Since we still have a farm in the village, albeit empty and increasingly dilapidated, I decided to restock it with a low maintenance herd of cattle courtesy of Ebay. Cows, calves and the odd bull (outbid on a milkmaid) are arriving every few days. With livestock transport via Royal Mail and no heavy duty paperwork or vet bills involved, think I’m onto a winner.
I’ve been walking round the empty farm buildings. The area will at some stage be developed for housing, so I want to record these spaces before they get demolished. The ceiling of the milking parlour has collapsed in places since I did these drawings. Its ten years since the last cow was milked.
West Country listing magazine Evolver, invited artists to submit work for the cover of their 100th edition. I did a little research on past covers and submitted this …..
Title – Number of male to female contributors for 99 Evolver covers. (Covers unattributed are classified under gender of performer, choreographer, writer, or gender dominance in group.)
It didn’t get shortlisted.
In a few short years Andelli Art has gained a reputation throughout the West Country for showcasing work by emerging, mid-career and established artists from around the UK.
Their latest exhibition Ground, co-curated by gallery owner Ellie Jones and artist Fiona Hingston, explores the physical and emotional aspects of terrain, topography and place through the mediums of photography, painting, drawing and ceramics.
Featured artists: Jonathan Alibone, Simon Beer, Georges Csato, Fiona Hingston, Neil Juggins, Dion Salvador Lloyd, Sarah Purvey, John Tunnard, John Virtue and Martin Wade.
4 – 25 March 2017
Other times by appointment
The Mendip Ploughing Society held their annual match last month. On show were a variety of ploughing methods by horses, tractors and steam engine. The love for these old machines, from tiny horticultural ploughs, to Massey Fergusons, to massive traction engines, along with the skills of those who maintain and use them, was a joy to see.
Ploughing classes included –
For the best ben of High Cut work ploughed by a Competitor under 21 years of age at the day of the Match. Width of furrow to be not less than 8” wide, depth to given out on the field.
For the best ben of land ploughed by any competitor using a Ferguson T20 Tractor and Ferguson plough. (Separate rules for Ferguson Tractor and Plough).
For the best ben of land ploughed by any Competitor using a tractor (in production before 31st December 1959) and trailing plough. Mould boards should not exceed 43”.
The field was alive with sight and sounds: chugging machinery, funnels belching thick, grey smoke, marquees full chatter and the clatter of china, men in overalls bent over their ploughs making fine adjustments and judges with tape measures eyeing the straightness of deep brown furrows. I was mesmerised by all this activity; like a scene from a Bruegel painting, it made me nostalgic for the past.
When we first came to the village the dairy farm was the heart of the community, with a small team of workers who lived locally. Fields were ploughed by Justin and Shane. (I found a tractor once, rolled over on hillside, empty, with the radio still blaring.) Cows were milked by Barry and later when the farm was sold, by Tony. He milked all hours of the day and night and could be glimpsed through the parlour door, sleeves rolled up, plastic apron around his waist and white wellies on his feet, surrounded by steam and water.
We waited patiently as the cows were marshalled along the lane, playing ‘jump the cow pats’ as we walked to school. No cows now. I walk and rarely see a soul let alone machinery. Contractors maintain these fields, in and out within a few hours, often working at night.
Now ploughing is seen as unsustainable and new farming methods of no tilling have been introduced, the Mendip Ploughing Match and others that take place all over the country, keep these skills alive.
Into my second week of Open Studios tomorrow. Not to beat about the bush: its been quiet. So quiet that I’ve had to think about ways of working that don’t involve making a mess in the tidied up studio. So I found my camera, switched the Mac on and wiled away my time honing my limited Photoshop skills. Its enjoyable. Below is a composite of books on my studio table. Unless we have a deluge of visitors from now on, there may well be more of these images…….