Our family farm lay in the shadow of Mynydd Troed (‘Foot Mountain’ in English) and its distinctive shape was carved out in the last Ice Age, as was the lake in the valley below. The area, a popular tourist destination, is nestled in the midst of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The experience of eking out a living in this striking but demanding landscape is what shaped our lives. Despite this, these pictures do not aim to create a predictable, imagined geography. The images are not the stereotypical faces of weather worn farmers, but an intimate portrait of people and places that are familiar to me.
It is this intimacy that provides my sense of belonging to the local community. However, this is not an enclosed community, with a fixed identity. To ally locality with community can be misleading, as there is never just one community with a single sense of identity.
These farmers have many different social connections, both local, national and international. This place, like any other, is as multifaceted as its people, a place of complex networks of social relations. These images are an articulation of those relations, a dialogue between photographer and subject and as such an exploration of self.
An important part of the work focuses on children and young people. This is not merely a nostalgic trip into childhood experience, but rather an interest in the next generation, and how well equipped they are to face the challenges of farming in the 21st century.
Born in Brecon Muriel Gallan completed a BA in Photojournalism at Swansea Metropolitan University in 2013 and an MA in Documentary Photography at the University of South Wales, Newport in 2015. A farmer’s daughter, who has previously trained as a counsellor and worked with people in a variety of challenging arenas, her photographic work and studies focus predominately on her love of people and their connection to the land. Muriel’s work has been exhibited nationally in a number of group shows.