Colin Robins & Oliver Udy: Anthology of Rural Life – Farmers of The Lizard

15 June - 1 September 2024

Like rural researchers, Oliver Udy and Colin Robins co-create a collection of all things that ‘make’ rural places, both visible and invisible, both material and experiential. Portraits of people and animals, landscapes, practices and experiences of the everyday. This is rural life – where people live, what jobs they do, how they spend their free time. Networks, products, houses, desires. These are all rural too.  (Dr Menelaos Gkartzios, Reader in Planning and Rural Development at Newcastle University.)

The Anthology of Rural Life is a project that provides a comparative visual study of the continuities and differences in patterns of life within contemporary rural areas. These in turn reflect shifting economic, social and cultural forces occurring in diverse European contexts. In the summer of 2024, an exhibition of the Anthology of Rural Life will be held at Kestle Barton Gallery in Cornwall (UK). This will include images made in locations across Europe alongside recent work focusing on farming life made on the Lizard Peninsula. The exhibition aims to develop a narrative around shifts in rural life, and some of the complexities currently facing the countryside. It also provides a recognition of the central place that farming continues to play in the social and economic landscape of the Lizard:

‘Robins and Udy’s project overlaps with disciplines of photographic anthropology, cultural geography and rural sociology. Their work can be situated more specifically within a distinguished history of comparable photographic projects that combine the visual language of artistic practice with the remit of an investigative survey. They describe what they do as ‘gently mapping’ a place and its inhabitants. The result avoids agrarian romanticism and rural heroism. Rather, it provides an understated, descriptive emphasis on individuals and specific sites’. (Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photography, Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

The complete Anthology of Rural Life project will be archived at Kresen Kernow as a social and historical document.

Photograph by Oliver Udy and Colin Robins, Harold, Rona, Elsa and Nevil Amiss, Tregullas Farm (2024)

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This exhibition is in collaboration with Falmouth University, University of Plymouth, Falmouth Art Gallery and the Museum of Cornish Life, Helston.

Selection from the exhibition

Colin Robins and Oliver Udy are British documentary photographers based in Cornwall. Both are academics teaching Photography, as well as practitioners working individually within Photography and Publishing.  Colin and Oli have been collaborating on the Anthology of Rural Life project for over ten years. Their shared interest in quiet documentary practice has evolved over time with a collaboration that sheds light on the shifting nature of life in diverse European rural areas. So far, their work has taken them to Finland, Italy, Poland, Hungary, Turkey as well as different studies in areas of the UK.

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