Art and farming

You may remember right at the beginning of our Marathon (week 2 to be precise) we visited Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard in East Sussex. While we there we spoke to the owner, Roy Cook, about our trip and he mentioned an artist called Georgina Barney who had zigzagged her way around Great Britain working on farms and creating pieces of art.

Intrigued, we got in touch and arranged to meet up with her in the last week of our tour to hear about her project. A contemporary artist based in Leicestershire, Georgina spent a lot of time on her aunt and uncle’s farm in Powys, mid-Wales, and began to see a connection between art and farming. If you look at the stereotypes of both an artist and a farmer, they seem to be worlds apart, but the act of creating something links the two and both farming and art demand independence, entrepreneurship and self-motivation.

With this is mind, earlier this year she spent eight months travelling around British farms and land-based projects in a journey funded by the Arts Council England and supported by Farming and Countryside Education (FACE), trying to draw inspiration from working in different rural working environments and documenting it all in a blog. You can read all about her experiences on her website, Great British Farming.

Great British farming.
Great British Farming

She spent up to two weeks on a variety of farms in Scotland, England and Wales, ranging from a croft on the remote island of Eigg to a city farm in Sheffield. At the end of each visit, she sought to conclude it by making some kind of object, which she photographed and made into a postcard. These postcards were then displayed in a series of exhibitions on her return in the autumn. One of our favourites was this one, based on her time with a Stilton cheese producer in Leicestershire:

Cheese postcard.
Mid-Land Cheese: front

Now she has finished her tour, she has is concentrating her efforts on communicating across the rural/urban divide and getting other artists on to farms across the East Midlands. The day we met, she took us to Woodlands Organic Farm in Lincolnshire, where she was interested in meeting the owner, Andrew Dennis.

Chees postcard back.
Mid-Land Cheese: back

An Arts Council England grant enabled Andrew to invite a writer and poet called Clare Best, from Sussex, to stay on his farm and be a ‘writer in residence’. Every few weeks she would visit the farm and organise community projects (such as farm visits and poetry workshops for local schoolchildren) and write poems based on her experiences of the work being done at woodlands.

What’s interesting is that every month at least one of her poems would be popped in to the 2000 fruit and veg boxes that the farm sends out, which we thought was an innovative way to link art, farming and the community. To read some of Clare’s and the schoolchildren’s poems, click here.