June 29, 2023
I have been working on this project intermittently since 2008 and it explores a way of recording and presenting a community of chalets on the banks of the River Dee between Holt in North Wales and Aldford in Cheshire as an arts project using just a mobile phone camera and the editing possibilities in the phone itself.
These chalets are an expression of the “Ty Unnos”/”Plotlander” movement of the inter-war years whereby If you could build a dwelling on common land and have smoke coming from the chimney by morning you had a right to the freehold of that dwelling. The chalets and the communities they serve lend themselves particularly to a visual (photography and film) and oral arts project. I have lived in this community for 16 years now and have come to recognise how unique, unusual, and relatively unknown this linear community is. Whether it is the physical manifestations of the chalets themselves or the unique lifestyle of their owners, for me they have a visual charisma (whether occupied, used seasonally or neglected) which is backed up by a wealth of fascinating stories that have been handed down through generations.
This is my community! I strongly believe that unique ways of living like this are precious and should be celebrated and to my knowledge this will be the first time this community has been officially documented. This is a community that, at present, is not very well known or understood and therefore showing this community and its history will be an important resource. I believe the project will benefit the wider community within Wrexham/Chester and beyond by bringing the history, lives’ and stories of the chalet community to wider attention.
By Lesley Martin