Autograph has commissioned artists Laura El-Tantawy, Reena Saini Kallat and Sim Chi Yin to develop new work reflecting their established research-led and often interdisciplinary visual art practices. The artists were jointly selected in collaboration with the Bagri Foundation, a non-profit supporting and promoting Asian arts and culture, as part of a new commissioning series Critical Times: Dialogues in Contemporary Photography.
The commission, She Fights in the Fields is the latest instalment in Laura El-Tantawy’s extensive series I’ll Die For You — a long-term body of work which explores climate change through the experience of small farming communities and the intimate bond between them and land. In this new series, El-Tantawy looks at the after-effects of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of UK farmers with a particular emphasis on the experience of women and the challenges they face today. The commission enabled El-Tantawy to explore a different direction and gendered focus within this ongoing international project, incorporating research conducted on site at the Museum of English Rural Life into materials relating to UK farming and archival documents reflecting the history of political propaganda.
Sometimes I get frustrated because I think perhaps the more general population doesn’t realise there are a lot of farmers out there doing a lot of good. We take our role as guardians of the land really seriously. We look after our soils, we try to actively maintain our habitat — I just feel that what we are doing is really good."— Rachel Madeley Davies, farmer
Farming is incredibly challenging, but the joys of new life and all its possibilities outweigh the risks. None of our children are farming — they’ve probably taken the wise choice. My husband doesn’t know any different. He’s 64 next month and I’m 59 in July. We can’t go on doing this forever."Liz Webster, farmer
Laura El-Tantawy (born 1980, Worcestershire) is a British-Egyptian documentary photographer and book maker who investigates notions of home and belonging, routinely approaching her work from a social and environmental perspective inspired by her transatlantic background. Her visual explorations often intertwine moving images, sound, and personal narratives, marked by the artist’s lyrical eye on reality.
El-Tantawy’s work In The Shadow of the Pyramids was shortlisted for Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize (2016); in 2020, she received the prestigious Eugene Smith Memorial Fund Award, as well as the PH Museum Women’s Grant. Her works have been included in exhibitions at Centro de Fotografia, Montevideo; Photo2021, Melbourne; FotoFest International Biennial, Houston; Seen Fifteen, London; Instituit des Cultures d’Islam Paris; Nuit Blanche, Brussels; The Photographers’ Gallery, London; Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool amongst others.
Autograph is a place to see things differently. Since 1988, we have championed photography that explores issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice, sharing how photographs reflect lived experiences and shape our understanding of ourselves and others.Donate Join our mailing list