New photographic exhibition puts spotlight on women working in Yorkshire's farming community

A story of rural women’s integral role as part of modern, forward-thinking countryside enterprises is being shared by the Women in Farming Network at Ryedale Folk Museum.

By Sue Wilkinson
Monday, 11th April 2022, 3:24 pm
Updated Monday, 11th April 2022, 3:32 pm
Photographer Lucy Saggers, Ryedale Folk Museum's Jennifer Smith and farmer Ruth Russell
Photographer Lucy Saggers, Ryedale Folk Museum's Jennifer Smith and farmer Ruth Russell

Photography exhibition All in a Day’s Work tells a the story of female entrepreneurialism in the countryside through an evocative and atmospheric collection of 27 curated black and white images captured by Ampleforth-based documentary photographer Lucy Saggers.

The project is part-funded by The Prince’s Countryside Fund and National Farmers Union with support from the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

The Women in Farming Network is a group supported by the society to connect, inspire and support like-minded women across rural Yorkshire.

The Network has a thriving Facebook community and holds an annual Autumn Gathering as well as other networking events year-round.

All in a Day’s Work was originally unveiled at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate in July.

Now, the exhibition is going on tour at Ryedale Folk Museum in Hutton-le-Hole where it is being shown until June 5, just in time for the Easter holidays, following the museum’s spring reopening.

Kate Dale, who farms near Boroughbridge,and co-ordinates the Women in Farming Network, said: “I’ve been delighted by the great interest and positive response to All in a Day’s Work. Hopefully it contributes to a much wider understanding of the important role women play as part of farming families, and not just in our great county.

“The truth is that women have always played a crucial role in the rural economy. Agriculture is definitely not just ‘a man’s world’ and it is fantastic to see more and more women share their stories of rural entrepreneurialism as this can really spur on the next generation of rural women.”

Jennifer Smith, director of Ryedale Folk Museum, said: “We are excited to be hosting the wonderful Women in Farming photography exhibition here at Ryedale Folk Museum. Located within the North York Moors National Park, the museum attracts a real diversity of visitors and so we have a great opportunity to share the story of female entrepreneurialism in the countryside with a wide audience.”

Among the rural women who were photographed for All in a Day’s Work is local farmer Ruth Russell, of Duggleby High Barn, Duggleby, near Malton.

Ruth’s farming enterprise consists of arable crops, sheep, cattle and wildflower meadows. The farm specialises in producing quality beef from a pedigree herd of native Longhorn cattle and it embraces wildlife conservation to provide habitats and food for birds, insects and small mammals.

Ruth said: “It’s a real joy to be part of this powerful portrait of women working in the Yorkshire countryside. Collectively, we have a great story to tell, and I hope it addresses one or two misconceptions people may have. For me, it is also a useful platform to show how commercial farming and careful environmental management can work hand-in-hand at a time when all of us within British agriculture is being challenged to get this delicate balance right.”

Others who feature in the exhibition are Christine Ryder, of Blubberhouses, Becky Burniston, of Pateley Bridge, Charlotte and Eleanor Russell, of Thixendale, Becki Leach, of Allerton near Bradford, Rachel Coates, of Baildon, Jill Smith, of Staxton, near Scarborough, Molly Sadler, of Sherburn, near Malton, Mandy Shaw,of Monk Fryston, near Selby, Annabel Makin-Jones of Micklefield, near Leeds and Harriet Hudson, of Flaxton, near York.

Lucy Saggers was commissioned for the project owing to her skill of capturing the essence of individuals in their working environment.

Lucy said: “It has been a fascinating joy to meet and photograph these committed, passionate women working in agriculture across Yorkshire, who so generously shared their diverse expertise.”

The Women in Farming Network is free to join. For more details, see www.yas.co.uk/womeninfarming