Paintings, drawings and Somerset voices
Kate spent two years with nineteen Somerset farming families. Where now there is one working farm in a village, there were often dozens. Nearly every farm milked cows – sometimes only one or two – and many of the farmers in the project remember hand-milking and working horses. The farm would also have a pig or two, a few sheep, hens, and grew food for their animals. There was almost always an orchard and most farms made cider – for themselves and as a wage for their workers – the farms that made the best cider attracted the best labourers!
Kate’s FARM paintings and drawings, and the resulting book, include working farms with their roots in this old mixed farming tradition and the memories and stories Kate collected from these farmers take us back in time. The stories of the farming families chart the history of rural Somerset from the early 1900s through to the present day, and the paintings and charcoal drawings celebrate the work that goes on behind the scenes to produce locally grown food.
“My great-grandfather made cider and as children we used to have to go and help pick the apples. We were expected to help… moving cows, moving sheep, turning the handle on the sheep-shearing machine, everything done by hand. I remember the cider making when I was very young. It was a communal thing, where all the village people used to come in and help. Everyone would be picking and then they’d be sitting there telling yarns in the sheds where the apples were being pressed… going back 50 years you made it for yourselves and your neighbours, it wasn’t commercial. Then all the apple pomace used to be fed to the pigs… there were always pigs and sheep in the orchard, and cows and calves.”
Mary Lockyer, Bere Cider Company, near Aller