A new exhibition of hand-printed portraits reflects on the traditional heritage of commons and reflects on what the future holds for this historic practice. The exhibition features images and opinions from farmers, land owners and others involved in commoning and the care of the upland commons in Dartmoor.
The exhibition, at Princetown Visitor Centre, is part of a wider project, Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons. This aims to increase public understanding of commons and commoning, to encourage people to work together to improve outcomes from common land, and to safeguard the heritage of commons during a time of great uncertainty and unprecedented change within farming.
There are many voices to be heard in the discussion about the future of upland commons and the policies that shape effective farming practice and environmental management. These voices include farming families, land owners, water companies, ecologists, archaeologists, government bodies with statutory duties, local residents and visitors as well as the general public.
The portrait images in the exhibition, which are made on a large format film camera and hand printed, are accompanied by personal reflections shared during formal interviews. The exhibition reveals a strong and often passionate connection to the land and a range of hopes and concerns about what lies ahead; and underpins the importance of bringing together a variety of skills and voices in shaping the future of Dartmoor and other upland areas of common land.
One element of Our Common Cause is a social cohesion study that explores people’s relationships to the commons. In Dartmoor and the Yorkshire Dales this study has been carried out by documentary artists Harriet and Rob Fraser. This exhibition draws on their meetings with people in Dartmoor, with a particular focus on the commons at Holne, Harford & Ugborough, Bridestowe & Bridestowe, Sourton and The Forest of Dartmoor, there are also contributions from the Yorkshire Dales.
The exhibition runs from 9th May to 9th June at Princetown Visitor Centre, Dartmoor National Park – free entry.