For almost a decade Justin Partyka has been photographing the agrarian community of rural East Anglia. It is a world where traditional methods and knowledge still matter, and where the identity of the people is intimately shaped by the landscape.
The photographs explore the strong sense of place of this region, which is revealed through the subtle use of light and colour. Central to an agrarian way of life is the importance of land. Not just working on the land, living on the land, and owning the land, but also the deeper process of the land becoming physically and psychologically engrained in the human experience. As the photographs move from the fields into the domestic interiors of the farms, the presence of the land continues throughout.
Often melancholy in feel, Partyka’s work shows a world that is rooted to the past and its memories. His photographs may suggest that this is a way of life that is passing, but for now they tell the story of the small-time farmers who are reluctant to disappear.
Justin Partyka is from the county of Norfolk. His work explores the importance of place. He has a BA in American Studies and English literature from Brunel University, and an MA in Folklore from Memorial University, Newfoundland, Canada. After completing his studies in 2001, Partyka began a long-term project photographing the agrarian community of East Anglia. These photographs first received recognition when they were included in the exhibition of British Landscape Art, “A Picture of Britain” at the Tate gallery in London, 2005. Since then they have appeared in various publications including Granta, the Drawbridge, and burnmagazine.org, and featured as a major solo exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, 2009.
Partyka continues to photograph in East Anglia as he prepares the project for a book. The work has been shown at various galleries and will feature as an installation at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, 2012. Partyka is a prolific image maker with numerous ongoing projects both in the UK and beyond. He is currently working on a commission in the fenlands of Cambridgeshire for the publisher Full Circle Editions. These photographs will appear in a new edition of the book Fenwomen in early 2011.