Artists' book by Chris Drury and Kay Syrad
Available for £12
In recent years, several family-run farms in the downlands of West Dorset have switched to organic farming, each for different reasons. Food is fundamental to life. The way we produce it is the most pressing issue of our times. So why is that a group of farmers in this small, rural community in Sydling St Nicholas and Godmanstone have so radically changed their approach to working the land? What does it mean to the communities – and the rest of us – whose lives depend on farmed landscapes?
In 2013, the artist Chris Drury and the poet-novelist Kay Syrad were invited by Cape Farewell to work alongside these Dorset farmers as part of our Rural Residency Programme. Exchange a hand-made book nearly 60cm tall and bound in cow hide, is the result of this two-year collaboration. Containing the stories of the farmers, the book also connects materially to the land, with images of local wild plants monoprinted on paper that was buried in Dorset ground for almost a year. Combining Drury’s artwork and Syrad’s prose and poetry, it is a sensitive and authentic portrait of a group of men and women whose life and livelihoods are shaped by the land, and a rich exploration of their work, the soil, and the sustainability of their farming. With its focus on a very particular landscape, the book reveals to us the creativity and resilience of organic farming, and shows just how much we all need to value the complexities of food production and our long-term relationship with the land.
Exchange will form a major part of a touring exhibition that was at the Fine Foundation Gallery at Durlston Castle, Swanage, in August 2015.
To mark this event, Little Toller Books and Cape Farewell have created a smaller, paperback version of Exchange, priced at £12.