A few years ago, James, who was born and raised in Merthyr Tydfil (a town where a majority of the photographs were taken), and Schneidermann, originally from France but living in Wales, decided to run some creative workshops in youth centers. The young participants were taught elements of fashion styling, design, and tailoring, and were encouraged to experiment with garments either purchased from charity shops or that they had sewn together themselves. The photographic project blossomed from there: the self-styled children would pose in locations around where they live, with James and Schneidermann improvising along the way. Yet whilst organic in their development, the images display a skilled consideration for color and composition, and highlight the precious relationship of trust between artist and subject. “The photographs show that while the Valleys wear the marks of time, they’re no match for the elixir and hope of a new generation—the project is a celebration of this,” James and Schneidermann said in a statement released by the Martin Parr Foundation. The series speaks to the innocent joys of childhood, and is as much an exploration of cultural and fashion stereotypes as it is a depiction of portraiture, performance art, and landscapes. ‘It’s Called Ffasiwn’ is on view until May 25, 2019, at the Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol.
"while the Valleys wear the marks of time, they’re no match for the elixir and hope of a new generation"