What is it about buildings that have been abandoned and taken over by the elements that fascinate us?

Remains, a new exhibition at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis, explores our fascination with how nature has taken over the old slate quarries of north Wales.

The exhibition features dramatic photography by Annie Williams and Ian Warwick from Bangor, who studied together at the Open College of the Arts in 2009.

The Ynys y Pandy Slate Mill. Photograph by Annie Williams

I caught up with Annie and Ian to find out how the five-year project evolved. "We identified a number of derelict sites and started to explore how nature has taken over landscapes that were once such a central feature of industry and culture in the area."

I asked Annie why she thinks people are intrigued by these sites. "People are drawn to the mystery of these abandoned places. They can be eerie and hold within them the memory of the people who had been part of them in the past,” she explains.

Bryn Hafod y Wern by Ian Warwick

"You have to use your imagination to piece together the history of the place and what it meant to the people who lived or worked there.

"In our work, we want to express our respect and admiration for the struggle and sacrifice of the workers who worked so hard in these harsh conditions in the quarries."

Pen yr Orsedd quarry shed by Annie Williams

Photographing some of the remote sites pose risks, such as the Pen yr Orsedd quarry shed in the Nantlle Valley, shown here. Annie explains: "Going into these abandoned buildings can be a bit dangerous and in this shed the slate tiles on the roof look precarious but they create great patterns and it's difficult to resist taking risks to get a good shot!"

Dali's Hole at Dinorwig Slate Quarry by Ian Warwick

This site is 'Sinc Harriet' or Dali's Hole in the Dinorwig slate quarries. "The dead trees and the blast hut add to the weirdness. It is a strange environment and when the water level is low, the tree stumps emerge out of the ground giving the place an otherworldly feel," explains Ian.

Dinorwic by Annie Williams

"After some encouragement and persuasion, I went into this tunnel with a friend of mine who is a very experienced climber. I felt very brave and the effort was well worth it for the view at the end," explains Annie.

Pen y Ffridd Tree by Ian Warwick

The Pen y Ffridd slate mine site is very overgrown, having been abandoned in 1913, and a lot of the trees are covered in moss. Ian describes the scene as "eerie but beautiful".

Dorothea Wall (detail) by Ian Warwick

On the site of the old Dorothea slate quarry in the Nantlle Valley, a trace of the wall can be seen here and there if you look hard enough - the rest is covered in thick vegetation. Ian describes it as a "magical place, easily missed."

Remains is on display at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis until 29 June 2014.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by Leigh BBC

    on 25 Jun 2014 11:02

    Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you like the photos. I agree - they are fascinating and beautiful. The exhibition is open at the National Slate Museum in Llanberis until Sunday if you want to see them in person :-)

  • Comment number 1. Posted by etarlis

    on 25 Jun 2014 09:27

    I've been visiting disused slate quarries in North Wales since the mid 70s - they are incredibly evocative places and beautiful in their own way. These terrific photographs capture something of the atmosphere of these remains - never an easy thing to do. A fascinating and timely exhibition as a number of the old quarry sites are being lost.

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