Patricia MacKinnon-Day

The Calling Sheds, Tate Liverpool 2018 - 2021

MacKinnon-Day has been collaborating with female English farmers for several years. This research interrogates why the wives of farmers were and remain some of the most elusive figures in agrarian history whose labour on the farm has been largely unpaid and unrecorded. In The Calling Sheds (2019 -2020) and Tracing the Landscape (2018) Rural Voices – from Depmore to Shocklack (2011) she excavated the minutiae of these woman’s lives. Specifically, the physical evidence:, historical background, psychological effect, social circumstances, and political contexts. Tracing the Landscape was a multi-layered digital and mixed media gallery installation. This comprised of assembled immersive ‘sheds’ or environments; communal spaces for the mapping of new arguments and interpretations which illuminated female agrarian history. The Calling Sheds has extended this research to work with shepherds across the UK and Ireland: Teleri Fielden, Snowdonia, North Wales Catherine O’Grady Powers, Louisburgh, Ireland Lisa Berry, Cartmel Fell, Cumbria Lisa Gast, Isle of Bute, Scotland. Through discussions and collaboration with this larger demographic, she has erected individual sheds in the four farm locations. MacKinnon-Day has worked collaboratively with each person to personalise the interior and exterior of the sheds. Poets, musicians, and performance artists from each location have been commissioned to respond to the narratives in the shed of their location alongside MacKinnon-Day who has created a responsive work from her studio. A planned feature-length documentary on the project is also in discussion. The research examines how site intervention and collaborative artworks can offer women working within agriculture a voice, giving them access to multi-national forums. This outcome has already enabled the exchange of ideas and working processes between women, embracing social inclusion and environmental sustainability in rural areas. The published work has been shared with a national and international social media network of farmworkers and given extensive media coverage.