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Exhibited at MOMA, Wales
23 March-11 May, 2024



"It was only when I spent some time back in the Rhondda during 2018 as I was going through a profound transformation in my personal life that the necessity and belief in the book was truly realised. For that I owe everything to my wife, the Mexican artist Chantal Meza, who visiting the United Kingdom for the first time during those spring months, forced me to properly confront the blackness that was locked deep inside. Having her presence visibly felt throughout the books pages with the inclusion of her artwork doesn’t however do enough justice to the way in which every sentence speaks to how she allowed me to confront the shame I was feeling of growing up in poverty. She saw the valleys for what it was as beautifully captured in her artwork “My Black Valley”, featuring on the cover. Yes, it is a place. But it is also a contradiction. It is a black ecology of the mind raising so many complex and deeply felt emotions. Or, as the artwork on the cover questions: What exactly is my black valley? Is it a doorway or a place we look down upon? Is it an opening in the earth or is it something that is closing in upon us? Does it live in the distance, or does it exist within us? Is it a cut into the land or is it a tear in the fabric of time itself? Is it an empty abyss into which all existence is eventually thrown? Or is it a beckoning void of possibility? Is it a deep psychological wounding? Or is it something that just might reveal in the incommensurable darkness traces of the ancestral or poetic spirit? Once I was committed to this project, I knew I wanted to write a people’s history of the South Wales valleys. But I didn’t want it to be a typical history book, following roteformats that so often take away both the passion and the lived trauma of a place. That is why for me the inclusion of art instead of photographs and maps was an important intellectual choice. I wanted to evoke a human history of the valleys, which stirred that untameable vortex within".

Brad Evans

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"While living thousands of miles away from my hometown in Mexico, I felt a strange kind of affinity, which I couldn't really put into words. The peoples of the valleys are similar in so many ways to the peoples of Mexico. They know hardship. They know suffering. They know the weight of history. And they share a deep relationship with tragedy. But they also know the importance of dignity. So like I often feel when I am in Mexico, those communities in the mountains brought me closer to the tensions within art that reveal to us the darkness people endure, but also the passionate fire within. I have tried to do justice to this with the series, which I hope speaks to something the valleys touched within me”. 


Chantal Meza

Gallery of Works

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