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A view of the summit of Snowdon, showing sightseers, buildings, and the cairn at the top of the mountain. Date circa 1865

The third Breaking Boundaries project that we funded in 2022/23 took an innovative approach to the past and present of Yr Wyddfa/ Snowdon. Dr Daniel Bos (Geography and the Environment) and artist Dr Cian Quayle (Photography/Art and Design) collaborated to explore ‘Retracing Footsteps – The Changing Landscape of Yr Wyddfa/Snowdon’. Two BA Photography graduates, Jane Evans and Emma Petruzzelli, also joined the team as they made a series of ascents of Yr Wyddfa/ Snowdon to capture photographic documentation which embodies the experience of contemporary experience of the mountain known locally as  ‘the sacrificial mountain’, and can be climbed from a number of different approaches but we have concentrated on the historic tourist and well-travelled approach from Llanberis from where 19th century visitors would have commenced their ascent of the mountain. The project is based on the way in which those 19c. visitors recorded their experiences in summit hotel visitor’s books held at the National Library of Wales and Bangor University, which have formed the basis for our research. Today the summit hotels have been superseded by the summit visitor centre Hafod Eryri which opened in 2009.


A longer-term project is to curate a collection of photographs, which document and embody the experience of today’s visitors, and the way in which the mountain and the landscape it inhabits is impacted upon by the sheer weight of footfall, which in turn sustains the local economy as well as the issues of sustainability and environmental impact, climate change and tourism, identity and place. The demographic of visitors has been of interest to Bos in his auto-ethnographic approach in observing and recording his and others’ experiences. The photographic encounter has also provided a way of connecting with others where the collective act of photographing on the mountain is so ubiquitous that the photographers are able to photograph those around them with an ease and acceptance, which would elsewhere be more conspicuous. The images reference and will be set against extracts from the 19thc. visitors books in their exhibition and future publication. The first iteration of this project is due to be exhibited in November to coincide with the second half of Chester Contemporary.


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