Farmwork

Farming was part of my childhood. My father was a farmer, or rather a farm worker. He grew up in Lincolnshire in the 1920s-30s. When war broke out in 1939 he joined the Royal Engineers. At the end of the war he worked on the WARAG scheme to increase agricultural production. That’s him in the driving seat of what he said was the first 12 foot combine in the UK.

I started the Farmwork project 1984 to document the life and work of agricultural workers. Things have changed over the years and there are fewer people working on the land to the extent it is sometimes difficult to realise that they are still there.

The photography was supported by a grant from West Midlands Arts which allowed me to spend two years travelling to many parts of the UK. The result was over 10,000 B&W negatives and around 3000 colour transparencies which are now held by the Museum of English Rural Life at Reading University.

The project produced two exhibitions the first being conventional framed prints which toured to over 80 venues over several years. The other version consisted of 24 laminated A2 panels of images and text was toured by the Ikon gallery.

Funding the exhibition came from ICI Agricultural division who, I can honestly say, had no influence over the content.

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