer but the square format is much easier to deal with for both me and the gallery. I’ve just sent the work away for printing.

The exhibition will be at Mid Wales Arts, Caersws, Powys; provisionally from April 2nd > May 17th. Tel: 01686 688369

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A case of mistaken identity

The Upper Rheidol Valley, Ceredigion
The Upper Rheidol Valley, Ceredigion

On my way back from a trip to the Teifi Marshes, just in Pembrokeshire, at the weekend, I stopped off at a National Trust property near Aberaeron where I spent some time photographing wild daffodils and snowdrops on the river bank.

At lunch time I bought myself a sandwich at the riverside cafe . Two men sitting at a table caught my eye. I know you, one said, you’re Jeremy Moore, aren’t you? “Erm….yes…..but I’m sorry I don’t recognise you…..” Ah, we both know who you are but you don’t know either of us!” That’s right, I said, somewhat bemused. “It’s the great Jeremy Moore,” the man said, “I’ve got two of your books!”  This was quite a surprise, but not an unwelcome one, as I had been feeling in need of a little boost to my self-esteem. His tongue was so far in his cheek, I suspected, that I was surprised I could understand a word he was saying.

Then he introduced himself. His name was John and he was an anti-windfarm campaigner. He reminded me that he had accosted me in an Aberystwyth cafe one day and been critical of my pro-windfarm stance. For my part I remembered the episode and how annoyed I had been. On Sunday he suggested that I must have changed my mind on the subject of windfarms but in fact I haven’t; I’ve never felt comfortable about wind turbines in the landscape but they don’t send me in to paroxisms of indignation every time one comes into view. We all use electricity. Wind turbines remind us of the uncomfortable fact that it has to come from somewhere, and we don’t like it.

About ten years ago I had an exhibition at MOMA Wales, a lovely little gallery in Machynlleth, Powys. The subject matter was a small area of land high up in the Rheidol valley – ‘wild Wales’ if ever it existed anywhere. The Battle of Hyddgen had taken place there over six hundred years ago. During my research for the exhibition I came across a poem by the great Welsh priest/poet R.S. Thomas, who had felt the weight of the ages while in this place. With the permission of his son, I reproduced the poem and framed it alongside the images in the exhibition. Shortly afterwards the hilltops surrounding Hyddgen had been proposed for a windfarm, the biggest in Wales.

John had taken a group of anti’s up to Hyddgen and recited the poem, which he believed I had written. So not only, in his estimation,  was I a notable anti-windfarm personality but was also poet of great wisdom and insight! No wonder he thought I must have changed my mind.

For the record, the windfarm has not yet been built, partly thanks to a concerted campaign by the anti’s. There is more doubt now than ever that the thing will go ahead, but if it does, we will be able to see part of it from our house. But if I were ever able to bounce a grandchild on my knee and answer the question “Grandad, what did you do about climate change?” I wouldn’t like to have to say “I campaigned against wind turbines in the Welsh hills”.

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