Interview with PhD photography student Eve Ruet

Eve Ruet [follow eve on twitter]is studying for a PhD in Photography at Cardiff University and she got in touch recently to ask if I would mind being interviewed for her work. She'd seen my 'Welsh From Everywhere / Cymry o Bob Man' work at last year's Diffusion Wales International Festival of Photography, and my other portraiture of the people of Newport and Wales.

We chatted all afternoon about my work - which was great for me as I can happily talk for hours. It also provided me with the space and a reason to reassess what I was doing, and why I was doing it. Most of the discussion focussed on Welsh Identity - which is at the heart of my portraiture work.

Welsh Identity in the 21st Century

I grew up in a little mining village in the Rhymney Valley - in a white Welsh monoculture, before moving to Newport, then London, then back to Newport. The Welsh cultural Identity in the heads of my London friends was something along the line of "Coal miners, daffodils, rugby, dragons and sheep shagging" - a cartoon, stereotype vision of Welshness. The aim of my photographic work is to investigate a new Welsh identity - a multicultural, 21st century identity, which could best be described as a community of cultural identities. The Welsh identity is in constant flux, but over the last 10 years or so there seems to be a new confidence among the Welsh to own their Welshness. Photography is my way of adding to the conversation, by showing that 'Welsh' means much more than it did when I was younger. 

A couple of generations of kids have now all learned at least enough Welsh to say Bore Da, Shwmae or Popty Ping (and hopefuly much more), and as a result feel a closer bond to their Welsh heritage - and this is born out by the fact that a recent study showed that 'Welsh' was now the dominant self-identifier in the country, whereas a decade ago it was second to 'Welsh British'.

Sport seems to be a massive driving factor in the new pride in Welshness - the Welsh Football Association now routinely uses the word 'Cymru' in its English language marketing, and they have made it clear that after the WorldCup in Qatar this year they will change the team name from Wales to Cymru. 

Bring it on. Yma o hyd!