A New Book by Bernard Mitchell – Available Now.
An unprecedented collection of photographic portraits of notable characters within the arts community in Wales, Pieces of a Jigsaw is based on Bernard Mitchell’s ongoing Welsh Arts Archive project. The project began in 1966 with a series of portraits of the Swansea friends of Dylan Thomas, including the artists Ceri Richards and Alfred Janes, the poet Vernon Watkins, and the composer Daniel Jones. The collection kept growing and now features many leading artists and writers who have significantly contributed to Welsh culture in the late twentieth century, including Will Roberts, Josef Herman, Max Boyce, Jan Morris, Ernest Zobole, Emyr Humphreys and Gwyneth Lewis.
Bernard Mitchell was born in Morriston, Swansea, in 1947. His interest in photography began at junior school with a cardboard pinhole camera. The present of a Kodak 127 and various cameras throughout school helped him develop his knowledge and interest in the fundamentals of photography. After leaving school, he studied photography at the Berkshire college of art Reading Before joining Thomson Regional Newspapers as an indentured photojournalist. Following a long career in newspapers, Bernard returned to Swansea in 2003 to study for a Masters degree in photography at Swansea Metropolitan University. In 2016 Bernard gifted his archive of photographs of artists and writers of Wales to the Richard Burton Archive at Swansea University.
Meeting Tracey Moberly, Sarah Hopkins and Martyn Ware
6th November 2015.
Today I met and photographed the collaborators of a project working title ‘Power’, namely Tracey Moberly, Sarah Hopkins and Martyn Ware. Enthusiastically they told me of the aim of the project and their family connections with the steel and coal industry, which got them fusing ideas in the first instance. Through exploring the five senses the project will bring together the talents of all the artists, exploring each other’s trades. So far they have been recording sounds, visuals and print-making to create an exhibition which will be ready to showcase next year.
Images by Beth Allender
A visit to a Rhymney Valley terrace, a small nook of a Welsh mining village, we meet Tracey Moberly, multidisciplinary artist. Given Ms Moberly’s latest intended artistic excursion into “power”, with Heaven 17’s Martin Ware and artist Sarah Hopkins, and her passion of heritage, we make our way to the obvious place for a photoshoot – the former colliery at Penallta.
The colliery near Hengoed is formerly South Wales’ deepest coalfield; its Grade 2 buildings grand and surprisingly ornate, despite their state of dereliction. The headgear of the two shafts are proposed to be part of a pioneering housing development scheme. The site is breath-taking. You can almost inhale the past.
Tracey is warm and humble; ballsy and mischievous. These are traits that certainly come through in her work. She is in tune with the past, whilst embracing the future. She is an activist, a lecturer and artist. She has been selected as artist is residence for an upcoming expedition to the Arctic Pole.
Giancarlo Gemin. Children’s author, and winner of Tir an N-og prize for children’s literature on 14th May 2015
Maurice Sheppard photographed in his studio and home in Haverfordwest. Maurice was the first Welsh president of The Royal Watercolour Society.
Looking back to the 1970’s, unlike today’s riots of looting and arson, it was a period of politically motivated demonstrations for a well defined cause. Anti-apartheid. Anti-Vietnam War, Ban the bomb, animal rights, and don’t forget the Irish problem. Violence was often the end result of what should have been a peaceful protest. I seemed to be always there; perhaps the picture desk was trying to give me a message? In February 1970, a mass of anti –apartheid protesters had managed to occupy the end stand at what was to become the last Springbok game in London at the time. Massed ranks of uniformed police tipped protesters trying to get onto the pitch back into the crowd, where plain clothed police made the situation worse, particularly for myself.
After leaving the Berkshire College of Art, Reading, I joined Thomson Regional Newspapers on the Watford Evening Echo at Hemel Hempstead in 1967 first as a darkroom assistant and then as an indentured photographer.
I met Max Boyce for the first time in August 1975, a rare working visit to Wales as a freelance taking photographs for the Saturday Arts page of the Guardian. I photographed him outside the modest terraced house where he lived in Glyn Neath. At the time he had completed the memorable ‘ Live at Treorchy’ album. Max was packing out the halls and clubs across South Wales, and as he would say, in his own words, ‘I was there ‘ when he filled the Albert Hall in London. Coaches in lines from the Valleys confirmed his meteoric rise ,he was the bard of the South Wales miners. Nothing can replace the magic when Wales are beating England at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the Welsh crowd start singing his iconic song ‘Hymns and Arias’. He performs with joy and humour, enough to warm the cockles of any proud Welshman’s heart.