Rural Artist Residency Programme

Exploring Heritage, Sustainability and Innovation


Cape Farewell is proud to launch a series of Rural Artist Residencies. Artists will be invited to engage diverse, wide-reaching audiences with rural narratives. Working at the frontiers of natural, social and climatic change, they will interrogate the inspirational resilience and social ties that form when local communities embrace heritage, sustainability, and innovation.

First Residency

For the first residency renowned land artist Chris Drury, novelist, poet and freelance writer Kay Syrad and Dorset based artist Guy Martin were commissioned to work in the area of Sydling St. Nicholas, Dorset - an area that has been indicated as AONB, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They were invited to develop a personal response to the working life sustained by the valley, as a natural, cultural and community habitat.


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, Chris Drury and Kay Syrad worked alongside these Dorset farmers. ‘Exchange a hand-made book nearly 60cm tall and bound in cowhide, 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 starts at the Fine Foundation Gallery at Durlston Castle, Swanage, in August 2015. To mark this event, Little Toller Books and Cape Farewell created a smaller version of Exchange, a collectible, limited edition of 60 hardback copies signed by the authors and presented with a small, unique artwork by Chris Drury. These are now sold out, but you can get the smaller, paperback version for £12.50 by following the link below.

Purchase 'Exchange'

Exchange Touring Exhibition, Locations and Dates:

  • Fine Foundation Gallery, Durlston Gallery, Swanage : 15 Aug - 1 Sep, 2015
  • Dorset County Hospital : 5th February - 2nd April 2016
  • Bridport Arts Centre : 25th June - 25th July 2016
  • Duke's Auctioneers : 3rd August - 31st August 2016

In each location the exhibition will be accompanied by a wide programme of community engagement with feasts, workshops, talks and live music

Second Residency

Vanessa Reid, Cape Farewell's new Rural Artist in Residence has unveiled her exciting new project 'The Milking Parlour', coming to Bristol on 21st - 25th April 2016