Projects: Field Work
One of England’s most rural and agricultural regions, East Anglia is a place with a long history of people working the land. Here the Romans grew their wheat and barley, and a culture of family owned agrarian farms developed and flourished, continuing an agricultural tradition with a lineage extending back to the region’s peasant farmers of the early Middle Ages. But during the last 50 years things have changed. Most of the small farms are now gone.
These photographs are from the East Anglian counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. They tell the story of those that remain – the stoical small-time farmers who continue to work the fields because it is all they know. They are the forgotten people of the flatlands, whose identity is intimately shaped by the landscape that surrounds them. Theirs is a way of life that is deeply rooted in the past. Traditional methods and knowledge are still very much depended upon. How best to plough, sow, hoe, and harvest a field to reap the best from it. The detailed histories and biographies of the local landscape. Farmers who have come and gone, from what direction the fox will come to steal a chicken, and who planted a particular oak tree and when. The old ways continue to work, so there is no need to change.
I have spent many hours in the fields, patiently watching how man and the land intimately shape each other. If I am looking closely, occasionally I am offered a glimpse into the mystery of this ancient relationship. It is a fleeting moment; I click the shutter; and I wait….