June 13th 2005 To: Mary Critchley
Silence at Ramscliffe. Foot and Mouth in Devon. ~ Chris Chapman & James Crowden
This to let you know that on closing the sponsorship for the above on Friday 10th June, even though we failed to gain the support of the Arts Council, over fifty sponsors have now contributed and we have managed to raise 90% of our required funding. In view of this success, and especially as ITV West has granted us the licence to give away the film with the book, we have agreed to donate a copy to every library in the county and to a number of appropriate schools for use as a teaching aid.
Devon County Council has welcomed the gesture and will handle its distribution.
The Mid Devon Hunt has kindly sponsored a tent at Chagford Show on August 18th. We will be showing the DVD, Silence at Ramscliffe, throughout the day and although we wont now officially launch the book until September, we will have pre-launch signed copies for sale. We neglected to say this in our original funding appeal, but all sponsors will receive a signed copy, so please don’t buy it! If you can’t make it to the show, do let us know and we will send one on to you.
We would like to thank everyone who has been involved with this project for your letters of help, encouragement, contributions, guidance and support. Without you I don’t believe it would ever have seen the light of day.
During our research, Mary Critchley, (who runs the excellent website, www.warmwell.com) drew our attention to the words of the late Professor Fred Brown, a leading world expert on Food and Mouth, in a conversation he had with her in London after talking to the chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee about vaccination and rapid diagnosis: "As time goes on scientists know more and more about less and less, while the politicians know less and less about bugger all.”
Silence at Ramscliffe might just reverse the trend of his observations. James and I are hopeful that this book will help to heal the wounds of those that were so badly treated and by highlighting what was a grave injustice, draw to the attention of the powers that be the importance of our countryside and encourage them in future to bend a more sympathetic ear to its heart and voice.
Once again, on behalf of James and myself, our grateful thanks for supporting this project.
FOR MANY THE SLAUGHTER OF HEALTHY FARM ANIMALS DURING THE FOOT AND MOUTH OUTBREAK OF 2001, AS PART OF A GOVERNMENT SANCTIONED CONTIGUOUS CULL, WAS NOTHING SHORT OF GENOCIDE. TRUE, THE DISEASE WAS VIRULENT AND WIDESPREAD, BUT NONE OF THE LESSONS OF THE EARLIER 1967–1968 OUTBREAK HAD BEEN LEARNT. IN THE WORDS OF PROFESSOR FRED BROWN, THE CULL WAS "BARBARIC CONDUCT" AND "A DISGRACE TO HUMANITY."
Commissioned by Devon County Council through Beaford Arts to make a record of Foot and Mouth Disease and its effect on the rural community, photographer Chris Chapman centred his story on the study of a contiguous farm in the parish of Beaford, North Devon. Later he invited the poet James Crowden to accompany him on a tour of the farm and the surrounding region, hoping to share with him the pain he had witnessed. This extraordinary result, from both poet and photographer, neither minces its words nor flinches from the reality.
"This is a poignant record that will survive long after all the official reports have been buried in dusty, Whitehall archives. Each time I read these poems, or watch Chris and James relive their experiences by recounting these events to an audience, I have the same reaction—a mixture of pain, horror and sadness" Carol Trewin
"Passionate and determined work" Simon Armitage
"The Government turned what should have been a temporary problem into a full-blown nightmare. This beautiful book provides not only a permanent reminder of the pain inflicted on Britain’s rural communities, but a valuable lesson too—that the nightmare need never be repeated." Zac Goldsmith, The Ecologist
THE BARDWELL PRESS
6 Bardwell Road
Chris Chapman & James Crowden
Photograph by Peter Hamilton
The book includes a DVD of the ITV West documentary Silence at Ramscliffe, written and presented by Chris Chapman
Cover: Slaughtered dairy cows, Ramscliffe Farm, Beaford, North Devon
Chris Chapman was born in Wigan, Lancashire in 1952. He began his photographic career at the Newport College of Art in South Wales where he was invited to join the Documentary Photography Course run by the Magnum photographer, David Hurn.He moved to Dartmoor in 1975, since when he has documented all aspects of Dartmoor life, creating an extensive archive of the regions culture and character. His photography has been widely recognised and is represented in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Arts Council England; the International Center of Photography, New York; Boston Museum of Fine Arts and in numerous private collections.His work has been published under various titles, including: The Right Side of the Hedge (David & Charles, 1977); Dartmoor: The Threatened Wilderness (Channel 4); Wild Goose & Riddon: The Dartmoor Photographs of Chris Chapman (Halsgrove, 2000).
James Crowden was born in Plymouth in 1954 and grew up on the western edge of Dartmoor. He studied civil engineering at Bristol University and anthropology at Oxford.For twenty years he worked in Dorset and Somerset as a casual farm worker as a shepherd, sheep shearer, woodman and cidermaker.His first book of poetry, Blood Earth & Medicine, was published in 1991. He has since written six other books including In Time of Flood and The Wheal of Hope. He is now a full-time writer and poet with occasional programmes on BBC Radio 4.