The Singing Hills


The images in this gallery were displayed in the Senedd in Cardiff, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Redhouse Cymru in Merthyr Tydfil, and Galeri Caernarfon as part of the Many Voices, One Nation commission from Assembly Wales and Ffotogallery.


The Singing Hills is a series of portraits and landscapes that portray Welsh descendants in upstate New York and Vermont, as well as their relatives and ancestral home in North Wales. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s, many Welsh people emigrated to the US to escape poverty and suppression of their identity in order to make a better life overseas. The American Welsh in these portraits are proud of their heritage, though some are worried that the next generation will lose this identity. In North Wales, many people spoke of helping forge international links for Wales as it continues to find its path after devolution. Both groups feel that their connections to each other are important to maintaining traditions and language and seeking out a place for their culture in the world.

Black and white portrait of Cerwyn Price-Jones in the kitchen of the farmhouse his family built at Castell Caeronwy in Snowdonia.

Cerwyn Price-Jones in the farmhouse his family built. His father emigrated to America along with four brothers and three sisters but returned to Wales in 1910. One of his uncles who stayed in America had 17 children so there is a large Price-Jones family in the USA. "Home, Wales, is like a magnet", he said, perhaps that is what draws people with Welsh ancestry to connect with the global Welsh.

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Black and white landscape photograph of sheep grazing near Castell Caeronwy, the Price-Jones home, among the mountains of Snowdonia. A pile of slate is visible behind them.

Sheep and slate, Snowdonia. Sheep farming is perhaps an even bigger part of the landscape in North Wales than slate. These sheep are grazing near Castell Caeronwy, the Price-Jones home, among the mountains of Snowdonia.

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Black and white landscape photograph of cows grazing on hay during the winter on a dairy farm on Fairchild Road, Remsen, NY, USA.

Cows graze on hay during the winter on a dairy farm on Fairchild Road, Remsen, NY, USA. With its hills and rocky soil, which are similar to Angelsey, Oneida County in Central New York State is known for its dairy farming, though it is increasingly struggling.

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Black and white portrait of Priscilla Jones Heburn reflected in a window of her home in Remsen NY, USA.

Priscilla Jones Heburn, Remsen NY, USA. Growing up on her family's Jones Road farm in Remsen NY, USA Priscilla Jones Heburn always heard Welsh spoken at home. It felt to her as is Wales was just over the hills. Her cousin is Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Rhun Ap Iorwerth's mother.

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Black and white portrait of Rhun Ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Anglesey / Ynys Mon, outside his home on Anglesey

Plaid Cymru Assembly Member Rhun Ap Iorwerth. Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Anglesey / Ynys Mon Rhun Ap Iorwerth believes Wales must develop better relations with the Welsh diaspora to have a more global presence. His mother is a cousin to Priscilla Jones Heburn of Remsen NY, USA.

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Black and white landscape photograph of  the slate mines of the Penrhyn Quarry seen from across the rooftops of homes in Bethesda.

Slate mined mountains behind Bethesda, North Wales. Slate is part of the landscape almost everywhere you go in North Wales, whether it has been quarried or not. It is said that the slate from Snowdonia roofed the world. Here the slate mines of the Penrhyn Quarry can be seen from across the Carneddi in Bethesda.

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Black and white landscape photograph of a slate mine in Slate Valley, near Granville, NY, on the border with Vermont.

Slate mining in Slate Valley, Granville NY, USA. Just like in Snowdonia slate mining is part of the industry in Slate Valley, near Granville, NY, on the border with Vermont. The area has a large population descended from Welsh emigrants.Just like in Snowdonia slate mining is part of the industry in Slate Valley, near Granville, NY, on the border with Vermont, USA. 

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Black and white portrait of Janet Bradley Milburn at Moel y Don, Anglesey, looking towards Y Felinheli across the Menai Strait.

Janet Bradley Milburn looking towards Y Felinheli across the Menai Strait. Janet's Great Uncle, Janice Edwards' grandfather, emigrated to America on a slate ship that left from Y Felinheli.

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Black and white portrait of Janice Edwards is an active member of the Poultney Area St. David's Society in her study at home.

Janice Edwards is an active member of the Poultney Area St. David's Society in Vermont and the Welsh-American Genealogy Society (WAGS). She is related to Brenda Jones and Janet Bradley Milburn who reside in North Wales.

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Black and white portrait of Brenda Jones of Llanwnda, near Caernarfon.

Brenda Jones of Llanwnda, near Caernarfon, is related to Janice Edwards of Poultney, VT USA through her father’s uncles, quarry men who went to America at the end of the 1800s looking for work. 

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Black and white landscape photograph of the houses that now stand on the site of Erw Bian, the former farm of Brenda Jones family.

Houses now stand on the site of Erw Bian, the former farm of Brenda Jones family, who related to Janice Edwards of Poultney, VT, USA. The family were persuaded to exchange this farm for two others, on lesser land as it turned out, by Thomas Assheton Smith. Smith built a railway from Llanberis to Y Felinheli in order to transport slate to the ships waiting to take it to America.

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Black and white portrait of Thomas Hughes stands outside the former chapel in Llanllechid where his Great Grandparents were married.

Thomas Hughes of Vermont in Llanllechid, North Wales. Thomas Hughes stands outside the former chapel in Llanllechid where his Great Grandparents were married.

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Black and white portrait of Emlyn Hywel Thomas in the garden of the house his father built in Abergwyngregyn, with the house his grandfather built behind him.

Emlyn Hywel Thomas in Abergwyngregyn, North Wales. Hywel is an active geneologist and has identified many relatives in America. He recently discovered that he is distantly related to Thomas Hughes of Vermont by DNA testing. 

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Black and white landscape photograph of wind turbines looming over a farm in Herkimer County, NY, USA.

The expansion of renewable energy is evident in the high plains and hills of both Central New York and North Wales. Here wind turbines loom over a farm in Herkimer County, NY, USA.

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Black and white landscape photograph of wind turbines and electricity pylons  in the hills of Snowdonia not far from Caernarfon.

Wind turbines are as much a feature of the landscape as the electricity pylons in the hills of Snowdonia not far from Caernarfon. Tourism is a large industry in North Wales so there is a tension between the necessity for new energy sources and maintain the landscape that attracts so many visitors each year.

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Black and white portrait of two of the Williams bothers stand outside a barn on their family property in Garndolbenmaen, North Wales.

Two of the Williams bothers, who are related by family marriage to the Humphreys brothers in New Hartford NY USA, stand outside a barn on their family property in Garndolbenmaen, North Wales.

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Black and white portrait of the Humphreys brothers, standing outside a barn on the family farm in New Hartford, USA. A Welsh dragon can be seen painted on the barn.

The Humphreys brothers, whose grandfather, Hugh Humphreys, emigrated from Garndolbenmaen in North Wales to the USA in 1904, stand outside a barn on the family farm in New Hartford, USA.

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Black and white landscape photograph of a Welsh family dairy farm near Remsen, NY, USA in summer with wildflowers.

A Welsh family dairy farm near Remsen, NY, USA. With its hills and rocky soil, which are similar to Angelsey, Oneida County in Central New York State is known for its dairy farming, though it is increasingly struggling.

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