The Hall of Einar Sunday Recommendation #41
Hello and welcome to my Sunday Recommendation. Thanks for joining me. Every week I read great wildlife and nature books, stumble upon engrossing websites and hear wonderful new music. This is my chance to bring you carefully curated recommendations of all the best I’ve experienced – every Sunday. If it’s folk, or independent, or about wildlife, nature or Orkney, I may love it, and so may you.
Joanne Coates – Daughters of the Soil
Joanne Coates is a visual storyteller who specialises in the participation of working class and rural communities in telling their stories. She visualises people’s stories through collaboration and a conscious process of involvement, and shows clear understanding and empathy with the people featured. Her work starts with people and their participation, and ends by created photographs as a result of her interaction with them. Coates is clearly someone who doesn’t shoot and ask questions later.
I covered her zine, North Sea Swells, in a previous Sunday Recommendation:
Her conscious intent is clear in her wonderful book Daughters of the Soil. It’s a social and historical document as well as a beautifully designed object to hold in the hand.
The work is a gentle undermining of the sexist stereotypes which abound in images of farmers. Here are women farmers with massive responsibilities, huge flocks, amazing technical skills and physical prowess. Issues of unequal land-holding, lack of representation and everyday bias abound in the stories and quotations, all joined together by images of work and portraits of daughters of the soil.
Daughters of the Soil is a great piece of work, and I’ve enjoyed deciding to flip through it briefly and then becoming engrossed in it again for half an hour. It’s a book to draw you back, with layers of meaning from the juxtaposition of images and quotations as well as thoughtful essays. It’s great to have someone covering rural areas without it being from the perspective of a middle-class coloniser treating it as a countryside playground for their own indulgence. Here’s Coates:
“Women’s contribution to the farming industry is significant but often overlooked. There are underlying barriers such as access to land, class, motherhood, and lack of clear leadership roles. When tasked with imagining a farmer, who comes to mind? Women make up 15% of the farming industry in the UK, but despite playing a central role in agricultural progress throughout history, documentation of female farmworkers is slim. Over time, the stories of women who have shaped the land have been left unheard.”
Only 200 copies were printed and it’s sold out. An exhibition of images from the book is on tour and currently at The Garden Tearooms at Tennants from August 16 to September 4. It’s well worth visiting, so do take a look. Coates’s website has details of other fascinating projects showing her skills at understanding and working with people. joannecoates.co.uk We’re lucky to have her.
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back with more recommendations of things you might adore next Sunday. In the meantime, I wish you a great week. Keep safe, everyone.
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