David Hurn at The Kickplate Gallery, Abertillery

David Hurn at The Kickplate Gallery, Abertillery

27 May 2016, Posted by kate_mercer in Community, Kickplate Gallery, Out & About

This week saw the opening an exhibition by Magnum Photos’ David Hurn at The Kickplate Gallery in Abertillery. Having been supporting David with various projects for over 4 years now, this project sticks out particularly in my mind because of it’s more informal, community nature.


David Hurn (Magnum Photos) - 'As It Was' exhibition at The Kickplate Gallery, Abertillery. Poster design: Zoe Jones - USW (BA) Graphic Communication

David Hurn (Magnum Photos) – ‘As It Was’ exhibition at The Kickplate Gallery, Abertillery. Poster design: Zoe Jones – USW (BA) Graphic Communication

Having moved back from London to Wales in the 1970’s, David spent a lot of time around the Abertillery, Cwm, Six Bells and Blaenserchan Colliery area of South Wales. Teaching at Newport Art College as it existed in those days, he met his good friend and renowned Welsh painter John Selway, who lived in the area (and still does to this day), subsequently spending lots of time up there photographing. The exhibition at The Kickplate Gallery in Abertillery – a community art space set up for and maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers without any public funding to date, and of which John is also chairman of – ‘As It Was’ is a selection of work he has made in and around the area over a period of 40 years linked with the district.

As many people will know, David is a photographer of an international reputation. His latest book, ‘The 60’s Photographed by David Hurn’ published by Reel Art Press (2016) has received critical acclaim. To some it might seem odd that he has chosen to support a small volunteer led space high up in the South Wales valleys. The reality is it is not – often it is projects like this that animate the moments captured in reportage or documentary photography the most; the stories and experiences of a local community and how they relate back to the images are historically invaluable, and often can pass on one way of life from one generation to another. For example, mining in a post-industrial community; buildings knocked down before neighbourhoods were rebuilt and regenerated with new house; chapel walks on Easter weekends, parties and sing-a-longs in a pre-digital age; how people engaged with others before we began to communicate parts of our lives online through social media.

I know how much David has enjoyed working with the team at The Kickplate Gallery on this relatively modest exhibition, especially encouraging ways for it to be taken further. As part of the exhibition, The Kickplate Gallery invited students from (BA) Graphic Communication at University of South Wales to design a collectible poster to mark the event, won by second year student Zoe Jones (included below). This poster will be on sale throughout the duration of the exhibition for £10, the proceeds of which go to fundraising for the gallery itself. So, get them whilst you can! And feel double good about it as you’ll be support and safeguarding the survival of a community space and cultural resource that enriches the life of it’s neighbours to boot.

As part of the exhibition, The Kickplate Gallery team will be gathering stories from members of the communities featured in David’s photographs, all of which will go onto be published in the local paper ‘The Dynamic’, go on to form a historical document of the area and be given to a local museum to pass on the heritage of this community to future generations. If you have a story you would like to share – get in contact with gallery co-ordinator Liz Baker either on Facebook through The Kickplate Gallery’s page, or via email at ebakerbartlett@aol.com Alternatively,you can share your stories about Abertillery directly with The Dynamic on their Facebook page here.

The exhibition at The Kickplate Gallery continues until 2pm on Saturday 18th June 2016 – please check opening times before you travel (due to the voluntary nature of the gallery team, opening times sometimes change and at short notice – check to avoid disappointment).

To find out more information about The Kickplate Gallery, get in touch with them at:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/thekickplategallery

Twitter – www.twitter.com/KickplateGal