A prestigious presentation was made in August. It was the award of Honours of the NWPA to Rhodri Clark. It is a distinction given to recognise an outstanding contribution to photography in North Wales in clubs and the Federation over a long period of time. He can now put Hon.NWPA after his name.
Tony Davies, our NWPA representative, had suggested that Rhodri should be put forward for the award and Peter Jones wrote the citation which was submitted to the NWPA in January. Although the distinction was approved by the NWPA within a couple of weeks, we were unable to present him with the award before the Covid pandemic forced us to suspend our club meetings.
I first met Rhodri at a camera club exhibition in Conwy and it was as a result of his welcoming manner that I later joined Conwy Camera Club in 1999. At that time, he was club Secretary and always showed a desire to do all he could to share his considerable skills and knowledge of photography and encourage other club members, and particularly newer members, to get involved in club activities.
While embracing new technology as we have moved into the era of digital photography Rhodri has at times organised sessions of ‘darkroom work’ to show younger members some of the techniques that used to be commonplace in photography.
Rhodri had a leading role in the setting up of the club archive and through this has created a strong link between past members and the membership of today. He still puts in a lot of work maintaining and enlarging this collection which includes an extensive library of photographs of the local area since the 1930s. A while ago he initiated a project in which members re-photographed, the same locations to illustrate the changes over the years. The past and present photographs have since been assembled as a pictorial book, “Conwy Then and Now”, which will appeal to both residents and tourists.
He has always shown a keen interest in the local community and it was Rhodri who initiated the setting up of a display of members’ work in a vacant shop window in Conwy High Street which ran for many years providing a point of interest for both locals and visitors as well as tidying up what was then a less than attractive corner of town. In recent years when this building was re developed and the window was no longer available the club negotiated the use of space in the Civic Hall and, for the past few years, Rhodri has organised interesting displays of members’ work there. Unfortunately, with the recent closure of Civic Hall, the club has now lost this facility and we hope that one day we might find another suitable location in town.
He regularly photographs Conwy Town events for the Mayor’s Office for their records and press releases.
As part of the commemoration events of the two world wars, he arranged a display of photographs depicting local army veterans. To do this Rhodri, assisted by a group of Club members, set up a temporary studio in a shop on Conwy High Street, borrowed old army uniforms from Gwynedd Archives and then invited members of the public to come in off the street and ‘model’ as service personnel. The results of this project were very well received locally.
Rhodri had a big part in the setting up of the ‘History Points’ scheme around the Conwy area. He has always been eager to build bridges between the club and the local community.
It was through Rhodri’s initiative that the club started producing a yearbook in 2011 and he has played a major role in its production annually since.
Two club members who married in 2003 might never even have met if it hadn’t been for Rhodri’s welcome to an American visitor who phoned one day enquiring about club activities! The front-page report of the wedding was arranged by Rhodri with a local paper which was also good publicity for the club.
He does all this with quiet unassuming enthusiasm and the club is a far better place for having had him as an active member for so many years.
In the photograph, Andy Polakowski, President of the NWPA on the left, made the presentation to Rhodri with Peter, who wrote the citation and his wife Sylvia are in the middle. Peter and Sylvia are the couple who Rhodri brought together.