The Visual Art Network commissioned Mairi Turner and Andrew Howe in July 2011 to document the development of new allotments by a group of volunteers at Corporation Lane, Coton Hill. This exhibition presents a selection of the photographs taken at the site and in the surrounding landscape over a 15 month period.
This is a story, or at least a small but significant part of a story, about land in a place now known as the Coton Hill allotments. Change in the landscape is a continual dynamic process, and I am interested in how people seek to control and change the use of the land.
The site has a peaceful, almost timeless atmosphere. It is a wonderful place to escape, slow down and regain some meaningful connection with the land and passing of the seasons. I wanted to record interaction between the people and the land. I looked for the details that reveal the character of the landscape and the personality of the plot holders.
The surrounding land comprises a series of rolling hills or mounds. An old river bed of the River Severn loops around some distance to the north of the site. The Welsh ice sheet is thought to have reached as far as Coton Hill, and much of the landscape may have originally formed by erosion caused by glacial melt waters. New housing is gradually filling in the space between the railway and Corporation Lane on an inexorable march into the rural landscape. Two developments were completed during the time I visited the site. The character of the tranquil “green lane” approaching the site will inevitably change.
Allotment holders require an optimistic resilience to face up to the eternal struggle against weeds, weather and infestation by pests and diseases. There is a desire to impose some shape and character to “your” plot. There are many details of creativity, ingenuity, humour and general thrift, which show the character and care of the plot holders.
The Coton Hill allotment is a rare opportunity for a community to take ownership of a project and make a positive impact on land to which there was previously only limited public access. It was a great team effort to get it up and running.