As well as working closely with Dagmara, Snow Q’s fine artist to enhance her work, Wendy has been developing her own photographic responses to the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, the starting point for our project. In her last post Wendy told us how – ingeniously – she would be working with landscapes to create a sense of the snow-bound world we are developing. She is just back from a summer field trip to Wales and tells us more about her own journey:
I am planning to create an ambient, landscape visual/backdrop for the room, we have given the working name of ‘The Snow Palace’ for this Snow Q project.
I wanted to explore and photograph/video a UK landscape that I could transform into the imagined landscape of the Snow Queen story. So after a bit of research wondering where to go, I instinctively decided to take a road trip and venture in to the mountains of Snowdonia for a few days in August.
Wales has a place in my heart and memory, mainly associated with The Island of Anglesey which was our annual family holiday destination during the 70’s and the early 80’s. Even though we went to Wales every year of my childhood, I have no memory of venturing off the island into the more mountainous region of Snowdonia.
So as I drove through central wales for the first time this August, it was a pleasant surprise to be struck by the splendour of the Snowdonia Mountain region. They may be small mountains on a world scale but they are dramatic, rugged, beautiful and perfectly formed. There is also a rich body of folklore that is deeply woven in to the landscape and everywhere you go, the rich Welsh history and mythology added an extra affinity with the backdrop I want to create for our reimagining of the snow queen story. An interesting sideline, whilst I was in Snowdonia, I discovered that there’s a theory Hans Christian Andersen apparently chose the name Kay (Cei in Welsh) for the main boy character of the Snow Queen story after the character of Sir Kay, who was the foster brother of the legendary King Arthur. Apparently Kay at times had a volatile and cruel nature, but was decent at heart and was one of King Arthur’s most faithful companions. Sir Kay is supposed to have been based at Caer Gai, a fort in Snowdonia. This fort, originally a Roman Legionary base, was said to be called the fortress of Kay.
The Welsh weather is legendary for its rain, as was the case for my trip. So to motivate me, I embodied The Snow Queen’s heroine: Gerda. Her tenacity & her stubborn refusal to swerve from her quest and purpose as I embarked up the slippery, craggy mountain with my heavy camera kit to search for the shots I needed drove me forward. I chose Cader Idris, one of Wales most iconic mountains and stands at the southern gate of Snowdonia. After a two hour arduous hike, the weather had improved and I arrived at an otherworldly place. Cader Idris is named after a Welsh giant and according to tradition, the lofty, chair-shaped impression atop of the mountain is the result of Idris creating a colossal seat for himself from which to study the heavens! This is just one of many legendary stories full of characters associated with the shape of The Welsh landscape, teeming with its own strange species of hobgoblins, devils and angels that perfectly resonates with the essence of the Snow Queen story.
My trip to Snowdonia has inspired my ideas to take through to the next stage of this project. I am now excited to explore digitally the footage I captured in the context of the Snow Queen story.