The Guernsey Photography Festival and Guernsey Museums present a new exhibition by British photographer Sîan Davey.
“For the Love of the Land” is the result of Sîan Davey’s residency in Guernsey throughout 2021/22.
For the Love of the Land
With its long tradition of farming passed down through generations, Guernsey’s agricultural community has a special place in the hearts of local people who still feel strongly connected to it. But it is also a fragile sector of the island’s economy, facing an uncertain future that reflects on all the individuals and families who dedicate their lives to the industry.
Sîan Davey’s ’For the Love of the Land‘ is about Guernsey’s farming community but was never intended to be a documentary in the traditional sense. You will find no story to follow in this exhibition, nor true impartial and objective descriptions of how people follow their daily routine at work.
I know Sîan Davey well. I first invited her to Guernsey in 2016 to exhibit the series “Looking for Alice” – an emotionally charged project about her second daughter. It examines Sian’s long and personal journey to conquer her own fear and anxiety, allowing her finally to love her daughter who was born with Down’s Syndrome. It is a profound, reflective and beautiful project.
When I discussed with Sian the idea of doing a project about the farming community on the island, her reaction was immediate: “Of course, I’d love to do that. I come from a family of farmers myself. Did you know that?” I didn’t know that, but one thing I knew was that Sîan was capable of creating something unique and special. Something more than a series of photos illustrating the hard work of farming. I wanted a more intimate and insightful vision of this unique and dedicated group of people.
The result is a series of pictures that not only pay tribute to all those custodians of Guernsey’s countryside, but which also explores the notions of sacrifice, dedication, pride, fragility and vulnerability associated with their lifestyle.
There is something in each photo that we can all feel, even if we are not directly involved with the industry or linked to those families. This is because Sîan manages, through her images, to touch something very personal inside us.
Sian always works with much intuition. She photographs life as it happens around her. Nothing is really planned in advance. She needs to meet the protagonists. She needs to share moments with them whatever the time of the day. The long hours of listening, talking, joking, questioning and sharing are fundamentally part of her practice. Attentive to light and colour, she also immerses herself into their environment. She finds inspiration in the present.Through this process she becomes part of their world, their lives, and their personalities. In return they give her, often unconsciously, an array of emotions through their expressions and their body language. Once captured, this makes the photography stand out.
Through this work Siân provides a thoughtful, alternative vision and psychological study of the Guernsey farming community and landscape while continuing her deep exploration of herself and the people she meets and lives with. She has the capacity to transcend the personal stories to a more universal emotional language that everybody can relate to. This is what makes ‘For the Love of the Land’ a very special project indeed.”
Jean-Christophe Godet – Curator
Special thanks to:
Michael Bray, President of the Guernsey Farmers Association
Andrew Tabel, Guernsey Dairy’s Managing Director
and all the farmers and their families who welcomed Sian into their homes and were so generous with their time and patience.
About Sian Davey
Internationally renowned photographer Sian Davey has a background in Fine Art and Social Policy. She has worked as a humanist psychotherapist for the past 15 years, which has helped facilitate an acute and nuanced awareness of herself and her immediate worlds. Her work is an investigation of the psychological landscapes of herself, her family and her community, all of which are central to her practice.
About the Guernsey Photography Festival’s Artist in Residence Programme
Since 2012, the Guernsey Photography Festival and Guernsey Museums have commissioned international artists to produce a specific body of work about the Bailiwick of Guernsey. In exchange for their commission, each artist donates a selection of limited edition prints to the Guernsey Museum which are held for the benefit of the Bailiwick. The aim is to create a collection of contemporary photography by world famous and emerging artists about the Bailiwick of Guernsey.
The exhibition runs from 22 October to 20 November, 2022 at the Guernsey Museum at Candie.