Wow! What a night our private viewing was!
I couldn’t have asked for a better way to exit UCA than seeing the work of ALL 3rd year undergraduates, but most importantly the work of my peers and my own standing loud and proud in all its glory. I am super proud of all the hard work we put into the showcase, and our Private View accentuated just that. From designing the publication, selecting colours, installing the walls, painting, cleaning the floors and hanging work, it was the best way to show off our work as a collective and independently.
UCA has been more than just a place of education over the last 3 years, it has given me some of the most amazing memories. I’ve made everlasting friendships, I’ve met some incredible practitioners, I’ve visited some incredible places and I’ve grown as a person. I’ve exceeded far more than I ever imagined and I’m grateful to have been pushed out of my comfort zone to make work which is nothing compared to what I thought I could or would produce. This is most definitely evident in my work since the beginning of year 2. Growing and developing over the course allowing me to find my own niche in documentary practice, embodying both my passion for working with the public and creating a voice and awareness to unheard stories.
My latest body of work, which was exhibited at UCA, is a hand-bound concertina titled, I am a Farmher. Within this body of work I set out to discover and demonstrate women’s ability to expand the definition and preconception of a ‘farmer’.
The work led from person connections as I watched a lady adopt and absorb this way of life so willingly and learnt so quickly the vast amount of work & care animals and the land require. It got me thinking about the face of farming & how this industry could be changing.
To see if I could create a strong body of work, something which would reach out to a wider audience, and something which women within this industry would be interested in participating in, I posted on Facebook to generate a following & an enquiry. The response I received was phenomenal. So many commented on the post & it started a really strong community between myself and multiple female farmers.
For centuries women have always been involved in farming. In WWII they bridged the gap for farm workers playing a fundamental role as ‘Land Girls’, forming, shaping and developing the land. However, believing the natural preconception surrounding this masculine occupation has only lead to a prolonged failure to recognise the roles women have played in agriculture.
I travelled to 5 different farms across the UK and delved into a very unfamiliar way of life, exploring the lives of women who are defying the masculine story.
I worked alongside women who work with their partners, with their children, alongside their siblings or on their own. The progression of the work and the relationships I formed with these women was what drove so much of this project and only made me want to know more about the industry and their feelings and experience. I Immersed myself into the surroundings; I partook in lambing, milking and mucking-out, truly experiencing the adversity, connection and passion each of these women feel on a daily basis.
I photographed the elements of my series using 120 medium format, as I wanted a medium which complemented the slowness and developing of the land, alongside the intensity and demand this profession requires.
My intention of I am a Farmher was to unveil multiple experiences and stories which entwine and ripen before our eyes and presenting the series in a concertina book allows for the works to be expanded and projected to viewers. I strived to create a multidimensional rendering of women in farming; a platform to expose their existence and selves. Raising their silent voices and visibility within the family farm and agriculture is an integral part of my work, aspiring to provide recognition to the endless contribution female farmers undertake.
Throughout the development of this project, it was prominent when observing and talking to the women that although the opportunities may be growing, it is evident that the old traditions and views are still very much embedded within this industry. Over time I would like to continue this work and expand further afield visiting more women from around Great Britain to really create a dynamic and adverse body of work, possibly creating a concertina for different regions.
For now though, I’m going to enjoy graduation and summer, continue my hunt for some form of job and start planning my new ventures.