Paul White on location at Nash Point in Glamorgan 2009
1995 - 1997 Nottingham Trent University
1993 - 1995 Carmarthen College of Technology and Art
Aberystwyth Art Centre 1992
Aberystwyth Museum 1995
Henry Thomas Gallery, Carmarthen 1998
Swansea Museum 1999
Nottingham Museum 1999
Shrewsbury Art Centre 1999
MOMA Wales, Y Tabernacl, Machynlleth 1999
Cardigan Theatre Mwldan 2000
Elan Valley Visitors Centre, Rhayader 2003
Colwyn Bay Library Gallery 2006
Llanrwst Almshouse 2006
Newport Museum 2005/06
National Assembly of Wales, Cardiff 2006 - 2007
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Novemeber 2007
Hammerson PLC, Grosvenor Street, London 2008
Penrhyn Castle Aug. 2008
Penrhyn Castle Oct. 2008
Brighton Museum & Art Gallery 2008 - 2009
Ceredigon Museum, Aberystwyth 2009
Tower House Gallery, Knighton 2011
Norman Rea Gallery, York University 2012
Carmarthen Museum 2012
Tower House Gallery, Knighton 2012
Tower House Gallery, Knighton (Nov - Dec 2013)
Tregaron Library (with Painter/Photographer Fiona Wright) 1991
National Eisteddfod of Wales 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996
Atrium Gallery, Cheltenham 1994
Wrexham Library 1998
National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth holds 140 images in its archives of ‘Derelict Mansions of Wales’
Private collections throughout UK, Europe and USA.
'Attempt to Depict Hafod in Cardiganshire' by David S. Yerburgh 2000
'Inscape' Journal Nos 59 2005
'Country Quest' April 2007
'In This Place' by Trevor Fishlock 2007
'Planet: The Welsh Internationalist' Issue 189 June/July 2008
'Ancestral Houses: The Derelict Mansions of Wales' with Damian Walford Davies & Sian Melagell Dafydd
'Poet's Graves' with Damian Walford Davies & Mererid Hopwood
Bibliographical Details and Influences:
I was born in Leicestershire in 1971. In 1983 my family moved to Ceredigion in Mid Wales. I purchased my first 35mm camera when I was seventeen years of age and then at eighteen moved to a medium format camera. By the time I was twenty one, in 1990, I purchased a wooden field camera – which is still the camera I use today.
I have moved around the UK and in the last twenty years have lived in Carmarthen, Nottingham, Bristol, Brighton but always return to settle back into my adopted native Wales. I continue with a number of aspects of photography; ruined farms and cottages, abstractions and the landscape around me. It is these three specialities that will fulfil my creative mind until I am too old to lug around the equipment.
The Lost Houses of Wales – Thomas Lloyd
The Companion Guide to South Wales – Elizabeth Beazley & Peter Howell
The Companion Guide to North Wales - Elizabeth Beazley & Peter Howell
Forgotten Welsh Houses – Michael Tree & Mark Baker
Houses of the Welsh Countryside – Peter Smith
Glamorgan – The Greater Houses - The Royal Commission
Peterwell – Bethan Phillips
About Aberpergwm - Elizabeth F. Belcham
Peacocks in Paradise – Elisabeth Inglis-Jones
Shell Guides to Wales series
Tours in Wales 1811 – Richard Fenton
Wild Wales – George Borrows
A Tour in Wales – Thomas Pennant
Good Men and True - Erwyd Howells
The Welsh House - Iorwerth Cyfeiliog Peate
Historic Parks & Gardens in Ceredigion - Caroline Palmer with Penny David & Ros Laidlaw
Historic Carmarthenshire Homes and their Families - Francis Jones
Historic Cardiganshire Homes and their Families - Francis Jones
Struggle for survival in the Cardiganshire hills - Alan & Sally Leech
Up the Claerwen - Sid Wright (superb travelogue from 1955)
The Cambrian Mountains Initiative - Historic Buildings Pilot Project - Richard Hayman (PDF internet)
Ordnance Survey Pathfinder & Landranger series maps
Pevesner Architectural Guides: The Building of Wales Series. (complete list below)
Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion - Thomas Lloyd, Julian Orbach and Robert Scourfield
Clwyd, - Edward Hubbard
Glamorgan - John Newman
Gwent/Monmouthshire - John Newman
Gwynedd - Richard Haslam, Julian Orbach and Adam Voelcker
Pembrokeshire - Thomas Lloyd, Julian Orbach and Robert Scourfield
Powys - Richard Haslam
see 'links' page
Photography is both a scientific and creative art form. I have never considered myself a particularly technical photographer. I use certain methods and have used the same film and developer (unless discontinued) for almost twenty five years. I am pleased about this and although I have experimented with different processes and various films, paper and chemicals I have always felt they detracted from the subject matter in a photograph rather than enhance.
