Sheep exhibition and Future Landscapes symposium
Ceredigion Museum is located in the heart of rural Wales, where the double crises of climate change and Brexit uncertainty have had a polemic effect on local communities with vested interests in the upland regions of the county.
In response, the museum’s Sheep exhibition, which was highly commended in the Museums & Heritage Awards 2020, included the Future Landscapes symposium to facilitate dialogues between the various stakeholders.
The Sheep exhibition explored the history, heritage and culture of sheep farming communities, through the lens of contemporary art, supported by artefacts from the museum’s collections.
Funding from Art Fund and Garfield Weston enabled the museum to borrow works relating to sheep by Henry Moore, Joseph Beuys and Menashe Kadishman. Displaying these high profile works raised the profile of the exhibition to attract wider audiences.
Artist Ffion Jones was commissioned to work with sheep farmers to make a film in collaboration with local farmers, creating a voice for the farming communities, which are traditionally a very hard-to-reach audience, into the museum.
Building on this outreach work and the high profile of the exhibition, the Future Landscapes symposium brought together artists, curators, academics, farmers, ecologists, environmental campaigners, policy makers and others to discuss the issues around the heritage and future of Ceredigion’s uplands.
The walks, talks and world café-style discussions enabled people to engage within a mutually respectful and active listening context to find shared values and build bridges.
The legacy of this ground-breaking event is ongoing; the museum hosts monthly People’s Practice meetings, virtually during lockdown, to keep the dialogue open and an alliance of more than 30 land-based practitioners was set up from the symposium called Cynefin (habitat), with the aim of sharing resources and knowledge around the land and environment.