• 16 Land Keepers Exhibition, Stage One

    The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, which is why it has taken a while to post a blog about the ‘taster’ Land Keepers exhibition at Woolfest. A huge thank you to Pam Hall and the Wool Clip for inviting us to be part of such an exciting event and offering the Small Ring for the exhibition.

    We chose to present a selection of colour images on easels, and display Black & White portraits, along with written pieces, on the walls of the viewing stands. When we arrived on the morning of the first day there were already names in the comments book and by the end of the second day over five hundred people had wandered around the ring. Some had ambled through, others lingered for a long time, and we spent the full two days chatting and answering questions, explaining what clouting is, talking about winter gathers, and getting into deeper conversations about farming past and present, and what the future might hold.

    Having our work out there on show and watching people’s reaction was a landmark occasion. The photographs seemed to draw people in. Some were mesmerised by the stillness and poise of the Black & White portraits, where the person photographed always locks eyes with the viewer; others loved the colour shots of farming in practice.

    There was a lot of interest in one particular photograph, of a fine Herdwick Tup being held for showing at Keswick May Fair – so we decided to put this one up for grabs in our competition. We’ll be announcing the winner soon.

    We also had a good response to the writing. We chose to display some blog posts as an overview of farming here, a piece on clouting, and some more poetic boards. The one pictured here presents answers to the question ‘What qualities does a person need to be a farmer in the uplands of Cumbria?’ (We have asked this question of over 60 people so far).

    Some of the farmers we have met and photographed came along and had a look at their own images, and had a chance to see just what it is that we've been up to all this time! It can be a bit nerve wracking when the people who matter the most, and feature in a piece of work, come face to face with it. Thankfully, they liked what they saw. And as we strolled around the exhibition with them we were able to talk about each of the people photographed and chat as we usually do about how things are going on the farm. And many said, as they do so often, that it's good - and important - to get the story behind the land out to as many people as possible.

    Here are some of the comments left in our book. Thank you to everyone who helped to bring the exhibition to life ...

    ‘What a wonderful exhibition. It goes right to the heart of the farming life. Absolutely love it!’

    ‘Very moving, authentic report of the vital connection with the land, animal husbandry can afford us still’ Lorenzo, remembering a hill farm in Italy

    ‘humbling and enlightening’

    ‘Delightful, superb exhibition. Really enjoyed the comination of photography, poetry and typography. Stimulated to thought (and celebration) about the balance of life on the fells’ Jonathan

    ‘Extremely interesting. I have lived in the West Cumbria area for 14 years and have learned more about ‘the Land Keepers’ in this last weekend than in the last 13 years!’

    ‘Great photography and words – give a real insight into life on the land here. Thank you!’ Debbie

    We're looking forward to phase two ...

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