Till the Cows Come Home is a major new Tullie House exhibition of
documentary film and photography by the artist, Nick May.
This important exhibition marks the fifth anniversary of the Foot & Mouth
epidemic: a significant event in the recent history of the UK and one felt
particularly keenly in Cumbria. The exhibition presents two bodies of work
produced concurrently by the Cumbrian-based photographer and filmmaker,
which focus on the experiences of the farming communities and follow through
the aftermath and process of recovery since 2001.
In a series of seven films made with individual farming families,
representative stories across the different farming sectors are shown - from
tenant farmers to owner-occupiers, from those whose livestock were lost to
the epidemic to those who lived under its constant threat but survived.
Shown alongside these films, a photographic looks at developments in farming
over the past five years resulting from FMD. These panoramic images
represent the whole process of loss, resilience and reflection. An emphasis
on rebuilding and reinvestment in agriculture, diversification and on the
restoration of pride is evident, even in the face of declining returns.
Nick May was trained at St. Martin's School of Art and at The National Film
& Television School and has directed films for cinema and television as well
as making video installation works for gallery and community contexts. His
1989 Channel 4 film, The Hills are Alive, profiling the experiences of the
West Cumbrian hill farming community following their exposure to Chernobyl
contamination, was nominated for the Flaherty Award and Prix Italia. The
artist has taught as a visiting lecturer at various institutions including
the University of Northumbria and the University of Glasgow and is the
founder and Project Director of Stringtheory, a not-for-profit arts
A small selection of photographs from Till the Cows Come Home has been
presented in a pilot exhibition at venues around Cumbria and north
Lancashire, including The Beacon at Whitehaven and Folly in Lancaster. The
exhibition at Tullie House is the largest and most comprehensive to date.
Here the powerful and moving photographic and film series will be shown side
by side for the first time and as intended by the artist.
The production of Till the Cows Come Home has been supported by Tullie House
Museum & Art Gallery through grant aid from Arts Council England North West.
Films by Nick May have received additional production support from the
Regional Arts Lottery Programme, Carlisle City Council, LITTORAL Arts,
Cumbria County Council and Eden Arts. The photographic series was realised
with support from Arts Council England North West and LEADER+ Fells and