A portrait photograph of Blackdown Hills will be on display at the Somerset Rural Life Museum

A photo exhibit documenting two decades of farm life on the Blackdown Hills will open at the Somerset Rural Life Museum in January.

Pauline Rook, a Somerset-based photographer and associate of the Royal Photographic Society, was commissioned in 2002 by the campaign agency to create a photographic record of the Blackdown Hills. Its mandate was to capture the “spirit and essence” of the region.

Above, Libby Lister and, above, Jamie Darlington from Pauline Rook.

The commission sparked a love for this unique corner of Somerset, and Pauline has been photographing the landscape for almost 20 years.

During this time, she explored hundreds of miles of country lanes and lanes, getting to know the people, the countryside, and the buildings that make the Blackdowns so distinctive.

Pauline said: “My main passion remains working in rural areas.

“I have built a photographic archive for the Blackdown Hills area of ​​outstanding natural beauty when it was recently designated. This relatively underpopulated and inaccessible landscape of small farms and many alleys continues to fascinate and delight me.

“I love including farm animals in my photos – my years of farming and having my own flock of sheep have helped.”

Campaigning and photography have been long-standing passions for Pauline, who spent nearly 20 years in dairy farming in Somerset, which fueled her desire to document figures in the farming world.

Sussex crossbreed sheep by Pauline Rook.

The exhibit will bring together over 50 photographs and include a selection of Pauline’s most recent work, captured using infrared techniques she began learning during Lockdown.

Sam Astill, Director of Museums for the South West Heritage Trust, said: “The photographs tell a story of rural survival and also provide insight into the working practices of an accomplished Somerset photographer.

Basse Ferme by Pauline Rook.

“We are delighted to display Pauline’s work in the museum, whose many exhibits further explore the history of agriculture in the county.”

The exhibition will run from January 8 to March 19. On January 8 and February 12, Pauline will be at the museum for a meeting with the artist where she will be available to discuss her work with visitors. On February 12, Pauline will give an illustrated conference as part of the museum’s talk and tea series.

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Michael E. Marquez