Documentary photographer, Roger Tiley, will be exhibiting his LGBTQ project, titled ‘The Gender Journey part 1’ in the small former mining town of Abertillery, in the South Wales Valleys during his fortieth anniversary working in professional photography.
His first magazine feature back in 1978, documenting the small former coal mining village he grew up in, in the South Wales valleys, attracted wide acclaim. Since then, his work has been published and exhibited nationally and internationally. Known for his gritty images of heavy industrial communities, especially coal mining in South Wales, Tiley’s work has always depicted his socialist views and his images clearly depict the support for the subjects he photographs. Detailed photographic essays of coal mining and their close knit communities, has won Roger commissions in coal mining regions in the USA and most recently, he was the last photographer to capture life at the last deep coal mine in the UK, Kellingley Colliery in North Yorkshire. His many visits to UK pits over his career, documenting some twenty three coal faces, had come to an end at Kellingley Colliery, known affectionately as the Big K, when it closed on 18 December 2015.
For this exhibition, Roger has focussed on a subject, he openly admits, is un familiar to him. ‘The idea for this body of work came about when I was invited to photograph the Lesbian & Gays Support the Miners reunion event in 2015, at the Onllwyn Miners’ Welfare Hall, in the Dulais Valley. During the 1984/85 miners’ strike in which I photographed extensively, I failed to photograph the LGBT community travelling from London to donate a large amount of money to striking miners,’ Roger recalls. This story was portrayed in the film ‘Pride’.
Roger’s gritty work has mainly been captured using black and white film throughout his career. This project however, is a change in his approach, using digital format and he felt an interest to illustrate this project in full colour.
Although this project is far from complete, it is an insight into the LGBTQ community in South Wales. Roger states ‘the aim of the photographs are to illustrate individuality and diversity. It has become a trade mark of mine, to support and understand the ideology of the communities I capture. I have total respect for all of my subjects’.
It is a fitting tribute to exhibit this work at the Kickplate Gallery in Abertillery, as it clearly illustrates the change in the understanding and cultural diversity in an area that has faced many changes, especially over the past four decades.
The Gender Journey part 1 runs from the 3-31 March 2018 and a new printed zine will accompany the exhibition.