Tate celebrates women in agriculture

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Wall in The Calling Sheds exhibition of farming tools. Pic © Faye Wasilowski JMU Journalism

Tate Liverpool follows the different lives and experiences of four female shepherds in its new exhibition.

The Calling Sheds is an investigative artwork by LJMU student Patricia Mackinnon-Day which uncovers the little-known life of women shepherds across the United Kingdom.

This project seeks to engage with their stories, whilst also connecting farm workers across rural locations amongst the British Isles.

Ms Mackinnon-Day has installed four sheds, with one in England, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with the aim of “understanding more about their world and how they work”.

She told JMU Journalism: “It has become apparent that women are kind of invisible in agriculture. My practices as an artist are about marginalisation and people whose stories are not accounted for. I am interested in exploring and making their stories visible.”

The exhibition also offers visitors a chance to speak with the shepherds through a live link, which runs daily from 1pm-2pm.

The artwork aims to break expectations and stereotypes that only men work in agriculture and brings a voice to the women of the farming industry.

YouTube: Faye Wasilowski

The art also shows visitors how male-dominated farming was. The tools which were typically used within agriculture were hung on one of the exhibitions walls. It was obvious that they were made more for men than anyone else, and Mackinnon-Day wanted to highlight this struggle that women within the culture face.

She said: “Thousands of people come to Tate Liverpool, so I want to share their stories. The art offers questions about machinery, the tools, the clothing. These are all designed for men. There is amazing cultural inadequacies and things [in farming] have been in place have been historically unfair to women.”

Mackinnon-Day explained how women were still behind the scenes when it comes to agriculture. She gave an example that women of the family partake in social activities, usually leaving the men to discuss more important issues, such as the family business of farming.

A unique farmer’s call can be heard throughout the exhibition. Patricia Mackinnon-Day commissioned soprano, Lorna Kettle, for that.

She added: “I wanted in some way to translate and get a sense of the immensity of the land, with the intimate calling of the sheep.”

The exhibition runs until 8th December, 2019.

About Faye Wasilowski, JMU Journalism