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Pier Closing Time – Michael Bennett

Posted on May 6, 2021 by in Current Exhibition, Future Exhibitions

24th June - 7th Sept 2021 


Our wonderful host building, Theatr Colwyn has just started to show cinema films again! We are pleased to be able to now open Oriel Colwyn around the varying days it is operating.



Pier Closing Time showcases Michael Bennett’s 1979 photographic journey through North Wales. Mournful of a lost world, always ironic, this is a bitter-sweet portrait of seaside resorts in and out of season.


Llandudno ©Michael Bennett 1979


In 1979, The Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno was due to re-open after decades of closure. Its recently-appointed director Hugh Adams commissioned a photographic project from photographer Michael Bennett, with the intention of capturing the atmosphere of North Wales coastal resorts in winter.

With a working title of Anatomy of Melancholy, an exhibition was scheduled soon after the gallery’s refurbishment and re-opening.

Things didn’t quite go to plan.

Soon after photography began, Hugh Adams resigned, to be replaced by (unrelated) Clive Adams.

When Michael delivered the project, he was surprised to find the gallery responded negatively to the images.


Penmaenmawr ©Michael Bennett 1979


"The gallery commissioner almost certainly expected a romanticised impression of the coast," he says. "To me, this wouldn't have been honest - I felt I needed to show exactly how it was."

The new artistic director’s solution was to commission a return to the same places in summer, in the hope that the show would be more upbeat.

Summer in the resorts brought more people but no fundamental change in character.
Fearful that the finished exhibition would be a catastrophe, Adams asked amateur photographers to exhibit their own work alongside Bennett’s, to counter its perceived pessimism. Renamed The Road to Barmouth, the exhibition opened in 1980. Following hostile local newspaper reviews, on closure it was dismantled and then forgotten for nearly 40 years.


Rhyl ©Michael Bennett 1979



The project would have stayed out of sight forever had it not been for Val Williams and Karen Shepherdson, curators of Seaside Photographed, an exhibition first seen at the Turner Contemporary Museum, Margate in 2019. Following a public call for submissions, Bennett sent images from the North Wales project.


Llandudno Library ©Michael Bennett 1979


Ten pictures were selected and shown as part of the first photographic show staged by The Turner Contemporary, and were included in the accompanying Thames & Hudson book, alongside works by Jane Bown, Martin Parr and Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The original film negatives were digitised, restored and re-mastered for this book.

Following renewed interest, in late 2020 the project was published in a dedicated book for the first time. Many images had never been seen before. The first signed limited edition sold out nearly instantly. A second signed edition was available from 20th January 2020. The book is now in its 5th print run and can be purchased from Cow On The Roof Press HERE


Llandudno Pier (closing time) ©Michael Bennett 1979



Self-taught in photography, in 1976 Bennett created an intimate project documenting his own family, first seen at the Impressions Gallery of Photography, York. The Family toured England, was seen at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, and later made into a BBC Arena film.

The Victoria & Albert Museum and the Arts Council of Great Britain acquired work from The Family for their permanent collections.

He has worked for The Times, The Independent, The Sunday Times, The BBC, The Financial Times, BBC World Service, New Society, and The New Statesman, and had a long association with the satirical magazine Private Eye.

A number of Bennett’s portraits of prominent British people commissioned by The Independent are in the National Portrait Gallery, London.

London’s Victoria & Albert Museum acquired the complete Family project, adding to the V&A’s collection of Bennett’s work, which includes other pictures (Platelayer on Holyhead main line, 1979) from the Welsh project seen in Pier Closing Time.



We’ve put changes in place so that you can enjoy a safe visit. You can read about the changes we’ve made below, as well as some guidance we’d like you to follow when visiting.

Please remember, stay at home if you’re feeling unwell, or have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, we will not be allowed to let you in if you have any Covid-19 symptoms.

To help everyone keep a safe distance, we are asking all visitors to book free tickets in advance for an allocated 30 minute time slot. This will help us manage the number of people visiting. Currently we are limiting entry to 6 people per timeslot.

The days and times of the gallery opening will be posted weekly in advance on social media, where 30 minute viewing slots will be made available for booking.

All timed viewing slots are FREE of charge.


Please note, we have made a few changes to ensure your safety when visiting:


  • Book in advance as we have reduced the gallery capacity to provide a safe environment for exhibition viewing.
  • You will be able to book up to a maximum of 6 tickets, for yourself and those in your household. For anyone unable to book online we recommend calling 07425 157845 and we will organise your tickets.
  • Arrive at your selected visiting time. Please only arrive just before your allocated time slot. If you have not arrived by 10 minutes into your timeslot we might give your slot away to walk-in bookings.
  • Following new guidance from Welsh Government face coverings must be worn as you enter the building and must remain in place for the duration of your visit, unless exempt in line with Government guidelines.
  • At reception we will welcome you and ask for your tickets. You can print your tickets at home in advance, present them on your mobile phone or give your name.
  • On arrival you will be required to sanitise your hands, there will be hand sanitising points at the entrance and throughout the building for your use. We ask that everyone keep a 2m social distance from others.
  • We will be asking for contact details of all visitors. We will only share your details with NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect if asked in the event of a visitor or member of the team testing positive for coronavirus.
  • There is a one-way system at the gallery entry and exit points. Please use the main stairs to enter the gallery and exit via the lift. (This can be adapted to suit any access needs)
  • Follow all social distancing markers and instructions from staff.
  • Once within the gallery space you will be free to explore the exhibition in a socially distanced way. There is safe distancing and other guidance signage on-site and our staff will help to ensure a welcoming and safe experience for everyone.

We want you to be as safe as possible during your visit, if you have any questions or concerns please ask a member of staff.





Mae Pier Closing Time yn dangos taith Michael Bennett mewn ffotograffau drwy Ogledd Cymru ym 1979.  Mae’n hiraethu am fyd coll, yn llawn eironi, ac yn bortread chwerw-felys o drefi gwyliau glan y môr yn eu prysurdeb a'u tawelwch.

Ym 1979, roedd Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno ar fin ailagor ar ôl degawdau o fod ar gau.Comisiynodd y cyfarwyddwr, oedd yn newydd yn ei swydd, brosiect o ffotograffau gan y ffotograffydd Michael Bennett, gyda’r bwriad o ddal awyrgylch trefi gwyliau glan y môr Gogledd Cymru yn y gaeaf.

Trefnwyd arddangosfa yn fuan ar ôl adnewyddu ac ailagor yr oriel, a’r teitl arni oedd Anatomy of Melancholy

Ond aeth pethau o’i le.

Yn fuan ar ôl cychwyn ar y ffotograffiaeth, ymddiswyddodd Hugh Adams, a daeth Clive Adams (dim perthynas) yn ei le.

Pan gyflwynodd Michael y prosiect, fe’i siomwyd gan ymateb negyddol yr oriel i’w luniau.


 “Roedd comisiynydd yr oriel yn sicr wedi disgwyl delwedd ramantaidd o’r arfordir,” meddai. “I mi, ni fyddai hyn wedi bod yn onest- teimlais fod angen dangos pethau fel yr oedden nhw.”

Ateb y cyfarwyddwr artistig newydd oedd comisiynu gwaith yn yr un llefydd yn yr haf, gan obeithio y byddai’r sioe yn fwy bywiog.

Yn yr haf, daeth mwy o bobl i’r trefi ond doedd dim newid mawr yn y cymeriad.

Gofynnodd Adams i ffotograffwyr amaturaidd arddangos eu gwaith ochr yn ochr â gwaith Bennett, gan ei fod yn ofni y byddai’r arddangosfa’n fethiant, ac er mwyn lleddfu rhywfaint ar y besimistiaeth a welai.  Cafodd ei hail-enwi yn The Road to Barmouth, ac agorodd yr arddangosfa ym 1980. Digon cas oedd yr adolygiadau yn y papur newydd, a phan gaewyd yr arddangosfa, anghofiwyd amdani am bron i 40 mlynedd.



Byddai’r prosiect wedi aros o’r golwg am byth oni bai am Val Williams a Karen Shepherdson, curadwyr Seaside Photographed, arddangosfa a welwyd am y tro cyntaf yn Amgueddfa Fodern Turner, Margate yn 2019. Ar ôl cais cyhoeddus am gyfraniadau, anfonodd Bennett y lluniau o brosiect Gogledd Cymru.

