A vibrant selection of photographs depicting Cardiff’s history will be on display at Wales Millennium Centre from 5 April 2012. The new exhibition, titled Cardiff Before Cardiff, promises a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day lives of the city’s residents past and present.
Cardiff-based freelance photographer Jon Pountney discovered more than a thousand photography negatives and three hundred prints whilst renovating Warwick Hall in Gabalfa, Cardiff in late 2010. They were taken by Cardiff photographer Keith S. Robertson during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and predominantly depict the city’s areas of Splott, Butetown and Adamsdown. Although only 30 years old, the scenes in Keith’s photographs seem a world away from the Cardiff that we know today.
Unaware of who Keith was, or why the photographs had been left in the building, Jon launched an internet campaign through social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to find the names of the people and places in the photographs. He received an overwhelming response, and since has been re-photographing as many of the subjects and locations as possible.
Jon speaks of just one of the heart-warming and melancholic stories that he has uncovered since beginning the project: “One man contacted me to say he had seen one of the pictures and that the woman in it was him mum. He had never seen the picture – it was hidden away for 25 years. Now she has Alzheimer’s and it reminded him of a happier time.”
Jon has since found Keith and re-united him with his lost work; Jon says: “I feel very privileged to have finally met the man behind the photographs, and someone who has been such a great inspiration for my own work. To have Keith’s approval for the project is brilliant, and really makes all of the hard work seem worthwhile”.
Conrad Lynch, Artistic Director at Wales Millennium Centre said: “We are thrilled to have a photographic exhibition at the Centre that is so integral to the people of Cardiff’s lives and histories. The combination of Jon’s and Keith’s work provides a fascinating insight into Cardiff life past and present.”
The exhibition comprises of nearly 100 photographs, and Keith’s unseen pictures will be displayed alongside Jon’s pictures of Cardiff today, giving the viewer an insight into how the city has changed over the past 30 years. To stay true to Keith’s work, Jon has used 35mm film throughout the project, and has also built a custom darkroom to print all of the photographs for the exhibition.
Cardiff Before Cardiff will run at Wales Millennium Centre from 5 April – 27 May 2012. The exhibition is free of charge. For further information visit: http://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2012-2013/18969/79765