My imagination, all that I had to keep me company, was racing ahead, down the passage in search of a place to lurk and catch me out with surprise. Although my mind kept wandering and playing tricks it would always return to the absence of the men that used to work here. Their presence was palpable, this was their mine and I was trespassing. The huge cathedra-sized caverns I kept losing myself in would have been rented and worked on by one family. Grandfathers, fathers, sons, uncles, cousins, and nephews would have worked side-by-side, day in day out. These dark passages, steep crevasses and sheer drops would have been their livelihood. This was their world. They would have spent a vast part of their lives down here in the dark with nothing but a candle to illuminate the slate and show them the way.

 

I have lost count of the number of time I have returned to Cwmorthin. Known locally as the ‘Slaughterhouse’ for the terrible working conditions, this underground labyrinth of tunnels and chambers to this day retains an unusual control and hold over me. These photographs portray a legacy of wounds that once bear witness to a booming industry that has exhausted the earth of this place. They tell the story of what can happen when two different worlds collide and give birth to another. A relationship in flux that is always ebbing and flowing and therefore impossible to predict - apart from the final outcome that is. For that there can only be one winner.