“After lockdown is over,” photographer Alys Tomlinson told the Guardian in May last year, “I’ll probably look more towards stories around me. You don’t have to go to the Amazon or Antarctica to make interesting pictures.” David Wilson’s latest project, The Village, conceived and completed prior to the pandemic, bears that out.
The Village finds the photographer on familiar turf: Llangwm on the Cleddau Estuary, where he’s lived for the last two decades. However, it departs from the stunning black-and-white images of the Pembrokeshire landscape with which he’s made his name and focuses instead on people. Drawing the reader into village life – church and school, the touchline of the rugby pitch, and the local shop – along the way we meet farmers and artists, builders and model makers, the male voice choir Wrong Direction and the man who taught The Clash’s Joe Strummer to play the guitar.
In a way, the images collected in The Village are snapshots of a past that already feels distant, despite being taken only two years ago; sadly, some people featured have since passed away. Yet these affectionate portraits of people and places serve as an even more powerful tribute to the value of community than they did then, telling “a story of hope, continuity and the unconquerable human spirit” that we need to hear now more than ever.
The Village, David Wilson (Bird Eye/Graffeg)
Price: £20. Info: here
words BEN WOOLHEAD