One Image: Penrhyn slate quarry, Carneddi, Bethesda

4 July 2021

Black and white photograph of the Penrhyn Slate Quarry in North Wales. In the foreground the houses of the Carneddi in Bethesda can be seen.

Penrhyn slate quarry seen from across the Carneddi in Bethesda

The quarrying of slate is synonymous with North Wales and slate is part of the landscape almost everywhere you go there. Slate from Snowdonia was shipped around the world for roofing and other uses. It is also intrinsically part of the story of several people I have photographed, particularly those in the Slate Valley of Vermont. Janet Bradley Milburn’s Great Uncle, who was also Janice Edwards’ grandfather, emigrated to America on a slate ship that left from the port of Y Felinheli. 

I knew I wanted an image of a slate quarry for this project, and at least one family in my project originally comes from Carneddi in Bethesda. The idea formed that perhaps I could get a view of the quarry from that location. I hiked up the steep lanes that lead up the hills of the Carneddi to look for a vantage point. It was a warm day, so I was soon sweating. 

As I hiked, I started to notice how the roofs of the houses mimicked the interlocking landscape of the mountains. Backtracking my steps, cris-crossing lanes I’d already walked, crouching or standing on gates and walls, I looked at the town and quarry from many different angles. I made quite a few images, but I like the balance of this one. The houses feel like part of the landscape; the people who live in them, part of the land.

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