When I think of living and working in Cumbria I firstly think of the land and the people who work it. Farming is at the beating heart of rural Lakeland communities and the culture of Cumbria past and present. So much of my photographic and film work is spent documenting and preserving a record of rural life, and I think it is important to capture what is here while it is here. I was inspired by the idea of Artful Ways to meet a Lakeland hillfarming family, to listen to their stories, and take a journey around their land.
I headed to Town Head Farm, north of Grasmere at the base of Helm Crag in the Lake District, and met the Benson Family: Will, his wife Emma and their two children Jack and Lily. While schools were closed last year whole family was at home and helped with the running of the farm.
I tracked my route around the farm starting with an introduction to some very rowdy Geese that Jack has been tending to over lockdown. Then I took a traditional family portrait at the front of the farm house.
Circling their inbye lands, we moved their beautiful Limousin cows down the lane across a bridge where Raise Beck feeds into the River Rothay. Over the bridge they went, with Will and Jack walking alongside the herd on the way to pasture. I quickly took a shot of this with sun dappled light dancing on the road.
We carried down the lane to herd a flock of Herdwick sheep into another meadow, the whole family working together with their dogs steadying the flock. With Helm Crag as the backdrop to this all, I’ve never felt so close to the historical essence of Lakeland living.
My process of photography is shooting with a medium format camera that has only 10 shots per roll. The limitations of this mean I have to distil the situation into only a handful of shots – this is exciting, and brings a personal interpretation of the moment.
Answering the three Artful questions
Creativity – What does creativity/culture mean to you?
Creativity is another language to communicate and express yourself with. I think it can take many forms and present itself subtly. It can be the glue in culture, filling gaps of understanding through expression and ideas.
Connectivity – Covid-19 has forced us all to reimagine ways to connect. What have you missed – and what new possibilities have opened up?
We have all done so well in making communication work via digital means and it has been a huge benefit to those of us who live rurally or have access needs, which I hope continues. However screen time has been upped more than ever and it is a distraction at the best of times. Meeting face to face and connecting with people in real life context has been missed so much.
Place – How can we, collectively, and artfully, better care for our environment?
Being conscious of the traces we leave and ensuring we are mindful our impact is low. Continuing to be actively engaged and informing ourselves means we can all contribute from our small corner, with care and attention to our environment.
You can find out more about Juliet’s work here: http://julietklottrup.com/