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The art of capturing the watery wonders of Wales; With some of the British Isles' most evocative landscapes, Wales has long-inspired poets and artists. Now, reports Robin Turner, a new book mixes poetry with stunning photographs of the nation's natural wonders.

WITH its breathtaking mountain ranges, beautiful valleys and impressive coastline Wales has long been celebrated in poetry, art and photography.

The lakes and hills and remote waterfalls have inspired a range of artists and creative types.

A coffee table book celebrating our beautiful landscape - and people - with emphasis on the country's waterfalls, lakes, rivers and other waterways is being launched today.

Alchemy of Water (Alcemi Dwr) published by Gomer Press contains more than 40 striking images from photographers Mari Owen and Carl Ryan alongside poems by writers Tony Curtis and Grahame Davies.

The book's stunning cover photograph is a brooding study of a marooned boat on Dylan Thomas' "splendidly curving shore" of Swansea Bay.

Others take in a wide range of subjects, including a swollen river in the Neath Valley, icicles glittering on the branches of a petrified tree in the Brecon Beacons and clouds massing over Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station in Gwynedd.

Wrexham-born, now Cardiff-based Davies is a novelist, editor and literary critic, who has won numerous prizes including the Wales Book of the Year Award.

In the introduction to the bilingual new work he said: "Water is so ubiquitous in our landscape and our legends, in our weather and our words, that there is a danger that we fail to appreciate something which is so essential, so inevitable, so vital."

Tony Curtis, born in 1946 in Carmarthen is Emeritus Professor of Poetry at the University of Glamorgan.

Educated at Swansea University he has won awards including the National Literature Competition and the Gregory and Dylan Thomas Awards and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2001.

He said the four artists on the project worked together "because we all love Wales, and know in our hearts and souls that we would be nothing like the artists we are without our roots in this most beautiful of small countries".

A Gomer spokeswoman said: "The hardback volume delights in the transformational and magical quality of an element which is abundant in Wales.

"This alchemy is observed and fixed by the breathtaking landscape photography of Mari Owen and Carl Ryan and is crystallised further by the jewel-like poems of Tony Curtis and Grahame Davies."

Davies said: "Water can transform the ordinary into the spiritual and the sublime.

"A sunset reflected in a lake, the raw power of a waterfall, the accumulation of mist along a valley floor - water has so many ways of transforming our views and enriching our experiences.

"Wales is full of lakes, rivers, moors, coastal and mountain regions that resonate with ancient memories."

The book is being launched at the Drill Hall, Chepstow, today and will have a South West Wales launch at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace in Uplands, Swansea on Friday, October 11.

Carl Ryan said: "This was a hugely challenging but immensely satisfying project in which we hope to have captured Wales and water from still lakes to fast running rivers and seas."

The book was previewed at this year's Hay Festival and at the Dylan Thomas Birthplace launch the four authors will give a presentation and take part in a question and answer session.

| Alchemy Of Water / Alcemi Dwr (Gomer Press, PS19.99) is out now.


Alchemy of Water contains more than 40 striking images from photographers Mari Owen and Carl Ryan
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 3, 2013
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