Photographer Jennifer Forward-Hayter is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the project ‘England’s Dreaming’. To see Jennifer’s body of work, click on any image.
Since moving to London, I have often heard much disbelief and judgement towards rural communities, where I originally grew up. Some spoke about the countryside as if it no longer existed,
“What, people live on farms? Don’t real farms smell though?”
“Why are they wearing boiler suits? Do they have to wear them?”
“Why don’t they just stop farming? It looks far too hard.”
This type of mythological thinking of ‘green and pleasant lands’ has created an extraordinary disconnect in understanding the countryside and its effect on the wider world, and to a certain extent, is what has caused these communities to become so cut-off in the first place. Beautiful pastoral scenes are postcard perfect when advertising to tourists, or as backdrops to period dramas; they’re England’s Dream. However, England is dreaming if it thinks these images can be sustained. How are outsiders meant to interact seriously with something that they don’t think exist?
Rural communities remain isolated as they sacrifice infrastructure, financial support, and many modern comforts in order to keep these romantic rolling hills. Farmers are one of the worst groups affected, as international traders, they work in poor conditions, and closing markets. By using the excuse of the camera to barge my way across fields and barns, into markets and out on hunts, I re-introduce this reality to the fantasy – you can’t have one without the other.
BREXIT provides further strain, with a poor-, or no-deal exit, farmers face losing the ability to trade with a wider market, and also lose out on several funding grants which are crucial to making their farm, work. This exploration also followed the release of statistics detailing that at least one farmer kills themselves each week.
All images and text © Jennifer Forward-Hayter
By Jennifer Forward-Hayter