It is said that a Welsh Prince, Madog, sailed to America in 1170, over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus. There is no evidence for this folklore tale, but in the Mohawk Valley of Central New York, there is a community of people descended from Welsh immigrants.
They settled in Remsen, a small town in Oneida County, and the surrounding area from the early 1800s onwards, driven to leave North Wales due to poverty, lack of work–in spite of the booming industrial revolution–and suppression of the Welsh heritage and language.
‘The Singing Hills’ - a personal project by photographer Ed Brydon who was born in Chester and brought up in Menai Bridge on Anglesey - draws references from Welsh myths and legends, including the tale of Madog as well as The Mabinogion. It draws a visual line of connection between the people, land, and life of Remsen and North Wales, their similarities and differences and the relationship of these proud people of Welsh heritage to their home in America and the land of their ancestral home in North Wales.
Ed continues photographing the people, land, and village life in Remsen and the surrounding area whilst doing the same in North Wales, and where possible photographing confirmed relatives of people he has photographed in Remsen.
Ffoton grabbed a lunchtime opportunity to speak to Ed whilst he was back in Wales for the recent inaugural Northern Eye International Photography Festival in Colwyn Bay. A selection of Ed's ‘The Singing Hills’ images were shown as one of several exhibitions at the Festival.
Ed currently lives in Bedford Hills, in Westchester County, New York, with his wife and two sons. When they moved from Brooklyn they chose Westchester in particular because of the similarity of the landscape to North Wales. It felt like home.