Alannah Cooper made work focussing on the village customs, folklore and traditions of the Staffordshire Moorlands and Peak District. Having researched communities, rituals and annual customs that are particular to villages like Endon, Ipstones and Froghall she then found them all cancelled during the Covid 19 pandemic and so became reliant on her research and reconstructions.
In the work AND IF THE DAY HAD OTHER THINGS TO SHOW, THEY ARE FORGOTTEN NOW she asks ‘What can be determined about a place by the stories lucky enough to be written down and the clues found in archive images?’ Endon’s Well Dressing, which dates back to 1845, is celebrated and blessed annually with a May Queen, May Pole, Scarecrow competitions and a host of activities. Dressing the well with cut flowers is used to celebrate nature and fertility, now arranged into images of man’s footprint – buildings, boats, bridges and flags. Alannah’s research looks into the possible pagan origins of well dressings and their existence as a celebration of clean water following the pandemic of the Black Death. She stages the predominant rituals and customs that draw our attention to their existence and truth.
Alannah is a photographer inspired by capturing the wildness of tradition and the nature of craft. Photographer, writer, interviewer, and craftswoman herself, her portfolio has been built on her insatiable need to explore. As a fashion photographer, she dedicates her time to projects that bring her to people and places where fashion exists in different ways.
Originally from the Orkney islands, Scotland, her ideas alive from the materials of rural land and the lore she grew up around. It is not uncommon for her work to feature family members, home towns, and the small patterns and details that can remind the viewer of their own. Today, she continues to search for new interpretations of rural surroundings that enchant the everyday life of craftsmanship, explore the accessibility of creativity, and promote the sustainability of fashion.
Alannah Cooper has an MA in Fashion Communication from Central Saint Martins and before that she spent four years at Heriot-Watt University in the Scottish Borders. She was the first-ever recipient of the New Fashion Image Prize at Central Saint Martins, 2018 selected by Lou Stoppard and Simon Chilvers.
Image Credit: by Alannah Cooper