Project news: Rural images discovered: Colin Shaw

written by Nancy Fulford, Project Archivist.

A couple of weeks ago marked the end of the Rural Images Discovered Project which has seen over 15,000 prints digitised, and many more negatives and prints catalogued from the John Tarlton, Farmers Weekly, Peter Adams and Colin Shaw photographic collections.

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I came to the Colin Shaw collection towards the end of the project and (in my opinion) we saved the best ‘til last! Colin Shaw has worked as both photographer and lecturer for over thirty years and has recently embarked on a new project looking at the use of the rural myth to promote national parks. His collection contains negatives and prints for two of his photographic projects: Farmwork and M40 Warwickshire.

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The Farmwork project was undertaken in the mid-1980s. Shaw’s aim was to document the everyday lives of those working the landscape and in doing so dispel the myths of the peaceful rural idyll of the past and show the intensive labour and people needed in modern farming. From potato pickers, to pea swathe operators, a farm worker feeding calves to farmers inspecting hundreds of sheep at market, every black and white picture tells a story of farm workers and modern farming practice. You can see a selection of images on our online gallery.

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M40 focused on village communities and rural practices and pastimes before and during the construction of the Warwickshire stretch of the M40 motorway in 1988. A family outing rabbit hunting with ferrets, bingo at the village hall and coffin building are just some of the activities documented in this collection.

Having these images now available to view on our online database will help visitors to gain a deeper level of access to our archives whether they are sitting in our Reading Room or at home on their laptop in Australia. They highlight the different stories that can be told by our Archives, and we hope to be bringing more of these stories out in our redevelopment of the Museum.

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