Dewiswyd deg o luniau a’u dangos fel rhan o’r sioe luniau gyntaf yn Amgueddfa Turner, a chawsant eu cynnwys yn y llyfr oedd yn cyd-fynd â’r arddangosfa, Thames & Hudson, gyda gwaith gan Jane Bown, Martin Parr a Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Cafodd ffilm y lluniau gwreiddiol eu digideiddio, eu hadfer a chreu copïau meistr newydd ar gyfer y llyfr hwn.

Ar ôl diddordeb o’r newydd, ar ddiwedd 2020, cyhoeddwyd y prosiect mewn llyfr arbennig am y tro cyntaf. Mae nifer o luniau nas gwelwyd o’r blaen. Gwerthodd y cyhoeddiad cyfyngedig cyntaf gyda llofnod arno, mewn amrantiad. Roedd ail gyhoeddiad wedi ei lofnodi ar gael ar 20fed Ionawr 2020. Mae’r llyfr ar ei 5ed argraffiad bellach a gellir ei brynu gan Cow On The Roof Press HERE



Fe’i addysgodd ei hunan mewn ffotograffiaeth, ac ym 1976 creodd Bennett brosiect personol yn cofnodi hanes ei deulu ei hun ac fe’i gwelwyd gyntaf yn yr Impressions Gallery of Photography, yn Efrog. Aeth The Family ar daith o amgylch Lloegr, ac fe’i gwelwyd yn yr Institute of Contemporary Art, Llundain ac yna’i droi yn ffilm BBC Arena.

Cafodd Amgueddfa Victoria & Albert a Chyngor Celfyddydau Prydain waith o The Family  i’w roi yn eu casgliadau parhaol.

Mae wedi gweithio i The Times, The Independent, The Sunday Times, BBC, The Financial Times, BBC World Service, New Society a The New Statesman, a bu ganddo gyswllt hir gyda’r cylchgrawn dychanol Private Eye.

Mae nifer o bortreadau Bennett o bobl amlwg ym Mhrydain a gomisiynwyd gan The Independent, yn National Portrait Gallery, Llundain.

Cafodd Amgueddfa Victoria & Albert yn Llundain y prosiect Family cyfan, gan ychwanegu at gasgliad y V&A o waith Bennett, sy’n cynnwys lluniau eraill (Platelayer on Holyhead main line, 1979) o'r prosiect Cymreig a welir yn Pier Closing Time.




Nodwch os gwelwch yn dda, rydym wedi gwneud rhai newidiadau i sicrhau eich diogelwch wrth ymweld:

  • Archebwch ymlaen llaw gan ein bod wedi lleihau capasiti’r oriel er mwyn darparu amgylchedd diogel ar gyfer gweld yr arddangosfa.
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  • Yn dilyn canllawiau newydd gan Lywodraeth Cymru mae’n rhaid i orchudd wyneb gael ei wisgo wrth i chi fynd i mewn i'r adeilad a rhaid parhau i'w wisgo am weddill eich ymweliad, oni bai fod yna eithriad yn unol â chanllawiau'r Llywodraeth.
  • Yn y dderbynfa fe fyddwn yn eich croesawu ac yn gofyn am eich tocynnau. Fe allwch argraffu eich tocynnau ymlaen llaw adref, eu cyflwyno ar eich ffôn symudol neu roi eich enw.
  • Wedi i chi gyrraedd bydd gofyn i chi ddiheintio eich dwylo. Fe fydd yna bwyntiau diheintio dwylo yn y fynedfa a thrwy’r adeilad er mwyn i chi eu defnyddio. Rydym yn gofyn i bawb gadw pellter cymdeithasol o 2 fetr oddi wrth eraill.
  • Fe fyddwn yn gofyn am fanylion cyswllt yr holl ymwelwyr. Dim ond os y gofynnir i ni rannu manylion, os yw ymwelydd neu aelod o’r tîm yn profi’n bositif am y coronafeirws, y byddwn yn rhannu eich manylion gyda chynllun Profi, Olrhain, Diogelu GIG Cymru.
  • Mae yna system unffordd ym mynedfa ac allanfa’r oriel. Defnyddiwch y prif risiau i gael mynediad i’r oriel ac ewch allan drwy’r lifft (gellir addasu hyn i weddu i unrhyw anghenion o ran mynediad).
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Rydym eisiau i chi fod mor ddiogel â phosibl yn ystod eich ymweliad. Os oes gennych chi unrhyw gwestiynau neu bryderon holwch aelod o staff.