Focus on Farmers (2003-5)

a project of Aune Head Arts with Beaford Arts

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 Coakers: Runnage Farm (working with Kirsty Waterworth and Beth Hamer)
The Malseeds: Frenchbeer Farm (working with Gregg Wagstaff and Tania vanSchalkwyk)
The Hawkins: Warren Farm (Exmoor) (working with Tessa Bunney and Louise Cottey)

The artists involved in the project, together with the artwork they produced were:

Tony Hill (lead) and Hannah Standen (apprentice)

  • Farm Film (video/DVD) (Hill)
  • Greenwell Barn (video/DVD) (Hill/Standen)
  • Farming Greenwell (2 CD set, 2 sound pieces) (Standen)
  • set of B/W photographs (Standen)
  • Farm-based sound walks/installation (Standen)

Kirsty Waterworth (lead) and Beth Hamer (apprentice)

  • Situation/Frustration (sculpture: granite, neon, sisal) (Waterworth/Hamer)
  • Leaping Lamb (slide projection onto living grass screens) (Waterworth)
  • Chandelier (sculpture: redundant tractor parts, candles) (Waterworth/Hamer)
  • Runnage Farm (artists' and farmer's book) (Waterworth/Hamer with Phil Coaker)
  • Farm walks, installation (Waterworth/Hamer/Coaker)

 

Gregg Wagstaff (lead) and Tania Van Schalkwyk (apprentice)

  • Frenchbeer (interactive DVD, including photographs, interviews, sound maps, 2 videos, sound recordings) (Wagstaff/Van Schalkwyk with farm family)
  • Shearing Magnolia (video/DVD) (Wagstaff/Van Schalkwyk)
  • Shearing Magnolia (poem) (Van Schalkwyk)
  • Lifelines (video/DVD) (Wagstaff/Van Schalkwyk)
  • Lifelines (poem) (Van Schalkwyk)
  • Mare (poem) (Van Schalkwyk)
  • The Patchwork Quilt (poem) (Van Schalkwyk)
  • TableTalk (poem) (Van Schalkwyk)
  • Farm Art (poem) (Van Schalkwyk)
  • Chaise Longue (listening platform for poems with sheep fleece, wood, minidisc player, ram's horns earphones) (Van Schalkwyk)

 

Tessa Bunney (lead) and Louise Cottey (apprentice)

  • Colour photographs (8 enlarged medium-format images mounted on aluminium) (Bunney)
  • Colour photographs (4 pinhole camera images mounted on a single aluminium sheet) (Bunney)
  • Colour photographs (25 medium-format images mounted on a single aluminium sheet) (Bunney)
  • My Life with Horses (artist's book with text and images) (Bunney)
  • Weavings (9 sculptures with found agricultural objects, sheep fleece, horse hair) (Cottey)
  • Weavings (site-specific found object weavings onto fences, trees, hedgerows, farm buildings, and agricultural objects at Warren Farm) (Cottey)

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

Arts Council EnglandDartmoor Sustainable Development FundDefra Dartmoor National ParkTeignbridge District CouncilWest Devon Borough CouncilThe Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

 

Related Links

About the Project
Image Gallery
Media Gallery

Press pages

 

 

 

 

updated: 2-apr-11 6:38