Commissioned by Cardiff & Bristol Schools of Social Sciences 'Productive Margins'
We had eight days to co-produce, gather material from the community to then formulate the resulting exhibition. Given the timescale and the sensitivity of the subject matter, this project was extremely challenging. I quickly had to formulate a framework for myself, to work within. From the post industrial external landscape bordering the North Gurnos, partly reclaimed by nature. Then to the internal urban landscape of the North Gurnos estates, leading to the internal landscape of the North Gurnos residential care home. Arguably ending with the informal, humanising conversational portraits of the residents themselves, the final internal landscape.
From out to in. A journey looking to identify issues of isolation and loneliness. Critically examining the natural, urban and social landscapes through my lens. These observations, photographs informed by conversations. Through out the journey, these conversations were informally conducted with the community groups and service providers, that closely related to, or interacted with those said landscapes. I produced visual metaphors and narratives to stimulate thought, around the causes and issues of isolation and loneliness. Not prescriptive, not literal; alluding to the theme. Giving the viewer entry points to the images, a starting point of discovery. Hopefully to reward the viewer with their own examination and interpretations.
"Over the past nine months researchers, artists and community members have been participating in conversations about older people’s isolation and loneliness in the community of North Merthyr."
"This exhibition celebrates North Merthyr and its elderly residents, through photography, recorded conversations, poetry and music."
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Exhibition at The Redhouse - MERTHYR TALKS ISOLATION & LONELINESS
"From bingo groups, to walking groups, to care homes, to voluntary run cafes, to the streets, to the wide open landscape, Merthyr has a story to tell."
Community Feedback & News
"Turnout on Wed was especially good. Judith's computer group from 3Gs came along and Neville (walking group co-ordinator and 'Gate Keeper') and his partner dropped in too. We had visits from various service providers met with Anthony Bunko in the space on Saturday and he wants to use the prints for the Merthyr Rising festival."
"Isolation is a major issue for people with hearing loss – “blindness cuts us from things, deafness from people.” Unfortunately over half of over 60’s will have a hearing loss. There is help and groups out there but many won’t do anything about it. It’s hard at the best of times but even harder when you have a hearing loss. You can be lonely in a large group because of communication problems and the ‘hearing’ don’t have time and patience to communicate with you."
"Fabulous pictures, really brought home to me the threat of isolation and loneliness and also the great outcomes that can be made through encouraging people to join in. Plus, must phone family more often!"
"Why segregate the old? Surely, like people of all ages, they need to mix with people from a range of ages? (Although of course they may find too much time with younger people irritating!)"
"I was very touched by the photos. Thank you for the poetry!"
"How thought provoking. Stop…take time to take it in."
"Enlightening and sad at the same time. Great way to raise awareness!"
"When the skies are grey
I stand and stare alone
No time to share, no one
To come and say hello
No one to know I’m there
If I didn’t have the 3Gs I might not be here"
"Does co-operative housing reduce isolation and loneliness? Thanks. Good exhibition."
"So nice to see the pictures as you walk around. You can see and feel that loneliness is a curse on our society. So sad to see the helplessness in the eyes of those photographed, which once had so much life."
"Excellent exhibition which tackles the often taboo subject of loneliness. The more people who can admit to being lonely, the more services and activities will be needed to address the issue. We need to bring people together to alleviate the effects of loneliness and isolation and to share the knowledge of services and activities that already exist in the county borough."
"What a wonderful and rewarding project this must have been. Wonderful to hear the poet, Clare Potter, to read her work, along with the interviews on the MP3 player. Words from Clare great, though provoking."
For further information, please contact:
3Gs Development Trust: 01685 350888
15 Chestnut Way, Gurnos, Merthyr Tydfil CF47 9SB
Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The exhibition held in the PLYMOUTH Courtyard Redhouse Merthyr
Dr. Helen Manchester, Lecturer (Educational and Social Futures) University of Bristol
'Nigel worked alongside researchers and community members to take some truly wonderful photographs that made visible the older community and issues of loneliness in an evocative way. His approach was always thoughtful and sensitive and he really understood the community led approach we were keen to adopt for the project. Nigel takes an engaged approach to the people he works with and takes photographs of which results in photographs that enable us all to see the world in a slightly different way.'
Nigel Pugh - appraisal
Finally- a recurrent question which I was asked during my eight days was ’What difference will this make?' A community that has been a lab rat of study and 'assistance' for a long time. I could not answer that question. I feel my words, reflect my own frustrations.
left to bare
reflect reclaim refurbish
down valley see
barely seeing you