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Silence at Ramscliffe
By Chris Chapman and James Crowden
August 2005, £25.00, hardback, 136pp, 250 x 250 mm; 53 B&W photographs;
Chris Chapman's recording of events during the contiguous cull at Ramscliffe Farm is akin to war photography. While Britain's leaders seemed to ignore the voice of those who live and work on the land and much of the national media revelled in the gorier aspects of the story, Chapman's agenda was different. Rather than dwell on ephemeral sensation, he tried instead to make sense of the experience of the cull for the people whom it affected the most; the ordinary working farmers, their families, friends and neighbours. His long history of committed social documentary photography in the Westcountry fitted him for this role, since he has always recorded the changing way of life of this part of England with a keen and sympathetic eye.
Silence at Ramscliffe is a visible reminder of those terrible times and an important landmark as a rural and social document. The power of Chapman's images and story, together with the perceptive and keenly observed poetry of James Crowden, will make a significant contribution towards healing the wounds of those that experienced the horror. Hopefully this country will never have to suffer the same ordeal again.
"This is a poignant record that will survive long after all the official reports have been buried in dusty, Whitehall archives. Each time I read these poems, or watch Chris and James relive their experiences by recounting these events to an audience, I have the same reaction-a mixture of pain, horror and sadness."
"A suitably provocative collection of words and pictures, Silence at Ramscliffe reminds us just how the Government's appalling and callous handling of the Foot and Mouth crisis undermined all the fundamentals of good farming and good husbandry. It serves as a brilliant warning, nationally and even globally, of how man's chilling disassociation from the species that feed him is, frighteningly, almost complete."
"The Government turned what should have been a temporary problem into a full-blown nightmare. This beautiful book provides not only a permanent reminder of the pain inflicted on Britain's rural communities, but a valuable lesson too-that the nightmare need never be repeated."
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