A new photography exhibition set to open in Cardiff later this month shows some of Wales' starkest landscapes, which are far from the idyllic, almost clichéd images used to sell the country to potential tourists.

Photographer James Morris was born in Griffithstown in south Wales and moved away from the country in his youth, but holidayed in typical Welsh tourist spots such as Pembrokeshire. This exhibition shows the contrasting realities of the Welsh landscape: that seen by the many visitors to the country and that experienced by most inhabitants.

Morris moves between tourist hot spots and the terraces and back streets where the majority of people live - often the less beautiful, post-industrial areas that sightseers typically don't see.

Blaenau Ffestiniog by James Morris. Photo © the artist

Llandudno by James Morris. Photo © the artist

Morris commented: "What I was interested in was capturing the built environment, not just the picturesque countryside but the buildings and architecture... Having been brought up in a Welsh family that didn't live in Wales, we would always just go to the more idyllic places such as the Pembrokeshire coast and Snowdonia; we went to the kind of places where the tourist board would want you to go.

"But what really intrigued me and captured my imagination when I came back to live in Wales was what the tourist board wouldn't necessarily want you to see.

"I was drawn to the post-industrial places, to the towns and cities which showed the real Wales - they were very different to what outside people expect and I liked that.

"I travelled quite a bit visiting these places which were once the greatest exporters of things like coal and steel - often there was still a visible legacy there and I wanted to reflect on their historical importance."

Dinorwic Slate Quarry (disused), Gwynedd. Photo © James Morris

James Morris: A Landscape of Wales, a project in partnership with the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, runs at both Ffotogallery at Turner House, Penarth and the Futures Gallery, The Pierhead in Cardiff Bay from 13 January until 26 February 2011.

For more information visit www.pierhead.org and www.ffotogallery.org.

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