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Built in 1928, ’Bwlch-y-Clawdd’ (Gap in the Hedge) is a mountain pass (450m) that connects the Rhondda Valley - In South Wales - to the town where I was born and still live, Bridgend. It is also connected to the Afan Valley via the A4107, which leads through to the coastline and industrial town of Port Talbot. The Bwlch road itself is the A4061, which stretches approximately 25 miles.
Not only did the pass offer a lifeline to the isolated valleys, and present greater job opportunities for the local people but it also provided an essential shortcut for valley based industry; predominantly coal related. My parents used the pass themselves to make their own move to Bridgend in 1966; starting their own business there shortly after.
Loosely based around nostalgia, ‘Gap in the Hedge’ reflects on a journey I used to make with my Mother to visit relatives in the Rhondda Valley, every Saturday when I was a small boy. It was my first taste of a road trip and I can recall almost every inch of the journey. I’d sit there in the front seat of my Mother’s little red car utterly absorbed and mesmerised by the forests, terraced houses and falling rock warning signs. The journey seemed to take forever, but we were only ever around 30 minutes from home.
This series not only attempts to document the beauty of this iconic piece of South Wales landscape, but also explores the relationship that the people - whether locals, tourists or workers - have with the landscape and environment. And ultimately, what lies ahead for this part of South Wales following Brexit and the abolition of EU funding. The immediate villages of Nantymoel and Cwmparc - both of which are former mining communities - either side of the mountain, are incorporated into the project, as the pair both sit in the shadow of ‘The Bwlch’.