#Charliesyear - A Welsh farming story
The exhibition of this year and a half long project was held in the Theatre Brycheiniog, Brecon in Feb 2020. Charlie and I are incredibly proud of this body of work and the honest and true reflection of a year in a young Welsh farmer's life. Although COVID-19 has put pay to many follow up projects resulting from the exhibition, you can still purchase or buy prints from my Gallery 'Charlies Year'. Please follow the link to see the body of images: Gallery of 'Charlies Year'
I would like to thank the farming and agricultural community for their huge support and positive feedback following on from the exhibition. Many have said it is the truest reflection of modern farming they have seen a long time. Praise indeed from a tight-knit community.
For those unfamiliar with the project, it all started like this...
An accidental bumping into Charlie, and after a long catch-up chat (we had been former neighbours), he told me how at the age of 21 he had been about to disappear to New Zealand to do a years' shearing experience. A dramatic event changed his life course when his father suffered a severe medical illness. He was suddenly thrown into the full time running of the family farm, taking on the mantle from his dad. Not shying from the responsibility Charlie has to adjust to the role he may well not have had until later in life. Along with his sister Pip and mum Katherine the trio farm over three areas of farmland straddling the hills and valleys adjacent to the Black Mountains, it is both mentally and physically - hard work. As well as the farm he still finds time to run a successful shearing and dipping business. Many would have faltered; however, he strives on.
I talked to Charlie about my desire to work on a project within the local farming community that I loved. Having noticed Charlie had a keen eye for images and photography on Social Media, (most that were viewable anyway!) I broached the subject of a project. We talked about what I wanted to do and decided together, to give it ago. Over a period of about 18 months, I tagged along with him as he went about his work. Sometimes the events were upsetting to a lay person, as farming is not always the picture-postcard life we all imagine and see on TV but, a story of trials and tribulations of the start of life and the end of life of the livestock they take care of. Combined with this is the management and working of the land to feed, house, and maintain the flocks and family herd of cows.
Throughout the period I worked as a photographer alongside this young farmer capturing the daily goings-on of a Welsh farm in the Brecon Beacons National Park. In a challenging social, environmental, and political era, where farmers especially the young generation have tough choices to make whether they continue in the footsteps of their forefathers or whether to diversify and cope with an ever-changing market place, food-lifestyle and climate change - we cracked on.
Never have farmers faced such challenging times threatening not only their lively hood and way of life but also living with it. The pressures and stresses of family life, the mental toll of hard winters, financial fluctuations within the market place all have an impact. I am very grateful to not only Charlie and his family for allowing me this insight but also to the many other contractors and colleagues who all played their part through the year and put up with me pointing a big lens in their direction.
I welcome the chance to talk to Camera Clubs and Groups about the work or am happy to discuss editorial content as a result of the project. Please message me on [email protected].
Ann and Charlie
Some of the images from the forthcoming exhibition