Just Beyond the Visible

Peering through a clear glass window sheathed in mist and raindrops, we see shapes on of familiar things the other side and take for granted we know what they are.

Rural living is visualised in our mind portraying an unhurried, plentiful life and the rural space as a sanctuary from pandemonium, peaceful and restorative. Whilst pursuing these elusive pleasures, the visitor to the countryside is often unaware of the economic struggle happening ‘just beyond the visible’ which might contradict their perceived idyll. In consuming place and seeking this supposed experience, we can overlook the reality of rurality, not recognising an everyday life in conditions which perpetuate a low-wage economy, poor transport networks, an aging population and increasing house prices. Unable to surmount theses difficulties, many of our young seek work in urban areas. This combination of happenings cause some villages to fail to thrive as a community.

This work observes continuing determination of our young people to adapt their skills seeking opportunities to meet economic challenges in ways that might allow them to remain part of the place they grew up.The extracts here are purely visual, in the main piece we listen to the conversation of these four young people relating to the challenges they face in order to achieve this.

Through photography, we glimpse beyond the perceptions of an idyllic tranquil rurality into scenes of contemporary reality in Northumbrian valleys. These young people have hope and determination, retaining a strong sense of belonging as they fight to stabilise the sustainability and continuity of their community.