Thanks to Juxtapoz for this:
The small industrial town of Port Talbot sits just off the M4 motorway in South Wales.
The steelworks, once a roaring industry, dominate the rolling landscape. Those passing through used to stop and provide trade to the area but the advent of the motorway in the 1960s allowed them to bypass the town completely.
Photographer Roo Lewis’s grandfather, a proud Welshman, grew up in Pembrokeshire and so as a child Lewis would often pass by Port Talbot—nose pressed against the window staring at the space station-like structures of Blast Furnace 4 and 5 of the steelworks.
Port Talbot been labeled one of the most polluted in the UK and yet is nestled in and around areas of outstanding natural beauty. Richard Burton, Antony Hopkins and Michael Sheen all hail from Port Talbot along with music legends, scientists and sports professionals. Lewis wanted to discover what it was about this small town that produced so many icons and why aliens wanted to visit it so often.
Over a period of two years Roo Lewis photographed Port Talbot, which has an ‘extremely high number of UFO sightings’. However, the resulting book Port Talbot UFO Investigation Club is not a study of UFO sightings but instead uses the phenomena as a starting point to explore the people, landscape and folklore of the town.
‘Ufology becomes a faith in itself—a belief system we carve in the absence of knowing, or ability to ever really know, we tap into the innate fascination with mystery. The jump we make from truth to belief, is faith. This coupled with our limited capacity for truth makes a captivating subject—a hotbed of storytelling never to be ruined with facts.’
During the course of his project, Lewis put up posters around the town to track down those who have spotted UFOs, chartered a small plane to fly over the town, commissioned UFO models based on sightings and was a guest of many of the town’s residents. The photographs in the book range from portraits of Meyrick Sheen (father to Michael, who had a career as a Jack Nicholson lookalike), Captain Beany, and Miss Wales, to images of the town’s urban infrastructure and surrounding landscapes interrupted by man-made structures.
Roo is an award winning photographer based in North London. His studio is in Hackney.
Buy the book: Port Talbot UFO Investigation Club by Roo Lewis
Roo Lewis homepage