Thursday, 8 October 2015


The first British showing of the global Classroom Portraits series opens tomorrow evening at Towner Gallery, Eastbourne. For opening times and information please see here.

The show features some 60 framed pieces while smaller scale work and research material is displayed in vitrines. Also included are a series of Classroom Portrait videos as well as newly commissioned video portraits of individual pupils.

I will be giving an illustrated talk about this and other projects on Saturday 10th at 2 pm

Friday, 2 October 2015


Sugar Factory Road, St Kitts, 2015. © Julian Germain
Customs House, Bute Street, Cardiff.
October 1- 31. Open Tues - Sat 11-5

In 2014 Julian Germain was commissioned to respond to the life story of Nathaniel Wells (1779 - 1852) who was born into slavery on the island of St Kitts in the Caribbean, the illegitimate child of a slave woman and sugar plantation owner. Extraordinarily, at the age of 9, Nathaniel was sent to Britain to be educated and he subsequently inherited his father’s fortune, along with the sugar plantations and slaves, including his own mother. In 1802, at the age of only 23 and a ‘black’ man of African descent, he purchased one of the finest houses in Wales, Piercefield House near Chepstow. From there, he lived the life of a country gentleman and became a magistrate, deputy lieutenant and County Sheriff.

Germain has retraced the steps of Nathaniel Wells from his now derelict estate at Piercefield to his birthplace in the West Indies. The images reflect upon the sugar industry, slavery and colonialism - the ongoing significance of the deep historical links between the two locations, as well as how the social and economic landscape continues to necessitate migration and how this movement of people affects everyday life in Wales.

The exhibition is sited in the near derelict Custom's House in the Cardiff Bay / port area of the city. In the 1950's and 60's, new immigrants from the West Indies would disembark from their passenger ship and be directed to the building for registration.

Hidden Presence is part of DIFFUSION, the
Cardiff International Festival of Photography 

Sugar Factory Road, St Kitts, 2015. © Julian Germain
Remains of the Vambelles Sugar Estate, St Kitts, 2015. © Julian Germain
Brilliant Car Wash, Cwmbran, 2015. © Julian Germain

Hidden Presence, Custom's House, Cardiff, 2015. © Julian Germain
Piercefield House, Chepstow, 2015. © Julian Germain