Beyond The Forest - Images Of Transylvania At Ffotogallery In Penarth

By Caroline Lewis | 13 March 2008
Photo of a rural landscape dotted with trees with two Eastern European style hay stacks in the shape of cones

© Clare Richardson

Exhibition Preview: Beyond the Forest by Clare Richardson at Ffotogallery, Turner House, Penarth, until April 13 2008.

A stranger with a pipe and funny clothes comes to town and rids the town of rats. The townsfolk renege on their agreement to pay him for his services, and he leaves. But then he comes back, starts playing his pipe again and takes away with him a trail of all the town’s children.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a children’s tale we’re all familiar with – but photographic exhibition Beyond the Forest goes to a place where the tale is that bit more real.

Landscape photo with a man in boots standing on a hilltop, turned away from us and holding an old fashioned hay rake

© Clare Richardson

Clare Richardson travelled to meet a small farming community in Transylvania where the people are believed to be the descendants of those very children bewitched by the Piper. The magical places that were only illustrated in our fairytale books come alive in her photographs taken here.

It’s an area rich in folklore and tradition, and Richardson’s photographs capture the eerie and sometimes medieval atmosphere that still prevails. Some are landscape studies featuring gnarled trees and ghostly timbered houses, others are lyrical portraits imbued with the air of the fairytale.

Photo of a medieval stone house obscured by a glade of spindly leafless trees

© Clare Richardson

Thatched roof cottages, winding lanes, beautiful hillsides, haystacks and mystical forests evoke the faraway lands we were once enchanted by as children.

And yet while all these pictures are redolent of a tranquil, pre-industrial Europe, a disturbing undercurrent runs through them, just as gruesome events often form part of classic children’s tales by the Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen.

Portrait photo of a dark haired middle aged man in a shirt open at the collar and a straw hat, carrying some wooden poles

© Clare Richardson

Clare Richardson was born in London in 1973 and now lives and works in Carmarthenshire, West Wales. Her work has been exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and featured in Regarding Landscape, a major touring exhibition in Canada. Beyond the Forest is a Ffotogallery Touring Exhibition

This is an exhibition preview. If you’ve been to see the show, why not let us know what you think?

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