Initial Project Ideas

For a while now, I have been thinking about what I have at my finger tips to explore in a new body of work. With Covid-19 still rife, I have realised there is so much readily available to me at my doorstep. Growing up and living in Monmouth, a border town between Wales and England, I have been thinking further about the concept of ‘borders’ and ‘boundaries’. 

In a physical sense, throughout history Monmouth has been shuffled and dragged between being English and Welsh. Now, we are comfortably recognised to fall into the Welsh side of the border (Britannica, nd). Whilst Covid restrictions are still in place, and I am unable to interact and photograph others, I want to explore this border in the landscape, by walking and photographing exact points where Wales meets England. This could be through rivers, bridges, roads or mountains ect.

Literally just down the road from my home is the Offa’s Dyke Path, historically the path was constructed in the 8th Century, to divide King Offa’s Kingdom from other rival Kingdoms, marking a “threshold between Anglo-Saxons and Celts” (Smith, 2020) - or the “unruly Welsh” (English Heritage, nd). The 177 mile walk starts at the Severn Estuary near Chepstow and ends at Prestatyn in North Wales, the path crosses the current national border between England and Wales over 20 times. The trail was once the national border, but these days the actual border has drifted slightly. I want to explore both of these borders - new and old. I have not done a huge amount of landscape work in the past and this theme is actually really exciting to me to get out and explore my local surroundings. 

I could also explore the elements that makes Monmouth either Welsh or English, we are prominently an English speaking town, but we are taught Welsh in school and all of our road signs are in both English and Welsh. I am interested in aside from physically, what makes us Welsh or English? How many residents class themselves as English or Welsh? Both parties can be very patriotic, therefore creating tension between the two, is this something we see a lot in Monmouth?

In a more metaphorical sense, I am going to explore the other kinds of borders within my community. For example, the borders of class and wealth, which of course you see in almost all communities, however this is highlighted further in Monmouth through the two large private schools and the comprehensive state school right in the middle. There are of course wealthier and poorer areas within the town, but this blend is often juxtaposed when you see a very expensive car parked alongside your more average run down one in the high street. 

Exploring the high street is another aspect I am interested in, is it successful? is it dying? Monmouth has plenty of charity shops and coffee shops, but amongst those how is the local high street thriving? Do we rely on larger chain stores or do the independent shops keep the town alive? 

Currently the pandemic has taken a huge toll on our high streets as lockdowns across the nation has meant many shops and businesses classed as ‘non essential’ have had to close, leaving Monmouth quiet and ghost like. Covid has also had an effect on Monmouth as a border town as more recently Wales and England have had different rules, which makes it difficult for those living on the border to know which to go by. Those living just over the border in the Forest of Dean still come to shop in Monmouth as it is closer for them than travelling to Gloucester or Ross.. how can we class this as wrong or right? In Redbrook, just up the road from Monmouth, the village is “split by the River Wye which follows the border” (Hughes, 2020), from October 2020 pubs on either side of the river had to follow different rules due to being of differing sides of the border, so whilst one could open its doors to customers, the other in plain view could not. Similarly in Chepstow, whilst being a Welsh town, it is the nearest town for many English villages separated only by a bridge. During the madness that 2020 has been, “the border has suddenly taken on a new significance” (Hughes, 2020) and has become a point of conflict for some people and businesses. 

There are many elements to this project idea, all of these questions I have asked myself can take me down many different path ways and who knows where this project may go. Firstly however, to make a start I want to focus on landscapes where the border meets in different places. 

On a dog walk the other day I walked along the River Wye, across an old Iron Bridge looking towards the old viaduct. This made me think about old borders and how this area used to be connected by train to other parts of the country. The viaduct, now unfortunately ruined and falling apart, is a beautiful structure and the views that train passengers had must have been breathtaking. I find it such a shame that it is no longer in use and we no longer have a railway line in Monmouth. The theme of borders in this image is shown through the viaduct, as a physical track that leads people across borders, but as it is rundown and no longer in use it also suggests a boundary that can no longer be crossed. 

  • Britannica. (nd) Monmouthshire. Available at: (Accessed on: 7th February 2021)
  • English Heritage. (nd) History of Offa’s Dyke. Available at: (Accessed: 7th February 2021)
  • Hughes, J. (2020) The Welsh border crossings you might not realise exist - but risk being fined for crossing. Available at: (Accessed: 8th February 2021)
  • Hughes, M. (2020) Life on the border of Wales and England where two different lockdowns are separated by just a few steps. Available at: (Accessed on: 7th February 2021)
  • National Trail. (nd) Offa’s Dyke Path. Available at: (Accessed: 7th February 2021)
  • Smith, O. (2020) Offa’s Dyke: Britain’s unmarked ‘no-man’s land’. Available at: (Accessed: 8th February 2021)
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