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The Rural Gaze
Various Artists

The Rural Gaze Various Artists

The Rural Gaze Various ArtistsThe Rural Gaze
Various Artists
Grain Projects

Texts by Camilla Brown and Mark Durden.


170 pages
250 x 310 mm
ISBN 9781527293632


In January 2020 GRAIN Projects commissioned 11 new bodies of work by photographers who collaborated with rural communities, making work in response to rural locations in the English Midlands. The diversity of approaches are significant and provide a new voice in the rural aesthetic.

This book contains eleven new bodies of work that draw our attention to some of these issues and themes. Writers Camilla Brown and Mark Durden have contributed essays to this publication that explore the themes of the work by commissioned artists and photographers 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.

In the 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 climate emergency and Covid 19 pandemic. In England the rural accounts for 80% of the land area and around 20% of the population (source DEFRA). These are communities that are the minority, are often not heard as loudly as the urban, who face many societal issues including deprivation, isolation, health and wellbeing concerns and are often misaligned and misunderstood.

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 the complexities, connections and diversity of the rural landscape. The work responds to people and places in a state of significant change and decline and our essential and integral relationship with the rural.

The projects show a disappearing way of life, disconnected communities and habitat loss, brought on by a lack of understanding of the rural, our extraction from the natural world and consumerism. At this time rural communities have lost faith in our politics, government and systems, not for the first time in our history, Brexit has so far failed the countryside and rural habitats and communities are vanishing.

About the Authors
Camilla Brown is a curator, writer and lecturer on contemporary art, specialising in photography.

Mark Durden is Professor of Photography at University of Wales, Newport.

About the Publisher
Grain is an arts organisation affiliated with the University of Birmingham.

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