Since the Great Little Tin Sheds of Wales was first exhibited in 1984, it has continued to arouse much interest. Loved by many but loathed by some, especially in the Welsh language ‘cultural’ establishment who vilified it as being insulting the Welsh landscape.
Happily, nearly 40 years later, many people still like to tell Pete Davis of a shed they have spotted which indicates that this work helped to make some individuals a little more aware of their environment.
He was born in Cardiff in 1947 and educated at Splott Secondary Modern School. He began taking photographs aged 11 and began working aged just 15 at Cardiff University as a photography technician. He then spent 10 years working as an advertising and fashion photographer in Cardiff.
In 1977 he moved to Alltyblaca from where he has embarked on numerous field trips around the British Isles, Europe and the USA undertaking his photographic projects.
“Moving to rural Wales in 1977 from a city environment, my first photographs moved away from the urban documentary work that had preoccupied me for a number of years and tended not to include any obvious signs of human inhabitation,” Dr Davis said.
“I became fascinated by the ubiquitous tin structures across the landscape that I became conscious of as I travelled around Wales. They seemed to symbolise the utilitarian relationship the indigenous population had with their environment. The use, and in many examples, re-use, of a cheap, easy to build material for a vast variety of structures reflected the history and way of life for many.
“The uses to which these structures are put range from the agricultural to the domestic and the sacred. They represent, in some cases, generations of existence and interaction with the landscape.”
His work can be seen in many important national and international art collections. These include the Arts Council of Wales, Museo Genna Maria, Sardinia, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the National Library of Wales.
He has twice represented Wales at the Festival Interceltique in Brittany, France and is a past winner of the Wakelin Award for Welsh artists
For 18 years Pete was senior lecturer in documentary photography at the University of Wales, Newport and for nine years the course leader.
He completed both an MA and PhD at Aberystwyth University and continues to teach at a number of universities including Aberystwyth University School of Art and is working on a number of ongoing major projects, books and exhibitions.