• Instagram

Contextual Statement

 

In 1973, chemist Richard Kemp moved from London to Tregaron, West Wales. This is where he created his laboratory to create the purest form of LSD the world has ever seen (99.07%). His LSD was set to “turn the world on” and create social change for a better world. On May 9th 1975 Richard Kemp lost control of his Red Range Rover which collided with another car, killing the passenger. The Range Rover was seized and searched where a letter containing the word hydrazine hydrate was found, a precursor for LSD. This is when Richard Kemp gave away his position and Operation Julie began.

 

Operation Julie is the codename given to the undercover operation that was set up by Dick Lee to catch Richard Kemp and his LSD gang. The operation saw 15 defendants receive 120 years in prison, the seizure of 1.1 million acid tabs and enough LSD crystals to make 6.5 million tabs worth a staggering street value of £100 million. The isolation of West Wales and the friendly nature of the locals is what allowed for Kemp and his gang to succeed for such a long period of time. The story now embedded into modern Welsh folklore has been passed down from generation to generation, to be retold and never forgotten. 

 

The Frog and The Mole incorporates and references a wide variety of photography from forensic photography, documentary photography and late photography. This is done to recreate the presence of the polices camera in the town, retracing the police’s and criminal’s footstep.  The images record sites of drug exchange, laboratories and other key elements to the story. The work depicts ideas inspired by the story and catches moments along the way which refer to the operation. The Frog and The Mole walks a fine line between fact and fiction, re-presenting archival material and objects alongside new images, forcing the viewer to go on a journey, deciphering clues and discovering the charged landscape. The work intends to question ideas around photographic representation and the photograph as an object of truth.

 

The book is presented as a crime file, with inserts of newspapers and documents working as clues to help decipher the story. With the viewer engaging with the book they recreate the surveillance of the police, spying on the landscape and people who inhabit it.

© Liam Webb 2019