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Cardiff News South Wales

University of South Wales Station to Station project provides glimpse into valleys life

DOCUMENTARY Photography students at the University of South Wales (USW) have travelled on two of Wales’s best known railway lines to capture portraits of everyday life in the South Wales valleys.

As part of the Station to Station project, in collaboration with Transport for Wales, the group of students spent three days travelling on the Rhymney Valley and Merthyr train lines, meeting people in the surrounding communities and documenting their activities.

Now in its fourth year, the project aims to tell stories through pictures, offering an insight into contemporary life in the valleys – from street scenes and landscapes to portraits and close ups, textures and details. It is hoped that this year’s images will be included in a digital magazine and an exhibition, held at Transport for Wales headquarters in Pontypridd.

The students were mentored by experienced documentary photographers Janire Najera and Sebastian Bruno, who each took a group to different locations along the train lines and provided guidance on finding interesting subjects to photograph.

Leo De Salis, 21, from Croydon, is a second year Documentary Photography student taking part in the project. He said, “My current work explores religion and belief, so I’ve been focusing on spiritual people, cults, churches, and their different places of worship.

“I love portrait photography. You can tell someone’s story from their portrait. It’s been a great experience travelling on the Rhymney Valley line and meeting so many brilliant people. The communities have been so welcoming and willing to let us in to their lives.”

Leo De Salis

Katy Morton, 20, from Morayshire, Scotland is in her third year and also travelled on the Rhymney Valley line for the project. She said, “I love capturing images of people in their own environment, so this is a fantastic opportunity to add to my portfolio and make connections with people in different places.

“I tend to be drawn to those who care about nature, conservation, sustainability – anything that illustrates regeneration of our communities. I’m looking forward to showcasing some great subjects in this project.”

Katy Morton

Karin Bareman, researcher and lecturer in Documentary Photography at USW, added, “For this year’s Station to Station project, we worked closely with Transport for Wales who have generously supported us through their generous donation of train tickets, which made the project much more accessible for our students to take part. They also provided a live brief for students to work to, which offered them valuable industry experience.

“Staff at the train stations along both railway lines were incredibly helpful, advising students on travel matters as well as posing for some photographs, which helped create a rounded portrait of South Wales valleys communities and the importance of train lines in the region.”