I also use very little darkroom trickery as possible. I will however add some tone to a featureless sky, if the picture would benefit, and lighten deep shadows if they reveal detail that would enhance the finished print. I like my photography to be simply created. I like the fact that I could, if required, take a photograph and then produce a print without the aid of electricity. I use a battery in my light meter but experience has taught me I could estimate this. There is also a lamp in my enlarger but this too could be either replaced with channelled daylight or a contact print of the negative could be made. This makes the photographic process a little more of an organic experience.
This is the reason I continue to use traditional sheet film rather than use a digital camera. I enjoy the procedure; loading film, taking a photograph, unloading film (and then); loading film into a developing tank, developing the film, unloading film from the developing tank (and then); drying the film, placing the film in an enlarger and then finally making the print and watching it under the red safelight forming before your eyes.
The time spent in a darkroom working on a few select negatives remains, for me at least, one of the true pleasures of photography. The excitement of a promising negative that produces a print equal to, and occasionally beyond, that excitement often leaves me laughing as loud as the birds at dawn. When a successful photograph emerges from the fixing chemicals and is quickly washed then examined under daylight and that single image captures everything you had hoped it would capture but then also has some tiny element that increases its brilliance, a photographer then realises that all that purpose, all those 3am starts, all those miles sweating under the weight of equipment, has all been worthwhile.
I am not seeking that one true perfect photograph. I am seeking a portfolio of work that I will be content with.
All photographs taken using Wista 5x4inch field camera with
75mm, 90mm, 135mm, 150mm, 180mm and 210mm Schnieder and Rodenstock lenses.
Various Medium format cameras for handheld work, currently using a Pentax 67ii
Printed on De Vere Cathomag Enlarger.
Ilford & Kodak & Agfa film used and processed using Ilford and Kentmere papers.
Like many photographers I tend to buy and sell lenses as I go along... if I feel dissatisfied with any particular lens then I usually sell it and try something else...
Currently, my trusted lenses are:
Schneider Super Angulon 90mm F5.6 (Used the most often, a true workhorse!)
Schneider Super Angulon 120mm F8
Schneider Super Angulon 75mm F5.6
Sinaron-s 150mm F5.6
Fujinon 125mm F5.6
Kowa Graphic process lens 150mm F9 & Repro Claron 135mm F8 (for abstract work)
Kodak Etkar 203mm F7,7
I find all these lenses cover 99% of my needs and am happy with their coverage and sharpness.
Previously I've used Apo Ronar's (150mm), G-claron (150mm, 210mm 240mm), Apo-Lanthar's (150mm), Xenar's (135mm, 150mm, 180mm, 210mm), Geronar's (90mm, 150mm), Fujinon's (150mm) and various Grandagon's, Symmar's and Apo-Symmar's - some of these lens have been superb (notably, and surprisingly, the Geronar 90mm - my first large format lens which I had for fifteen years before being rendered useless) and the modern version of the Xenar 150mm and have been disappointed with some of the so-called superior pieces of glass (Apo-Lanthar, Grandagon 90mm F4.5)...
Of course, most of my failures have been my own doing, badly exposed/processed/focussed/camera blur etc etc...
A special thanks must go to the manufacturers of Kentmere Photographic Papers for part sponsoring me on and off for the last 10 years.
A further thanks also to all those people who have emailed and written suggesting potential sites and those people who have given directions whilst I have been out searching for these properties. And, of course, to those who have sent either via email or hard copy images of houses that have been long demolished or properties I simply had no idea existed.
Notes on why I photograph...
When I was younger, 6 or 7 years old, and living in a small village in Leicestershire I would wake early every morning around 6am. I rose before my family, raided the biscuit tin, and left the house.
Quietly, I lifted the latch up off the door, and slowly, wheeled my bicycle through the side alley and past the front of the house. My little legs moved speedily once away from the house.
I cycled to the newsagent and purchased sweets and soccer stickers. I also wandered around.
