FAMILY OF BLAENAFON AND FAMILY OF MINERS | ART PREVIEW
Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon
Until Mon 8 Jan
Blaenavon’s Big Pit National Coal Museum is currently staging two exhibitions by the photographer Walter Waygood on life in Blaenavon, with a total duration of five months, going up until the beginning of 2018.
The photographic exhibitions aim to explore not just the mining and work of the families of the traditional mining town of Blaenavon, but also their social lives, families and religious beliefs, as well as the area’s landscape and mining heritage. It covers a time period spanning from the 1970s to the present day, while relatable, Waygood’s work has an almost otherworldly element to it that evokes an eerie yet comforting sense of hiraeth.
Waygood is particularly well known for his use of photography to provide a commentary of working class life during the 1970s and 80s. The exhibition is part of service provided by Waygood, where he hires out his photographs to educate people about history and promote his work.
A working coal mine from 1880 to 1980, Big Pit was opened as a public museum in 1983 under the original guise that it would be the National Museum of Wales. While this name now refers to a collection of museums including the Big Pit, the museum attracts roughly 140,000 visitors or tourists per year, mostly due to its fascinating guided underground tour of the mines. Its location in Blaenavon and its status as a mining museum makes it the perfect location for Waygood’s photographs to be exhibited; a fascinating look back into a romanticised period of Welsh history that’s key to the area’s identity and the hangover of which is still being felt.
The Family of Blaenafon and Family of Miners exhibitions are currently open to the public free of charge. Through photography, Waygood detail an important aspect of the recent past, making it a fascinating exhibit to attend for anyone interested in Welsh history. Even those who aren’t interested in history will find Waygood’s talent truly incredible.
Admission: free. Info: 030 0111 2333 / museum.wales/bigpit
words ALEX SWIFT