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Janet McEwan: Holding Movements

Helston Folk Museum 24th October – 4th November 2011





‘Farm as though you were going to live forever, and live as though you were going to die tonight’ 
James Stevens. A Cornish Farmer’s Diary.  1877 - 1912

'Holding Movements' is a visual diary tracing seasonal events and phenomena in and around my home, between May and September 2011. Movements recorded within this time window range from the almost imperceptible to the dramatic, such as the complete construction of an industrial solar farm in neighbouring fields.

As I live on a small grass farm near Cornwall’s North Coast which supports grazing animals, the condition and rate of growth of the sward is of paramount importance, and features frequently in this journal of photographic images; mostly luminograms and solargrams. With exposure times from several minutes up to 4 months long, the sun has etched reports directly on to light sensitive paper and offers a counterpoint to the digital photographs which include images of tiny invertebrates extracted from a farm soil sample, with the assistance of Rothamsted Research in Devon.

Holding Movements, not only documents an effort to connect with and describe a contemporary agricultural situation in Cornwall; the tangible challenges and opportunities, but also attempts to convey my observations and understanding of the farm as the physical manifestation of an ever evolving living system of exchange, informed by deeply situated, embodied and often tacit knowledge acquired in the main through working directly with the land over time.


Janet McEwan 2011