In January 2020 GRAIN Projects commissioned 11 photographers to make new work in collaboration with and in response to rural communities and locations cross the Midlands. In the new bodies of work the artists and photographers explore issues of rural life, environments, economics, politics, land use, community, young people and cultural identity against a backdrop of crises of post Brexit agriculture, the global climate emergency and the Covid 19 pandemic.
The projects range from the poetic, documentary, conceptual and archival and demonstrate a range of different approaches to photography about the rural that is not dominated by the picturesque, pastoral or romantic but by important new voices that show the complexities, connections and diversity of the rural landscape, people and places in a state of significant change and decline and our essential and integral relationship with the rural.
The projects culminate in a new publication and a symposium which will provide a platform for sharing the work as well as for presentation and dialogue about the issues and concerns that have been explored and that the work raises.
Writers Camilla Brown and Mark Durden have written essays for the publication and will be speaking at the symposium alongside the artists and photographers.
The artists and photographers are Alannah Cooper, Emily Graham, Guy Martin, Leah Gordon, Marco Kesseler, Matthew Broadhead, Murray Ballard, Navi Kaur, Oliver Udy and Colin Robins, Polly Braden and Sam Laughlin.
The project is supported by Arts Council England and Birmingham City University.