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Indepth Arts News:

"Till the Cows Come Home: Films and Photography by Nick May"
2006-05-27 until 2006-07-07
Tullie House Museum and Art Services
Carlisle, , UK United Kingdom

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 production company.

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 Dales.

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