The small society: Is the idyll of the English village dead?
Not according to photographer Eamonn J McCabe, who tells Gillian Orr how he escaped London to document the beauty of rural Sussex's Firle
Friday 22 July 2011
The quintessential English village is often regarded as a lost settlement, a rural idyll from a bygone era where fathers play cricket at the weekend, the locals prop up the bar of the lone pub, grandmothers oversee a bake sale and children run down to the local shop to buy sweets. Does it really exist anymore?
It might be an idealised vision, but when the London-based photographer Eamonn J McCabe visited the village of Firle in the South Downs, he found it to be alive and well. Asked by a friend to take some photographs of life in Firle that they could sell to raise money to do up the village hall, McCabe made the journey and was surprised with what he discovered.
"When I started taking photographs I thought to myself, 'wow, this is so much more interesting than I thought it would be,' recalls McCabe. "I quickly began to see it as a really special place and I totally fell in love with it." Having lived in the capital since birth, village life was alien to McCabe. "I found the community down there to be really special, especially coming from London, where I don't even know my neighbours."
As McCabe became more enthralled with Firle, so the project grew, and he found himself returning every weekend to photograph the different landscapes and various residents. A fashion photographer by trade, here his subjects are a world away from the glossy, professional models he is used to shooting for Vogue and Elle.
The resulting book, About A Village, reveals a curious state of duality present in the village. In the photographs of street parties and schoolchildren playing there is a sense of nostalgia and innocence, while the more dramatic shots of imposing hills and huntsmen remind you of the history and tradition that a village is steeped in.
Those with no experience of country life will no doubt be left with a desire to visit such a charming community, while those who know all about village living will instantly recognise the delightful quirks. Firle may be unique, but in its sense of community, it remains familiar.
'About A Village' by Eamonn J McCabe is published by Frances Lincoln £16.99. To order a copy for the special price of £14.49 (free P&P) call Independent Books Direct on 08430 600030, alternatively visit www.independentbooksdirect.co.uk
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
EastEnders Christmas special, review: Brilliant Danny Dyer glues you to your seat
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Doctor Who series 9: Jenna Coleman staying on for whole season as Clara Oswald
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader