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Submit Response is a weblog by Jack Mottram, a journalist who lives in Glasgow, Scotland. There are 1308 posts in the archives. You can subscribe to a feed. This post was made on and belongs in the places category. The previous post was , and the next post is .

Parallel Wales

I keep bumping into Simon Proffitt of the Fourier Transform label at the moment (in a web sense, that is).

Parallel Wales - Simon’s visual survey of US locations with Welsh place names - is really rather wonderful:

Place names transcend their status as identifiers of geographical location; they become inextricably associated with hundreds of years of history, of cultural references, stereotypes, childhood memories, news items, myths, commercial products, weather systems.

After the Welsh Quakers left their homeland towards the end of the 17th century in search of religious and economic freedom, the new settlements founded in the Americas were often named after the settlers’ point of origin. It was one familiar link in an otherwise strange new world, fostering a sense of community among the displaced. This practice continued into the 20th century, when Welsh miners crossed the Atlantic to develop the rich Pennsylvania coalfields.

Parallel Wales is the result of two weeks spent in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware in October 2005, visiting locations with Welsh namesakes. Many have, in the time since they were settled, become distinctly un-Welsh. Others have been abandoned altogether, simply becoming areas of wasteland. I’m fascinated by visual incongruities. The images, although they may be familiar to us from TV and cinema, conflict with our normal associations of the place names. A re-evaluation must take place - a certain image is of Llangollen, or Brynmawr, but not the Llangollen or Brynmawr that we know. These are parallel places, places that we might normally have no particular feelings for, but become surreally linked with our personal world; we derive a sense of kinship through a shared label.

Posted at 4pm on 21/11/05 by Jack Mottram to the places category.
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  1. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. My in-laws are Welsh, they’ll enjoy this one.

    Posted by Rob at 8pm on 21.11.05

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