I was a shy child and did not speak much, nor with clarity. The streets of where I lived were quiet at that time, very few people, fewer cars. I sought the green areas of my village, those beyond the ever increasing urban sprawl. I presume I sought the solitude and quietness.
A few years later when I was 12 my parents moved to West Wales. Over the years I walked over my area; following streams, climbing fences, exploring marsh and wetlands, pathways and hills. The landscape opened up for me.
It wasn’t until I was 17 years old did I really notice the light at the beginning and ending of each day. One evening I went out walking across a field not far from where we lived. The low light cast an orange glow and lit the trees and hedgerows with warmth of slowly burning embers. It was at that point that I thought I should purchase a camera a document such times.
My first exposures, in colour, were not particularly impressive but after a month I exposed my first ever black and white film. I walked up to the abandoned lead mining works of Cwmystwyth (Ceredigion), and exposed a whole roll of film quite rapidly.
Once the prints were returned from the processors I immediately knew I had found the medium that suited my demands. Over the following two years I explored the Cambrian Mountains, which were walking distance to where I lived. My desire for solitude was easily found. The results from my photographing from this time was not always satisfying and although I had almost immediately began printing my own work the quality I sought lacked.
At this time I was working as an assistant in the photographic department of the University library in Aberystwyth. Although not extensive, the library held a healthy number of monographs of photographers’ works. I began reading all I could and was especially drawn to the work of Lee Friedlander, Ansel Adams, Minor White and Edward Weston.
Edward Weston’s Daybooks struck a spiritual and emotive chord within me. Weston had passion. His words and life helped me grow, slowly, a photographic sense. I understood his viewpoints and why he’d made certain exposures.
I purchased a large format camera. I was 21 years old. I considered every image as if it was my ultimate image. I took my time, breathed and let the subject in through my lens and onto the ground glass. A learning curve had begun and a quality to my images that equalled the purpose to my wanderings.
The landscape photographer must, on some level, be self contained. To consistently walk around, deep within a landscape, one must become un-engaged with the human world and enter a kind of trance with your subject matter. This has a consequence of loneliness. On reflection this is a necessity. Without solitude I do not believe I could have found the focus, perhaps borne out of boredom, to dedicate myself to the photographic practice.
A days outing – a walk was planned, a map scanned for possible interest, a route weaved. The gear prepared. The alarm set for an early rise. And from these uncertain steps an adventure begins, hopefully accumulating in seeing some sights; rock formations, wildlife, a ruined cottage, a twisted tree and finding some thoughts worthwhile as well as some songs sung along the way. And after a day out, walking home content, the anticipation of a hot meal, then a quick rest. After a rest preparing the chemicals to develop the negatives, and, if energy allowed, setting up the darkroom.
Many prints were made and many, many disappointments and so few successes but nonetheless always making, though not necessarily realising it, headway and tiny steps towards a passion as shared by millions of others.
I was eventually persuaded by a friend to attend college to study photography further. I spent two years at Carmarthen College in South Wales and a further two years at Nottingham Trent University. I found a life outside my solitude, a solitude I still cherished, but I also found a space to let people in.
Whilst at college I became aware of the work of Aaron Siskind. Edward Weston had taught me to find a substance in my subject matter. Siskind did the same but by flattening the perspective. His work came as a revelation. His images, as Weston’s had some years back, sat comfortable with me and once explored on the page his images became tactile. Could it be they seemed to act as a parallel emotion to my solitude?
I soon began documenting tiny abstractions in walls and old signs. For me, as it did for Siskind, my work acted as a universal language. Alongside this however, and for what I am most well known, are my images of Welsh ruined mansions, farmhouses and cottages. Each week I discover another mansion, or farm that has been left to the elements. Each are individual in their decay, each has their own special character and I remember each fondly for one reason or another. Slowly but surely I intend to document as many properties as possible and hopefully create a strong portfolio which will act as both historical reference as well as artistic statement.
Paul White October 2008 (revised Dec 2014)
Blaen Blodau 2009
Wista Field Camera used by Paul White.
A 5x4 inch negative. The larger negative size means it needs less enlargement and therefore the grain structure is less magnified hence a better quality image.
Copa Hill, Cwmystwyth Lead Mines 1993
Pub Sign Abstraction, Nottingham 1997
Llanstinan House 2009
Beudiau, Ceredigon 2009
Road to Nanteos 2009