In the 70′s, in his hometown of Merthyr Tydﬁl and the nearby village of Heolgerrig, 19 year old photography student Robert Haines photographed his family, his friends, and sometimes just total strangers, capturing what he thought were ordinary moments in the lives of ordinary people. Heolgerrig was a very close-knit community. Welsh was the ﬁrst language. It was a mining community, and most of the men worked underground. Life then seemed to revolve around the pub and the chapel. Yet it was a very cultured place; art was encouraged and admired above all. He remembers a great-aunt telling him that her son was going to waste his life because he had become a successful barrister – if only he’d become a musician or an artist, she said. The colliers believed highly in education, which resulted in a mass exodus from the area by their educated sons and daughters in the search for decent jobs.
Forty years later he rediscovered the box. Suddenly the people in the photographs didn’t seem so ordinary any more. Now everybody wanted to see the images. Dewi Lewis published a book of the images and several exhibitions followed. The story of the forgotten photographs became national news with features on television and in The Guardian and The Independent. The Independent story was their most popular story on their website for nearly two weeks.
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