'Shape Shifters and Sheep Shaggers' was the title I gave to an article I'd been asked to write on the occasion of this artist's Ffotogallery touring exhibition Gwendraeth House, by a 'prominent photographic journal'. They declined to publish, saying it was "too political". It is a marvel that work which in its very essence was overwhelmingly political could be thought too much so. The title went to the heart of a deep vein of continuing concern in Welsh art about marginalisation and demonisation of the "Taffy was a Welshman; Taffy was a Thief variety, which was actually the subject of that particular body of work.
Finnemore is an artist, one of many in Wales, who uses photography as art medium. He does so with immense skill and veers sharply from a kind of 'twilight' nostalgia, also a substantial element in the above works (which might perhaps better be described as 'magical political') for real lost places, customs and times, with a biting, hard-edged depiction of the bleakness of structures in the post-industrial landscape. But even in these there is more than a grain of mystery:
... the same dreary monochrome wastes, which could in fact be on the margins of any UK town and indeed on the margins of any post-industrial settlement the world over ... Behind such structures are murders done, as well of course such traditional folk activities as abandoning cars, variegated rubbish dumping and of course different forms of sex, licit and illicit.
('No Laughing Matter' in Haha: Margam Revisited)
What Finnemore brings and which lifts these photographs above the depiction of the ordinary, is a cleverly wrought anti-realism. His realism succeeds in being so totally ambiguous that he invests the back of a roadside sign with all the threat of a time-patinated image of an old crime scene. He is the master of the threat lurking behind the prosaic and innocuous. In the Gwendraeth House series, we imagined spirits or ectoplasm afloat in the garden but it is far from mere fancy set loose, there is serious intent and political-cultural points are being made, maybe very poetically, but seriously nevertheless.