United Kingdom

Zillah Bowes



Zillah Bowes is a Welsh/English filmmaker, photographer and poet. She trained in cinematography at the UK’s National Film and Television School and in poetry at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her recent work explores the role of landscape and its relationship to the individual.

She has spent 2018-2020 in the Elan Valley in Mid Wales researching several projects. These include her short fiction film "Staying (Aros Mae)" with Ken Loach’s company Sixteen Films, supported by Ffilm Cymru Wales, the British Film Institute and BBC; and a solo exhibition of photographs "Green Dark", supported by Ffotogallery and the Arts Council of Wales. A selection from "Green Dark" can be currently seen in the National Assembly of Wales’ and Ffotogallery’s "Many Voices, One Nation" touring exhibition.

Zillah has directed documentaries and music videos and collaborated regularly with Turner prize-winning artist and musician Martin Creed. Her debut "Small Protests" was nominated for a Grierson Award and SHORT: DOX Award and won the Current Short Cuts Award and Best Short Documentary at the London Independent Film Festival. As a cinematographer, her previous films include "Enemies of Happiness", which won the World Cinema Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival.

As a poet, Zillah won the Wordsworth Trust Prize in 2017 and Poems on the Buses in 2018. She was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize in 2018, judged by former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy; the Alpine Fellowship in 2018 and the Wasafiri New Writing Prize in 2016. She won a Creative Wales Award from the Arts Council of Wales in 2017 and a New Writer’s Award from Literature Wales in 2015.


Green Dark

Green Dark is a photographic study of the people and the land in a hill farming community in Radnorshire, Mid Wales. The tenant farmers of the Elan Estate in the Elan and Claerwen Valleys keep sheep on the open hill, which they gather with their neighbours, often still on horseback, forming a close community and passing down a traditional way of life.

Brexit, and economic and environmental concerns including climate crisis, are creating uncertainty for the future upland farmer in Wales. The members of this community just starting their lives as farmers face the greatest challenge in generations to maintain continuity. Significantly, there are several young women in the new generation. Green Dark explores this liminality, placing people in the land where they are the current and historic custodians, and capturing the land and its life without them.

This project contains two distinct approaches: moonlight and daylight. The moonlight work offers an intimate portrait both of the individual and the land. The daylight work offers a wider portrait of the relationship between them both, whilst also evoking a timelessness. Although aesthetically very different, the two approaches capture the edge of something. Together, they encourage the viewer to see timelessness as an illusion, bringing us into the present of the people depicted.