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|THE SHADOW OF FOOT AND MOUTH EXHIBITION
Twelve months after the foot and mouth epidemic came to an end sees the launch of an exhibition of art and written work produced by artists and country people still suffering from the after-effects of the crisis.
Julia Currie, a Gloucestershire farmer and organiser of the exhibition says, "I have gathered together photographers, poets, writers and many others who all felt deeply enough about the Foot and Mouth slaughters to produce work about it. Together, we feel it is important to keep the memory of 2001 alive, and with respect for those suffering".
The exhibition starts in Stroud, although Julia hopes that it may be taken to city areas where she believes there has always been a certain level of ignorance. "In the main, many urban people have been unaware of the lingering effects of foot and mouth on country communities. The horrors live on for many people whose lives were all but broken."
Julia explained, "The foot and mouth epidemic affected me deeply, and the repercussions will reverberate for years".
She has seen hardened farmers break down over the futile loss of their animals, in some instances prize breeding stock that has taken generations to build up. Frustrated by the inability to be heard, Julia hopes the exhibition will be a way of telling stories of the past months both to her local community and to people whose lives have not been directly touched by the crisis.
"It is vital that we face up to the mistakes made, and that there is adequate consultation with the farming community, and a promise from ministers to deal with disasters through proper planning -- not the incomprehensible panic we saw."
Photographer Ian Geering said, "A number of farmers told me that for a period of days after slaughter, even the birds did not sing. It was as if the whole of the countryside was held in a silent invisible grip."
Indeed the horrors live on, and many relive their nightmare daily. One farmer told Julia, "a part of me died the day my animals were killed."
LIST OF EXHIBITORS