I arranged to conduct my inaugural Flâneur in Narberth, Pembrokeshire by contacting the Mayor, Elizabeth Rogers to gain her support for my project. The term Flâneur describes a ‘stroller’ of 19th century France, an ‘urban explorer’ or ‘connoisseur of the street’; applied to a photographer it’s similar to a street photographer who has no particular purpose or objective and spends several hours exploring and recording the sights and events of a town or city. I spent five enjoyable hours recording the sights and events of Narberth that interested or amused me and meeting the friendly townsfolk.
I selected Narberth because I find the town very energetic and creative, the shops and galleries are always very inspirational and welcoming. I like to visit the town three or four times a year to soak up the atmosphere as I know I’ll always come away reinvigorated and inspired.
I started my day with an alfresco coffee and observed the comings and goings of the residents and shoppers.
The sign on shop doors and galleries is ‘OPEN’ and that describes Narberth accurately, the town is always very open, friendly and welcoming. For example, I wandered along a side street off the town centre when I noticed a part-open garage door revealing a vintage vehicle, I cautiously stepped inside and enquired of the female occupant if I could be “nosey” and have a look at her car, “of course” she said, “come in and have a look”. I was invited to photograph her car and workshop whilst she told me all about the car’s history and future expeditions.
I selected the last week of July for my Narberth Flâneur because it’s their Civic Week, in the anticipation that there would be heightened activity and special events to record, and I wasn’t disappointed.
On my visits to Narberth it’s crucial that I check-out what’s currently on show at the wonderful Queens Hall Gallery. On this visit I met Lynne, the curator, she explained the history of the gallery and the exciting line-up of forthcoming events. We had an interesting chat about the gallery, art and artists.
A good thing about aimlessly wandering about is that you never know what you might find; tucked behind a supermarket I discovered a delightful old warehouse called the Old Hat Bazaar, which was selling an eclectic array of vintage household goods and memorabilia. Elsewhere I stumbled across the Narberth Museum in an old bonded warehouse in Church Street. What attracted me was that a large portion of the building was open to the street by means of sliding-folding doors, the opening was no-doubt an intrinsic part of the original bonded warehouse access. I was able to engage with the museum curator and learn about the building’s history via this portal.
The lovely people at the Old Hat Bazaar recommended that I seek-out the quilting exhibiting in a church just-off the High Street in the Bethesda Chapel. I was greeted by an amazing collection of beautiful handmade quilts presented by the Landsker Quilters, there must have been 300 quilts there. The Chapel building is a wonderful architectural exemplar with an amazing wrap-around first-floor gallery. Every available surface was bedecked with brightly coloured quilts draped over the backs of every pew throughout the chapel and around the gallery. I was enthralled with the skill and artistry of the work and quickly text my friend Jo with a photo to inform her of the exhibition.
All day car parking is just £1.30, but remember; if you need to pee it’s going to cost you 20p.
I’ll be returning to Narberth soon without my camera to purposely take the time to revisit the town’s attractions at my leisure.
The full set of 80 images from my Flâneur is available on my Flickr account.