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Oh, we DON'T like to be by a seaside: Photos of Welsh coastal town LOATHED by the locals are rescued

Photographs of a Welsh coastal town that were so loathed by the locals they were forgotten for 40 years have been rescued for a new exhibition.

The black and white images show dreary landscapes in areas such as Deeside, Ffnnongroyw and Mostyn during the winter and summer.

They capture the mood at holiday camps, on the beaches, restaurants and at the amusements in the small towns and villages that litter North Wales.

The shots were taken by Michael Bennett in 1979 as a photographic journey through the region and were commissioned as part of a piece titled Anatomy of Melancholy.

The plan was for them to be showcased at the newly-refurbished Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno but it was shelved when its director Hugh Adams resigned.

He was replaced by Clive Adams who thought the nature of Mr Bennett's project would cause funding problems by showing the area in too negative a light.

The black and white images show dreary landscapes in areas such as Deeside, Ffnnongroyw and Mostyn during the winter and summer

They capture the mood at holiday camps, on the beaches, restaurants and at the amusements in the small towns and villages that litter North Wales

The shots were taken by Michael Bennett in 1979 as a photographic journey through the region and were commissioned as part of a piece titled Anatomy of Melancholy

The plan was for them to be showcased at the newly-refurbished Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno but it was shelved when its director Hugh Adams resigned

He was replaced by Clive Adams who thought the nature of Mr Bennett's project would cause funding problems by showing the area in too negative a light

The original pictures were taken during the winter, so Clive asked the photographer to return in the summer - when tourists and warm weather would return - but the pictures still showed the region looking dreary.

Clive's solution was to hang amateur photographers' work next to Mr Bennett's to try to distract from the pessimism, as well as rename the piece The Road to Barmouth in 1980.

But the exhibit was panned by local newspapers and was swiftly closed, dismantled and forgotten for 40 years - until now.

Curators of Seaside Photographed Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson created an exhibition in 2019 and first seen in Margate.

They called for submissions from the public and Mr Bennett filed a selection of his images from the project all those years ago. Ten were selected and shown in Ms Williams's and Ms Shepherdson's exhibition.

The original pictures were taken during the winter, so Clive asked the photographer to return in the summer - when tourists and warm weather would return - but the pictures still showed the region looking dreary

Clive's solution was to hang amateur photographers' work next to Mr Bennett's to try to distract from the pessimism, as well as rename the piece The Road to Barmouth in 1980

But the exhibit was panned by local newspapers and was swiftly closed, dismantled and forgotten for 40 years - until now

Curators of Seaside Photographed Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson created an exhibition in 2019 and first seen in Margate

They called for submissions from the public and Mr Bennett filed a selection of his images from the project all those years ago. Ten were selected and shown in Ms Williams's and Ms Shepherdson's exhibition

But the rest of the film negatives from Mr Bennett's portfolio have been digitised, restored and re-mastered for a new book called Pier Closing Time.

The photographer taught himself the trade and has since worked for national organisations such as the Daily Mail, the BBC and the Sunday Times.

Some of his images of prominent Britons - taken for the Independent newspaper - made it into the National Portrait Gallery in London.

Ms Williams and Ms Shepherdson said of the images: 'Michael Bennett's extraordinary Seaside in Summer and Winter (1980) inflects acute visual observations with satirical pessimism.

'This series... was commissioned by Llandudno's Mostyn Gallery, briefing Bennett to document the town in winter for an exhibition in the following year.

The rest of the film negatives from Mr Bennett's portfolio have been digitised, restored and re-mastered for a new book called Pier Closing Times

The photographer taught himself the trade and has since worked for national organisations such as the Daily Mail, the BBC and the Sunday Times

Some of his images of prominent Britons - taken for the Independent newspaper - made it into the National Portrait Gallery in London

Ms Williams and Ms Shepherdson said of the images: 'Michael Bennett's extraordinary Seaside in Summer and Winter (1980) inflects acute visual observations with satirical pessimism'

They continued: 'Partisan locals' bewilderment is understandable. Bennett's work is utterly uncompromising, with one photograph exclaiming in uppercase: ''YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED''- warned of what? 'It reads as a 'scare' sign, alerting us to the dangers of a visit'

'The then progressive gallery director Hugh Adams actively encouraged a melancholic picturing of the North Wales seaside town.

'But at the point of delivery Adams had gone and the passive desperation captured by the photographer was not quite what was anticipated by the incoming director.

'To salvage the gallery's position, Bennett was asked to return and record what was assumed would be a more optimistic summertime view.

This photograph by Mr Bennett showed two men and a woman at what appears to be a bus stop looking unimpressed

Two men stand next to their car at a Weslh resort in one of Mr Bennett's pictures that were taken back in the 1970s

Women and men stand on the beachfront and look at a weather information board as others sit on the coastline and watch the waves

'Contrary to the commissioner's expectations, Llandudno in summer appeared in Bennett's photographs as austere and alienating as in wintertime.

'The submitted work was ill-received, with the new gallery director openly loathing the work and the regional press printing numerous critiques.

'Partisan locals' bewilderment is understandable. Bennett's work is utterly uncompromising, with one photograph exclaiming in uppercase: ''YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED''- warned of what? 'It reads as a 'scare' sign, alerting us to the dangers of a visit.

'Nevertheless, his work foreshadowed the huge decline in visitors in the 1980s, thereby providing a robust visual antidote to any rose-tinted assumptions about the British seaside.'

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