Sea Empress community project features Garth Lenz photography workshop

Pembrokeshire residents have the chance to work alongside a top conservation photographer visiting the county as part of a project remembering the Sea Empress oil spill.

Garth Lenz is making the trip from his native Canada to take part in a community project based at Manorbier’s Reading Room – a former village hall recently reinvigorated as a cultural space for the county.

The renowned photographer, a senior fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, is best known for his project The True Cost of Oil which examines the impact of the oil industry on the natural world.

“The Sea Empress oil spill anniversary provides a cautionary tale of the risk of these enterprises,” says Lenz. “Just as the comparison of the Pembrokeshire coast and Pembroke oil refinery provide a visual contrast of the consequences of tying the local economy to heavy industry versus one based on the beauty of the natural environment.”

Mr Lenz will give his talk at 7pm, 15th October at Manorbier Reading Room and his photography workshop, at West Angle Bay, is the next day, Sunday 16th October.
(Workshop places are limited and booking is essential).

His talk and the workshop are part of a programme of events arranged by artist and film-maker Abigail Sidebotham who is delivering a project aimed not just at remembering the Sea Empress disaster but also extending understanding of its impact 20 years on.

“It’s been a fascinating and really revealing experience interviewing local people who remember the oil spill,” explains Abigail, adding that two decades on she wanted to try and look beyond the economic and ecological impacts and towards the psychological and existential effects.

“Everyone has a different memory of it, but what they have in common was a need to do something about it.”

Abigail’s interviews, recorded with the assistance of local volunteers, are being made into an oral history archive which will be exhibited at Manorbier Reading Room. It will then be held at the National Library of Wales and the Tenby Museum.

The project, enabled by money from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Beatrice Plunkett, also includes creative work with local schoolchildren, a series of themed newspapers and a programme of talks and film screenings.

“So much of our local history is woven into people’s reminiscences and experiences. Thanks to National Lottery players, the Sea Empress project will capture these elements of Pembrokeshire’s shared history in danger of disappearing as it slips out of human memory,” added Richard Bellamy, Head of HLF Wales.

The programme starts on 15th Oct with Garth Lenz’s talk The True Cost of Oil and his photography workshop the following day. The full events programme is:

– 15th Oct 7pm, Garth Lenz – The True Cost of Oil.
– 16th Oct 10am – 4pm, Garth Lenz photography workshop, West Angle Bay.

Places limited, booking essential. Email Abigail at: seaempressproject96  at

– 22nd Oct 7pm, Rob St John and Mick Brown present local wildlife recordings.
– 18th Nov 3pm, Sea Empress oral history exhibition launch party.
– 19th – 27th Nov 11am – 5pm daily, Sea Empress oral history exhibition.

All events take place at the Reading Room, Manorbier unless otherwise stated.
Further information available on the project blog at:

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