Sam Burton

Project | A Farmer & His Dogs

Project Statement:


This project focuses on one farmer’s relationship with his land and how he makes a living
from it - amongst growing pressures in the face of a competing global economy. The
work portrays his struggles to maintain his livelihood as a farmer within a
radically changing agricultural industry.

The issues he faces are reverberated across the country, as many other farmers
deal with similar issues on a day to day basis. He is required to adapt his
farming practice to negotiate a plethora of government/DEFRA regulations and
subsidy opportunities to merely survive. Torn between preserving his identity as a traditional sheep farmer in
Lancashire, and being forced to develop innovative new income streams just to
make ends meet; he must constantly diversify.

Consequently, he has become less and less a farmer (damaging the tradition of ‘the
family farm’), but more an entrepreneur; working as one of the top sheepdog
breeders and trainers in the country, whilst running a small caravan site and
producing his own energy through wind power.

This work traces the contradictions and dilemmas produced by the complexity of
his position, both emotionally and economically, whilst aiming to generate
discussion around current and future difficulties surrounding the agricultural



Referring to the old adage ‘A farmer and his dog’, the title for this work is a
play on the traditions of agriculture and farming, alluding to the ways in
which this farmer has adapted. As this diversification process becomes more
widespread, and tradition begins to lose its hold in an increasingly modernised
industry; it seems fitting to adapt the old saying into the title for this pilot ‘series’.

I am currently working to expand this series into larger, broader work covering more issues within the agricultral industry as a whole - keep your eyes peeled for more!

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