Agricultural shows have been part of British farming life for centuries: from contests for best livestock to cake, craft, flower and vegetable competitions, they are important annual meeting places for rural communities. The smaller shows last for a day, the largest cover a whole weekend, but,  whatever their size, these celebratory gatherings draw in participants and audiences from the surrounding region, serving as a brief meeting of urban and rural culture.

Agri[culture] began in 2018 with Wideyed photographers Lucy Carolan, Richard Glynn, Louise Taylor and Nat Wilkins collectively focussing on the annual agricultural shows taking place in the North Pennines area of England where they live. The resulting images, combined with literary responses to a selection of images by NorthPens Writers, was first exhibited in Wyoming before touring back to source as an outdoor travelling exhibition – installed in a 12’ cattle trailer – touring to the 2019 season of agricultural shows.

The travelling exhibition gathered momentum by collecting more images, stories and memories from the viewing public: by inviting the shows’ communities to reflect on these longstanding rural traditions, the project served as a starting point for conversations around agri[cultural] identity, gathering impressions about collective sense of place in past, present and future.

Over spring 2020 Agri[culture] was exhibited at Sunderland University alongside Flora and Fauna, a response to our work by University of Wyoming photography and printmaking students. Wyoming, in the Western United States sits at high elevation, surrounded by public lands, ranching, and hunting culture. University of Wyoming students’ photographic and photo-print responses to Wideyed’s exhibition consider relationships to flora, fauna and ranching agriculture in Wyoming and the American West. Issues of “wild” and “domestic” featured prominently in the resulting work, with each student considering their own relationship to the tamed and untamed nature of rural life in their home state.

Agri[culture], the book was published by Wideyed Editions in August 2020