It’s like something straight out of Agatha Christie’s books, a typical whodunnit mystery. Zygmunt Adamski’s body was found resting on a ten feet high pile of coal, miles away from his home. He was a local miner and there were no signs of foul play — the only peculiar feature on his body was a mark, evidently a burn on the back of his neck and head. Police Constable Godfrey was first on the scene and with the benefit of hindsight months later he recalled seeing a large dome-shaped craft before he was blinded by a flash of light and found himself 100 yards away and with a blank 25 minute memory spot — something that has never happened to him in his career before. The most unusual aspect of this was to be unearthed shortly — not only was the PC’s boot split open, but he also had an itchy red spot on his foot, what looked like a burn and not unlike the one on the victim’s head.
This is the very abridged back story to what would eventually become Rik Moran’s investigative body of work Chance Encounters in the Valley of Lights. It follows multiple lines of inquiry including, but not limited to, transcripts of interviews, hypnosis sessions, found photographs and materials and original images taken by Moran. What could have happened? Are we alone in the universe? Why was Adamski in particular chosen and what was the purpose of his assassination? Was PC Alan Godfrey just in the wrong place at the wrong time or was there something more grand behind what happened to him? The project poses more questions than it answers and it leaves the viewer bemused and none the wiser.
The power of the camera as a tool to investigate and delve into mysteries has been used almost since its invention, with some early notable examples being William Mumler, who was thought to have captured the spirit of former US president Abraham Lincoln in the early 1860s, and the Cottingley Fairies by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths from 1917 which purported to be showing magical creatures. Although believed at the time, perhaps guided by the notion that the camera doesn’t lie, these were eventually refuted and proven to be deceptively manipulated. Rik Moran’s project isn’t pretending to have solved the inexplicable death or Godfrey's extraterrestrial encounter — he doesn’t give us any answers, yet his images try to make sense of what happened. A recurring motif in his photographs is the sky — in fact, in almost every photograph we can see both the earth and the sky as if trying to tell us that there is something else out there and the earth isn’t the only habitable place in the universe.
A black and white photograph stands out as the only monochrome image in this selection. It’s eerie and uncanny — the place is completely deserted, apart from the lights in the house.
Were they left on on purpose? The sky is clear, yet there us one glowing dot — a star, or is it? — and a trail of something we cannot see. It’s very possible, of course, that everything has a reasonable explanation, but 40 years on it is yet to be found and it leaves us relishing in the unknown.
— foreword by Zak R. Dimitrov
1th June 1980, Todmorden, West Yorkshire, UK.
Found resting on a pile of coal ten feet high, 20 miles from his home in Tingley, local miner Zygmunt Adamski’s body has no visible injuries except for a mark – perhaps a burn – on the back of his neck and head. Coroner James Turnbull called it “the most mysterious death I have investigated in 12 years as a coroner.”
First on the scene was Todmorden PC Alan Godfrey who, six months later describes seeing a large dome-shaped craft. Blinded by a flash of light, he comes to his senses 100 yards away and with 25 ‘missing’ minutes to account for. On returning home, Godfrey realises his left boot is split and he has an itchy red mark – perhaps a burn – on his foot.
Chance Encounters in the Valley of Lights uses a mix of original photography, archival material and found imagery to further ignite imaginations and theories around this story. Taking in everything from PC Alan Godfrey’s life and encounter, the mysterious death of Adamski, transcripts of interviews and hypnosis sessions, and a myriad of related events and occurrences in what’s claimed to be the UFO hotspot of the UK, Todmorden, West Yorkshire.