I’m Hollie Crawshaw, a graduate from Editorial & Advertising Photography at the University of Gloucestershire! Specialising in agricultural photography, my work aims to document rural related stories, capturing topics surrounding farming, the countryside and livestock.
Recently, I held an exhibition as part of Herefordshire’s Big Apple event, with a wildlife painter. The Big Apple Harvestime event in the village of Much Marcle, runs every year and celebrates the autumn apple harvest. With a close community of cider and perry producers, the event attracts hundreds of people each year with visitors able to view the orchards, farms and mills which supply some of Britain’s famous ciders. During the weekend a tractor and trailer escorts visitors to and from the 8 sites spread across the village. My exhibition was held at Awnells Farm, a historic farm breeding traditional Hereford cattle, now owned by the Countryside Restoration Trust and linked to RBST (Rare Breeds Survival Trust). My work was hung amongst the war time farming machinery in an old farm barn and I received a lot of positive feedback from those who attended the 28th Big Apple on 8th-9th October 2016.
I have been part of a Facebook group of ladies working within agriculture, since writing my dissertation and completing my final major project on female farmers. The page is incredibly supportive of my work and the women have kindly accepted me into their community. It was through this platform that I got the opportunity to take part in this exhibition and was contacted by one of the members, who is chairman of Herefordshire’s RBST. We discussed the possibilities of displaying my work within the walls of an old barn at Awnells Farm, which had been left lifeless for many years. A wildlife painter had also been contacted and together we were very exciting to envisage our work within this appropriate environment and large, unusual space.
We started planning 3 months before opening weekend. I took on the responsibility of sourcing funding and, after many emails and phone calls, was granted £250 from a local Herefordshire fund. To reach a wider audience and aid our chances of being funded, we decided to add an educational aspect. We decided to invite the local primary school to attend, where we discussed farming, animals, art, photography, conservation, wildlife and the farm’s history. The 83 pupils also enjoyed taking part in painting workshops and visiting the farm’s cattle herd. It was a great learning curve for me to talk to young people about my work and inspiration. It was a good way to start the weekend and the funding we obtained paid for all the children’s art materials as well as my photographic prints!
I had full control over how I wanted the work displayed, the placement and the edit. I wanted the display to look as industrial as the farm location, as well as the content of the photography. I had seen the work of a photographer who hung prints in an old fishing using bulldog clips. I had a space of 8 meters to hang my work and therefore decided to have 11 large A1 prints displayed using wire and clips. The images were selected from a variety of my photo projects including Female Farmers and Times You Might Get Kicked, which documents a dairy farm. I wanted the overall appearance to demonstrate what sort of photographer I am and most importantly what I love to shoot! When meeting at the farm, I discovered usable equipment that would add to the heritage of our exhibition. For example, I used old fruit crates, hay bales and pallets to stand my photo books on.
Taking part in my university degree show, proved a particularly useful experience which helped the success of this exhibition. I applied similar marketing techniques and targeted a lot of advertising on Twitter. I created printed material which was distributed across local areas and was featured in Three Counties Farmer magazine, a free publication sent out to farming communities across Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire.
Overall the exhibition was a great opportunity to showcase my work in an extremely appropriate and beautiful location. I met many people from the agricultural community and received industry feedback both in person and via social media afterwards. Because it was part of a larger event, the marketing proved very efficient and had a substantial following. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have been asked to hold another exhibition at Awnells Farm as part of Open Farm Sunday next year.