Focus on Farmers (2003-5)
Focus on Farmers (FoF) was developed as a contemporary artistic response to a contemporary issue regarding hillfarming on Dartmoor and Exmoor. The central idea was to use contemporary artforms to present Dartmoor and Exmoor as living landscapes maintained through farming, and the agricultural practices of their hill farmers, commoners and others who use the moors. The project commissioned three mid-career artists from across the UK, and three apprentice artists from the SW region. There was no restriction in the original call as to artform or practice.
The brief was wide open: each artist was to spend thirty days in residence on their farm, living and working with the farm family, over the course of nine months. The lead artists were expected to produce some work responding to this situation; the apprentice artists were expected explore their experiences, but not necessarily committed to produce any finished work. Lead artists would provide some degree of mentoring for apprentices, and AHA also organised some mentoring sessions as well as bringing all the artists together (sometimes together with the farm families) on a number of occasions. In the middle of the project, all the artists came together with AHA for a residential weekend on Dartmoor to look at work in progress.
The four farm families and their farms, chosen after close consultation with the farm families were:
The Coles: Greenwell Farm (with Tony Hill and Hannah Standen)
The artists involved in the project, together with the artwork they produced were:
Beaford Arts was an essential partner in the project, facilitating the work with Warren Farm, but also producing and technically managing the tour of Village Halls in north Devon and Somerset.
The final exhibition, which was curated by Simon Ryder, was seen by almost 50,000 people during its tours of village halls, urban art galleries, tourist venues, and other sites. It was seen by a very mixed audience of art-goers and non-art-goers alike, with some very positive feedback in the visitors' book. Venues included Buckland Abbey (National Trust), the Museum of Dartmoor Life, the High Moorland Visitor Centre (Dartmoor) and the Exmoor National Park Centre, the national conference of the Association of National Park Officers in Exeter, Exeter Phoenix, the Devon County Show, and many more. Village Halls included Swimbridge, Zeal Monachorum, Knowstone, Molland, Abbotsham, Romansleigh, West Buckland, Lynton, and Withleigh.
The project funders
updated: 2-apr-11 6:38