Ron McCormick

Portrait of Ron McCormick

The South Wales Valleys as we now know them are the result of the most extraordinary industrialisation process. An industrialisation which brought with it profound changes to the landscape as the encroaching sprawl of the rapidly developing iron and coal industries took over the land.

It was John Ruskin who, warning of the impending industrial juggernaut in his writings, was convinced that industrialisation would not only damage the environment but would eventually obliterate the very memory of the world it was setting out to serve. It seems that in the century that has passed since Ruskin first sounded his warning, the South Wales Valleys, perhaps more than any other place in Britain, came to represent the worst excesses of industrial and environmental blight. It was to take the disaster at Aberfan and the decline of the coal industry generally to focus attention on the environmental problems of the region. The latter part of the 20th Century has seen the topography of the area alter dramatically as tips and mines have disappeared and spoil heaps have been levelled to neutralise their danger and lessen the impact on the eye. Ron McCormick’s elegant but brutally honest pictures encapsulate this metamorphosis with precision and aplomb.


Ron McCormick - The Valleys Project, 1985