United Kingdom

James Morris



James Morris (b. 1963) is a British photographer whose work focuses principally on landscape and the built environment. Known earlier in his career primarily as an architectural photographer, over the last decade he has looked more broadly at landscape issues from urbanism to human conflict. His work documents the impact of man’s intervention in the landscape and the layers of history evident there. In 2003 he published Butabu (Princeton Architectural Press), which records the threatened and vulnerable landscape of West African vernacular architecture. Seven years after returning to live in the country of his birth he published A Landscape of Wales (Dewi Lewis Publishing 2010) which has been described as both a love letter and deeply melancholy. His recent work includes an exploration of cause and consequence in the Israeli/Palestine conflict, and a documentation of the Halley VI research station in Antartica. His practice incorporates both personal and commissioned work – additionally over numerous years he has illustrated many books and magazine features on historical and contemporary architecture.



Barry was developed in the late nineteenth century as a coal port to rival that of Cardiff. By 1913 it was handling 13 millions tons of coal annually and was the largest such port in the world. With the demise of the coal industry and collapse of South Wales’s economic fortunes, by the early 21st century the now post-industrial landscape told a different story. During late winter 2009, as part of a regeneration programme, three artists were commissioned to produce bodies of work that reflected on that landscape for permanent exhibition in the town.


A Landscape of Wales

At various times Wales has been the worlds largest exporter of copper, iron, slate and coal. As the raw materials were extracted from the ground, much of its wealth was taken from the country. What remains is a post industrial landscape that often appears a shadow of its more heroic past, the scars of the extraction still evident within the land. More economically and politically subordinate than the other Celtic nations, Wales can be seen as England’s first and last colony; struggling with both its economic base and its sense of identity. Tesco and tourism are the big employers now, low paid and insecure. The work explores the contrasting realities of the tourist landscape and that experienced by most inhabitants, as the images move between tourist hot spots and the terraces and back streets where the majority of people live. The latter are often hard bitten places that have lost their raison d’etre. By contrast the tourist landscape is one of pleasure seeking and escape, the Wales that visitors are sold and want to see.