In Trust exhibition at Tredegar House

The Orangery at Tredegar House

Lithuanian photographer Arturas Valiauga's exhibition In Trust: Reframing Wales' Stories offers us a privileged insight into four of Wales' leading National Trust properties and the people who bring them alive today.

In July 2014, Lithuanian photographer Arturas Valiauga visited four National Trust properties as part of his European Prospects residency with Ffotogallery, the national development agency for photography in Wales.

At Dyffryn Gardens, Tredegar House, Plas Newydd and Penrhyn Castle he encountered the private and public faces of these historic places and the men and women who make up the community of people who look after them today.

Valiauga was able to explore the four properties in all their aspects – behind the scenes and after closing time. His images encapsulate a moment in time in the lives of these places, which have since outlived those who built them. His quiet, poetic photographs celebrate the commitment of the people who ‘serve’ these houses and offer us a privileged insight.

Arturas Valiauga said: "Every story has an end, but the end of one story means the beginning of another. And depending on the storyteller or the rules of storytelling, 'unnecessary' details are left out and detracting circumstances are ignored. Some say that ignorance is bliss. However, the details of daily life are usually the most intriguing, allowing a listener to feel a personal part of that story.

"Mansions and castles long outlive those who built them. Treasures inside bear silent witness to the nation’s history and identity. In today’s global Europe, mansions which used to symbolise political and economic power have lost their primary and main function – to separate one’s own from that of strangers, private from public. For a long time, they were private centres for the elite.

"Today, in the system of democracy, mansions often become a financial burden to their heirs. Castles and palaces as symbols of high society are turned into public places held in trust for the nation, where distant history and private stories become part of national pride and identity. As well as an expression of past glories and personal wealth and dignity. 

"Mansions and castles require daily toil and the fidelity of the citizens who serve them. History is being recycled by their staff members, volunteers and visitors. And artists as well... So, history becomes a story."

In Trust: Reframing Wales' Stories will be available for public viewing everyday between 10.30am and 4pm in the Orangery until the end of the season.

'Entrance to the Hall' by Lithuanian photographer Arturas Valiauga
One of the photos from the In Trust exhibition