'Drawn to the Land' by Sophie Gerrard

A photograph of sheep in the snow with wind turbines in the background, part of Sophie Gerrard's 'Drawn to the Land' series.

Award winning documentary photographer, Sophie Gerrard, presents a series of photographs of female farmers in Scotland with ‘Drawn to the Land’, on display in the Fox Talbot Museum.

What is 'Drawn to the Land'?

'Drawn to the Land' is an ongoing and exploratory project which takes an intimate look at the contemporary Scottish landscape through the eyes of the women who are working, forming and shaping it.

Sophie Gerrard's extraordinary photographs explore the lives of six of these remarkable women who are 'drawn to the land'; who shape, and are shaped by, some of the most remote and diverse parts of the Scottish landscape.

Lorraine’s home, Megdale, Langholm, The Scottish Borders, May 2015
A photograph of shepherd's crooks next to a sideboard, from Sophie Gerrard's 'Drawn to the Land' series
Lorraine’s home, Megdale, Langholm, The Scottish Borders, May 2015

Where it began

When Sophie began the project in 2012, it was as a way of exploring her own relationship with the Scottish landscape.

She talks about it often becoming romanticised as a symbol of national identity and 'rural fantasy'.

" My aim was to uncover something more authentic … I wanted to scratch the surface, to go beyond the picturesque postcard view and learn about the land through the eyes of those who are responsible for it."
- Sophie Gerrard, award-winning documentary photographer behind 'Drawn to the Land'

Who are the farmers?

Sybil, Mary, Sarah, Minty, Patricia and Lorraine are six of the hill farmers who take on the responsibility of caring for the Scottish landscape.

They each have their own stories, but all talk of being custodians rather than landowners. They demonstrate a great empathy with the land and livestock that they look after and talk of being unable to imagine themselves doing anything else.

Sarah Sandamhor Farm, Isle of Eigg, May 2015
Photograph of Sarah, a Scottish farmer, from the series 'Drawn to the Land' by Sophie Gerrard
Sarah Sandamhor Farm, Isle of Eigg, May 2015

The importance of representation

As female farmers, working and living in a male dominated world, they are underrepresented in the UK, and yet, according to the Office of National Statistics, the number of women in farming has increased by almost 25% in the last ten years alone.

For Sophie, it was important to represent this in 'Drawn to the Land'. In understanding the relationship between farmer and landscape, she found that, 'more often than not, that perspective is a male on, I was curious to understand it from a female view point.'

" ‘The photographs in ‘Drawn to the Land’ are truly unique, they are more than just photographs, they are a true exploration of humanity and its relationship with the landscape in which it exists.’"
- Roger Watson, Fox Talbot Museum curator

About the exhibition

'Drawn to the Land' is on display at the Fox Talbot Museum from 17 September 2016 - 12 March 2017 and is free with normal admission.

You can find more information on opening dates and times here.