Exhibition preview: Ken Griffiths – Quiet Heroes, Ffotogallery, Penarth, August 3-24 2013
Although he is perhaps better known for his award-winning advertising campaigns for clients including BT, Sainsbury’s and Audi, Ken Griffiths’ personal projects reveal his true skill as a photographer.
© Ken Griffiths
His previous personal projects include extended photo essays on the Texas panhandle, the Smithfield meat market and more recently the experience of Welsh migrants in Patagonia. Whilst exploring the shapes and forms of landscapes from all over the world, Griffiths still has the ability to capture his sitters’ dignity and pride.
Griffiths’ personal connection to Wales is strong. His family lived for generations in Merthyr Tydfil and Newport until they migrated to Australia and then New Zealand where Griffiths was born. He now spends a considerable amount of time in Snowdon.
Quiet Heroes continues Griffiths’ interest in the Welsh experience through a series of portraits that celebrate the individuals who make an extraordinary contribution to their local community.
The Welsh are known for their strong sense of local belonging, which Griffiths has captured by recording the people in their home environment. The interplay between landscape and people is revealed in his work as it moves from the mountains in the North down to the valleys in the South, and from the fishing communities in the West to the agricultural countryside of the East. Each location influences the sitters differently.
The interaction between individuals and their surroundings is one that Griffiths has explored before. In 2001, he began an extended essay comparing Patagonia today with the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when early Welsh settlers arrived.
Griffith was moved by their quest for a home in which they could preserve their language and culture, battling what must have seemed like insurmountable odds to do so.
In a similar fashion, Quiet Heroes seeks to create a record of community life in Wales today that will live on long after the people, and possibly the world they inhabit, have long gone.
- Open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-5pm. Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @ffotogallery.
Visit Sarah Jackson's blog and follow her on Twitter.