Tuesday 4 June 2019

As part of the Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons project development, a new exhibition of hand-printed portraits reflects on the traditional heritage of commons and reflects on what the future holds for this historic practice. The exhibition features images and opinions from farmers, land owners and others involved in commoning and the care of the upland commons in Dartmoor.

The exhibition, at Princetown Visitor Centre, has been running for a month 9th May-9th June 2019 and aims to increase public understanding of commons and commoning, to encourage people to work together to improve outcomes from common land, and to safeguard the heritage of commons during a time of great uncertainty and unprecedented change within farming.

There are many voices to be heard in the discussion about the future of upland commons and the policies that shape effective farming practice and environmental management. These voices include farming families, land owners, water companies, ecologists, archaeologists, government bodies with statutory duties, local residents and visitors as well as the general public.

The portrait images in the exhibition, which are made on a large format film camera and hand printed, are accompanied by personal reflections shared during formal interviews. The exhibition reveals a strong and often passionate connection to the land and a range of hopes and concerns about what lies ahead; and underpins the importance of bringing together a variety of skills and voices in shaping the future of Dartmoor and other upland areas of common land.

One element of Our Common Cause is a social cohesion study that explores people’s relationships to the commons. In Dartmoor and the Yorkshire Dales this study has been carried out by documentary artists Harriet and Rob Fraser. This exhibition draws on their meetings with people in Dartmoor, with a particular focus on the commons at Holne, Harford & Ugborough, Bridestowe & Bridestowe, Sourton and The Forest of Dartmoor, there are also contributions from the Yorkshire Dales. A Yorkshire Dales exhibition will follow later this summer.

Our Common Cause is carrying out work in Dartmoor, the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and the Shropshire Hills, so that bridges of learning can be built between different areas, and, through this, a more resilient approach to future management of upland commons across England can be achieved.

Our Common Cause is convened by the Foundation for Common Land working in association with 23 partner organisations on upland commons across England. The Project has funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, alongside funding from other project partners, for a Development Stage between January 2018 and October 2019. If our funding bid is successful, the project will run for three years 2020-23.