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Exhibition celebrates Swansea farming life

Andrew Oliver discusses the positive impact of talking more openly, with two of his three children. Western Slade Farm, Gower. Credit: Callum Baker

Stories of a Changing Landscape, a Farmers Perspective is a project which documents and celebrates local farming heritage.

Insights into local farming life are set to go on show at a special exhibition in Swansea later this month.

Stories of a Changing Landscape in images and sound by documentary filmmaker Florence Browne and photographer Callum Baker, seeks to amplify the voices and experiences of farmers in rural Swansea and Gower.

It is hoped the exhibition will create a point of connection for agricultural workers struggling with some of the issues explored, and to give the public a glimpse of what life is like for those feeding the nation.

The exhibition can be seen at South Gower Sports Club from Wednesday 26 October – Thursday 27 October 10.00am-6.00pm, Pontarddulais Institute Tuesday 1 November – Thursday 3 November 11.00am-5.00pm, and Swansea Museum Tuesday 22 November – Sunday 29 January during normal opening hours.

Hamish Osborn, Chair of Swansea Rural Development Programme says:

“This poignant exhibition is part of a wider project that looks at the challenges and successes of working the land and how farming practices have changed over the years, linking to sector specific support services for those who might be struggling silently.

“Mental health has been a taboo subject for far too long. People living and working in rural areas face particular challenges with respect to acute loneliness and social isolation, which can affect quality of life, health and happiness.

“They often struggle to access key support services due to sparsity of mental health provision in remote locations. It is hoped this project will highlight the provision that is available within the Swansea area and encourage rural residents and workers to feel more confident in seeking support.”

Andrew Stevens, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Infrastructure said:

“This is a much needed project and I feel honoured to be part of it.

“As a farmer with close links to the Swansea-wide farming community, I am fully aware how the impact of changes in both climate and the global market are negatively affecting the local rural economy. In conjunction with the isolation caused by the Covid pandemic, those living in rural Swansea have been disproportionally affected.

“I hope this thought-provoking exhibition, associated informational film and supporting resources will encourage those in need to seek help.

“I am very grateful to those Swansea farmers who have come forward and shared their experiences for the benefit of others.”

Swansea RDP LAG are grateful for the contribution from a number of partner organisations, namely, The Farming Community Network, The DPJ Foundation, Public Health Wales, Bangor University and RABI for all their input on developing the commission and for their continued support.

A range of resources to help support those suffering with poor mental health have also been developed, which are available on https://www.swansea.gov.uk/RDPmentalhealth.

The RDP is a seven-year European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development programme funded by the European Union and the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, ending in 2023