John Manley

Portrait of John Manley

I was given the opportunity to take early retirement from a long career in Local Government in 2013. Primarily working as an enforcement officer within Environmental Health, I had the pleasure and on occasions, the displeasure of meeting a diverse range of people, which I found quite stimulating. Having held a lifelong interest in culture, art and photography, I took the plunge and enrolled on the BA (Hons) Photography degree at Coleg Sir Gar in 2017. Under the excellent tutelage of Iain Davies and Huw Alden Davies, the course provided me with an incredible opportunity to increase my technical, creative and visual language to a new level. I have often told others that the degree has opened a ‘pandora’s box’ of creative thinking and understanding. I was fortunate to graduate with a first-class honours degree in 2020 and I am the recipient of two awards from the college; the Anita Bowyer award and the annual Photo-book Award.

Photography has enabled me to interact with people and places that I would otherwise not have engaged with. The choice of subject matter comes from a mixture of intuition, research and a desire to document stories that unfold around me; looking for the light between the shadows, the stories that are not at first obvious.

Education and enlightenment have now become a drug, so with the desire to be inspired I have now commenced an MA at University of Wales Trinity St David (Swansea). Previous recent projects include an exploration of the livestock auction, Transgender, Protest, Westray and Veterans. My work has previously been displayed at King Street Gallery, Carmarthen, Northern Photo Festival, Harrogate, Basement Collective, Swansea, and Oriel Bevan Jones Gallery, Carmarthen.



Have You Forgotten Yet?

The first duty of Government is the defence of the realm. The Armed Forces fulfil that responsibility on behalf of the Government, sacrificing some civilian freedoms, facing danger and sometimes, suffering serious injury or death as a result of their duty. In return, the whole nation has a moral obligation to support and respect the members of the Armed Forces. These servicemen who, in a physical sense, have survived the rigours of military service, in some cases cease to be the focus of our collective attention. There is an apparent disconnect between society and service veterans. Therefore, it is important that we are aware of the skill and tenacity of these people and generate in the public consciousness an admiration for the service and sacrifice that was an accepted part of their military life.

For the most part these veterans, like their predecessors, are ordinary people, though many have experienced and done extraordinary things. Have you forgotten yet? is a series of portraits of people who took part in past conflicts. One veteran portrayed here took part in the Second World War, another two, the forgotten Malayan Emergency. One is a veteran of The Troubles in Northern Ireland and another, a young man who wanted to see the world. Every single person who has participated in the Armed Forces, whether a soldier, sailor or airman, took part in shaping the image of the world as it is seen and perceived today.

This project attempts to document each life from a historical and individual standpoint, exploring the relationship between the past and the present. The portraits reflect this relationship between a generational narrative, a unique life story through individual private worlds, objects and spaces.

This is an assemblage, a mosaic of people who at one moment were all engaged in military service and are now living in the Carmarthenshire community amongst us unseen. The veterans maintain a strong but diminishing bond - this is their story. It has been a pleasure to meet and listen.