Tom Johnson & Charlotte James: Merthyr Rising

28 January 2016

We’re pleased to feature this series of photographs by photographer Tom Johnson about Merthyr Tydfil. The exhibition aims to challenge common misconceptions about the area by putting a spotlight on Merthyr’s strong community and vibrant characters. These photographs were featured in the Guardian – it’s so nice to see positive press from Merthyr – we love it.

Shot in collaboration with stylist and Merthyr native Charlotte James, the exhibition is the result of multiple trips to Merthyr during the summer of 2015.

The pair sourced subjects via social networks, street castings and James’ friends and family, styling them in fashion pieces and photographing them in situ, anywhere from bus stations to the local Labour Club. Blending a love for documentary and fashion, pieces were selected to complement and emphasise the subjects’ character.

Brandon, Age 14, Student, Bessemer Hotel. Wearing top by Agi and Sam and shirt by Vivienne Westwood.
Brandon, Age 14, Student, Bessemer Hotel. Wearing top by Agi and Sam and shirt by Vivienne Westwood.
Iris, Age 72, Retired, Bus and Coach Station. Wearing sunglasses by Moschino.
Iris, Age 72, Retired, Bus and Coach Station. Wearing sunglasses by Moschino.
Kyra, Age 8, Twynyrrodyn. Wearing Agi and Sam.
Kyra, Age 8, Twynyrrodyn. Wearing Agi and Sam.
Margaret, Age 78, Retired Nurse, Fairview Terrace. Wearing Giles Deacon.
Margaret, Age 78, Retired Nurse, Fairview Terrace. Wearing Giles Deacon.
Glyn, Age 83, Entertainment Secretary The Labour Club. All clothes by Glyn.
Glyn, Age 83, Entertainment Secretary The Labour Club. All clothes by Glyn.
Terry, 58, and Lee, 68, at the bus station. Ex-coal miner and construction worker, wearing Antipodium & McQ Alexander McQueen.
Terry, 58, and Lee, 68, at the bus station. Ex-coal miner and construction worker, wearing Antipodium & McQ Alexander McQueen.
Natalie, Age 22, Shop Assistant, Town Centre. Wearing Vivienne Westwood Red label.
Natalie, Age 22, Shop Assistant, Town Centre. Wearing Vivienne Westwood Red label.
Lynette, Age 38, Occupation Unknown, The Whydham Arms. Wearing jacket by Fyodor Golan.
Lynette, Age 38, Occupation Unknown, The Whydham Arms. Wearing jacket by Fyodor Golan.
Daniel, Age 16, Student, Cefn Coed. Wearing Vivienne Westwood.
Daniel, Age 16, Student, Cefn Coed. Wearing Vivienne Westwood.
Thomas and James, Age 6, Retail Park. Wearing jackets by Adidas.
Thomas and James, Age 6, Retail Park. Wearing jackets by Adidas.
Kyra and Evie, Age 6 and 7, Twyn yr rodyn. Wearing Agi and Sam.
Kyra and Evie, Age 6 and 7, Twyn yr rodyn. Wearing Agi and Sam.
Cameron, Age 13, High Street. Wearing t-shirt by McQ Alexander McQ.
Cameron, Age 13, High Street. Wearing t-shirt by McQ Alexander McQ.
Malcolm, Age 54, Painter and Decorator, Glebeland Street. Wearing jumper by Matthew Miller.
Malcolm, Age 54, Painter and Decorator, Glebeland Street. Wearing jumper by Matthew Miller.
Julie, Age 51, Learning coach, Glebeland Street. Wearing Christopher Shannon.
Julie, Age 51, Learning coach, Glebeland Street. Wearing Christopher Shannon.
Phyllis, Age 92, Retired Dinner Lady, Swansea Road. Wearing Pleats Please Issey Miyake.
Phyllis, Age 92, Retired Dinner Lady, Swansea Road. Wearing Pleats Please Issey Miyake.
Jake, Age 16, Boxer, Newmarket Walk. Wearing top by Matthew Miller.
Jake, Age 16, Boxer, Newmarket Walk. Wearing top by Matthew Miller.
Oceah, Age 5, Gurnos Estate. Wearing t-shirt by McQ Alexander McQ Wearing jacket by Rebekah Minko.
Oceah, Age 5, Gurnos Estate. Wearing t-shirt by McQ Alexander McQ Wearing jacket by Rebekah Minko.
Ellie, Age 13, Gurnos. Wearing jumper by Martine Rose.
Ellie, Age 13, Gurnos. Wearing jumper by Martine Rose.
Steve, Age 82, Retired, The Whydham Arms. Wearing tie by Penrose.
Steve, Age 82, Retired, The Whydham Arms. Wearing tie by Penrose.
Lewis, Age 16, Cafe worker, Bessemer Hotel. Wearing Christopher Kane.
Lewis, Age 16, Cafe worker, Bessemer Hotel. Wearing Christopher Kane.
Donna, Age 40, Occupation Unknown, The Labour Club. Jacket by Moschino and skirt by Dries Van Noten from Nothing Special.
Donna, Age 40, Occupation Unknown, The Labour Club. Jacket by Moschino and skirt by Dries Van Noten from Nothing Special.
Pontsticill Reservoir
Pontsticill Reservoir
Cefn Coed Mountain.
Cefn Coed Mountain.

The exhibition features twenty large scale images and an accompanying publication.

Tom Johnson lives and works in London. His work has been featured in An0ther, DAZED, Its Nice That, VICE, Hunger agazine & The World Photography Organisation. He was the subject of a documentary made by VICE for their series ‘Picture Perfect’ and has been shortlisted for the D&AD Next Photographer Award.

Charlotte James is a London-based fashion stylist, she is the fashion editor at large at Crack Magazine and has worked with titles such as i-D Online and Wonderland, and artists including Big Sean and Little Dragon.

For additional information and images email studio@tom-johnson.co.uk.