Bridgend has been tainted by an unusual amount of suicides since 2007. In my Documenting Britain project, Suicide Machine, I want to discover if the town is actually to blame or if it is purely coincidental. Bridgend is my where I live with my family, I want to find out what ultimately lies ahead for my daughter and at the same time rediscover my hometown.
I had the idea for this project in 2009 whilst checking into Gatwick Airport, London for a flight. After looking at my passport the desk attendant said “Bridgend, isn’t that where all the suicides are?” It then dawned on me that the town where I was born, grew up in and still live, was now infamous, nationally.
So finally in 2013 I decided to start documenting my town and the people who, like me, live there. What is it that makes a ‘normal’ town like Bridgend end up with such a bad reputation? On the surface it’s just like any other town. In fact, it’s probably a step above other towns due to its near-perfect location, lying alongside the M4 corridor, a mere two hours drive from London. Additionally, Bridgend sits just 10 minutes away from beautiful coastlines and wonderful valleys, and is 20 minutes equidistant between Wales’ two main cities of Cardiff and Swansea.
The main aim of the project is to rediscover Bridgend and find out if it is as generic, oppressive and depressing as I’m starting to believe. What does the future hold for Bridgend; a town that’s slowly being constricted by supermarkets and out of town developments? Does happiness exist here? Why has there been an exodus of most of my friends? Can the town recover? Is aesthetic regeneration really the answer? and also what kind of town will my daughter ultimately grow up in?