Book and exhibition at MOMA reflect on beauty of Meirionnydd

Reporter:

Barry Jones

A NEW exhibition entitled “Y Rhinogydd” by Jean Napier has opened in the Ruralist Room of the Museum of Modern Art MOMA Machynlleth, to accompany the publication of her new book.

Jean Napier MA has lived in the Snowdonia National Park since 1991 and has spent years exploring the Rhinogydd mountain area of North Wales photographing and writing about the old drovers’ roads, coaching routes and ruins of gold mines and slate quarries.

This exhibition gives you a taste of what she has discovered in this wild and beautiful land.

The exhibition is on until February 17, and will include a free talk and film showing at MOMA in the Meet the Artist spot at noon on Saturday, January 20.

With stunning photographs and informed text her new little book explores mountains littered with the remains of human habitation that date back centuries giving a taste of the old drovers’ routes, coaching roads, derelict gold mines and ancient tombs that still exist.

Local farmers believe that there are fewer people living and working in this wild upland area now than at any time in human history although the upside to this is that it has given nature the chance to reclaim the land and offer wildlife a place of refuge, Jean notes.

She declares that she has sought in this book to convey her passion for this unique area and give a small taste of what can be discovered here, and she succeeds splendidly.

With Dolgellau, Barmouth, Harlech and Trawsfynydd at its four corners and rising to 750 metres at Diffwys, this rough and heathery mountainous spine of old Meirionnydd contains evidence of human habitation right back to bronze age stone circles. standing stones and sites that bear associations with the legendary King Arthur.

A magnificent stone bridge over the Scethin river dating to the 12th century is one reminder of the routes animals were driven to market across country all the way from Harlech to London going back to Roman occupation times.

Even the Romans knew of the existence of gold in them there hills and at one time there were at least 24 mines operating in the “Dolgellau Gold Belt”, although most of the gold now brought out is reserved for wedding rings and other Royal regalia.

There were other travellers too including stage coaches and the postal service, priests and soldiers, and even early celebrity tourists like Daniel Defoe and the poets Byron and Shelley.

Tales of these, including an infamous Fat Welsh Knight, are all packed into this informative little book with pictures that totally justify the author’s claim that this truly is “a photographer’s paradise”.

Email:

barry.jones@nwn.co.uk

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